World Bank suggests incentive scheme for teachers
-finds regional bias in school funding
March 25, 2003
The government needs to recognise the important role of teachers by giving them more voice in school management and financially rewarding them for achieving predetermined, measurable goals, the World Bank says.
In an assessment of public expenditure in Guyana, the World Bank says more training of teachers is at best a very partial solution to the retention and performance of teachers and contends that training at the university level may have led to an increase in emigration.
The Bank says the solution does not lie in a general increase in salary levels either, given that Guyana has to compete with richer countries' salary scales to retain teachers. It says part of the solution lies in the government designing sensitisation campaigns that boost teachers' "moral and social status" and rewards them financially for input (teachers and student attendance), or outcome variables (such as exam passes or average grades).
The Bank, via the Guyana Public Expenditure Review (GPER), notes that a society would want to control quality at entry of teachers but says barring this, achievements at a later stage can be encouraged in a fair and equitable manner. The report recognises the difficulties associated with the design and implementation of such incentives at a national level.
The report, which analyses public expenditure and makes recommendations to reorient social policies, advises the government to spend more resources in the education system in the poorer regions, namely Regions 1, 8 and 9. It says greater effort ought to be made to reach some of the more remote areas within each region.
It also recommends that the government reallocate funds from General Secondary Schools to Community High Schools and Primary Top Schools because of the pro-rich bias in education spending for richer regions compared to the poorer ones.
The GPER says the government should also explore the possibility of user fees for General Secondary Schools and since these schools are disproportionately attended by the well-off, the fees should be progressive. It says increasing spending to upgrade community and primary top schools would also disproportionately benefit the poor.
Steps also need to be taken to evaluate the equity impact of subsidies on the University of Guyana to see if student fees can be raised as the returns to university education are almost entirely enjoyed by the student, the report says. The report adds that a rough calculation shows that a 28% reduction in subsidies to the university could allow a doubling of the hardship and station allowance for teachers in remote rural areas.
The report finds that while public expenditure on education as a share of Gross Domestic Product has increased from 4.5% in 1989 to 9.3% in 2001 and inter-level allocations of public expenditures are good, there are significant disparities across regions and income groups.
"The regional allocation of public spending shows a distinct pro-rich bias, a bias that has not changed much for the past decade," the review says, finding that the poorer regions, one, eight and nine, have distinctly lower expenditures than other regions.
The report finds this discrepancy in spending reflected in secondary school enrolment rates with lower rates in the poorer regions than the richer ones. The richer regions were also found to have a disproportionately high enrolment in general secondary schools. The general secondary schools receive considerably more budget support, qualified teachers and supplies than other secondary schools, the report finds. These also experience a lower rate of student absenteeism, consistent with the perception of a higher quality of education. An earlier report had found that 30% of the poorest students had no textbooks at all, and less than 30% had access either exclusively or through sharing. On the other hand, 50% of the students from the most affluent quintile had access to textbooks. But this compared favourably with the 1993 Living Standards Measure-ment Survey, which showed that a majority of students had no textbooks at all.
The GPER report also finds substantial dissatisfaction on the part of parents in the quality of the public education, which has expressed itself mainly in the expansion of after school tuition by public school teachers. It also notes dissatisfaction in the extensive use of unqualified teachers (those who did not pass teacher training exams) particularly in the hinterland areas.
This had stirred a debate about the inadequacy of the hardship allowance and of the housing facilities offered to teachers stationed in the remote areas. The report says the inadequate flow of qualified and trained teachers is partly due to the Teaching Service Commission's slowness in turning out appointments.
However, despite the general dissatisfaction with public schools, there are very few private schools and the report finds the tuition range to be US$900 per annum for nursery, US$1100 for primary and US$1250 per year for secondary school level.