A little pay goes a long way
“The entire Ubungo district had not one single A in mathematics during the form four national examinations.”
So stated the Member of Parliament for Ubungo constituency in Dar es Salaam, and Tanzania’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Professor Kitila Mkumbo. He was visibly pained. “Furthermore only 2% of students qualified for mathematics in Advanced Level education” he continued, at the April 18 launch of KiuHisabati – a programme to ‘Encourage Mathematical Learning and Teaching’ for Ubungo constituency.
KiuHisabati stipulates that every mathematics teacher will receive 100,000 shillings ($40) for each student who gets an A in maths in the 2021 exams.
For Twaweza, KiuHisabati is an exciting initiative. We believe (and have the evidence for it) that incentives can inspire teachers to help students improve learning. The initiative also makes us proud as it would be unfair for us not to claim some responsibility for promoting the idea of cash incentives for learning in Tanzania through our KiuFunza (shorthand for Kiu ya Kujifunza) experiments.
In 2014, as a senior researcher at Twaweza, Professor Mkumbo contributed to the evidence on KiuFunza through interviews with teachers on their experiences with the cash incentives initiative. He visited 12 schools for qualitative research with a team from the University of Dar es Salaam. Clearly, the transformative learning experiment inspired him to initiate direct implementation in his Ubungo constituency.
“Modelled on Kiufunza, a teacher motivation programme whose effectiveness has been widely validated, KiuHisabati aims to incentivise teachers and students to improve their teaching and learning of Mathematics with a view to improving performance in national exams.” Mkumbo, who has a long-standing association with Twaweza, stated after the launch.
Through KiuFunza, to address low learning outcomes and low teacher effort, Twaweza paid teacher per-student bonuses dependent on the learning outcomes of their individual students in primary schools. There were two different trials of KiuFunza both delivering better than normal learning outcomes and the third phase is currently being implemented in partnership with the Government of Tanzania.
At Twaweza, we are enthused to see our ideas being adopted and adapted into government programs, and we are delighted to see teachers’ voices – which are overwhelmingly positive about performance pay – taken into account.
We are even more encouraged to see the government make use of the evidence. As she participated in launching KiuHisabati, the Minister for Regional Administration and Local Government, Ummy Mwalimu announced that from July 1, 2021, the government will be launching a program to improve performance that will include reviving Teacher Resource Centres (TRCs), so that teachers have a place to learn about complex topics and exchange information and experience in teaching mathematics.
Other parts of the program include printing and distributing mathematics books to all students in the country so that they have individual books for easy reference, alongside providing support and encouragement to them to study mathematics.
Twaweza believes in teacher performance rewards because independent peer-reviewed research has shown they improve student learning. It is also an innovation in school and teacher management in Tanzania, where many teachers work without receiving feedback or encouragement to motivate effort.
KiuFunza is a teacher performance pay program aimed at foundational skills in primary school: it aims to build basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics among children in the first three years of school – the skills that they need to go through primary school successfully (see below).
Rewarding individual teachers for successfully improving learning outcomes benefits all critical school actors. First, teachers receive clear feedback on effort and success, in the form of test results and monetary rewards. Teachers appreciate this: in several surveys, more than 90% of teachers expressed support for the idea of performance-linked bonuses.
Second, students and their parents benefit from the increased attention and motivation of teachers. Their teachers are focused more on improving literacy because learning outcomes are linked directly to their financial rewards.
Third, for ministers and other responsible authorities, teacher performance pay is attractive as it improves the returns to education spending on teacher salaries, books and school buildings. Finally, performance-based pay offers opportunities to attract talent to this vital sector.
Where are we now?
Twaweza has implemented different versions of KiuFunza in Tanzania since 2013 and we have built on each of these to get to the current design. Experimental evidence from KiuFunza shows that a small performance-linked bonus for teachers leads to substantial improvements in learning and is cost-effective. The program provided 3-4 months of additional learning using a bonus equal to half a month of teacher salary. In addition, spending on KiuFunza performance incentives leads to a higher learning impact than standard education investments (books, fixed salaries; see KiuFunza I and II evidence; and the programme is very popular with head teachers and teachers.
Based on these results, the minister for local government requested Twaweza to help design a scalable version of KiuFunza: a simple and scalable teacher incentive program that pays teachers in Standards 1, 2 and 3 for the skills mastered by their students. This request resulted in the current joint experimental initiative of the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MOEST) and Twaweza East Africa, implemented in a random sample of 100 public primary schools in six regions across Tanzania.
Teams of Twaweza and MOEST School Quality Assurance Officers implemented this KiuFunza program in 2019-2020. Teacher performance rewards were paid in February 2021 for student skills measured at the end of 2020, as promised: TZS 170 million to subject teachers, TZS 34 million to headteachers, TZS 54 million as infrastructure bonuses. The same payments were made in February 2020 for student skill results measured in 2019.
A preliminary comparison of implementation data for intervention and control schools shows encouraging results. The data shows substantive increases in learning in KiuFunza schools: teacher incentives result in better learning outcomes.
Map of Tanzania with regions where KiuFunza has been implemented.
KiuFunza has shown in multiple ways that teacher performance pay is a worthwhile investment; it delivers learning and represents value for money as compared to other investments in education. It is deeply gratifying to see KiuFunza inspire initiatives like KiuHisabati, we welcome this uptake of evidence into policy. Beyond the innovation of the idea of performance pay itself, the design and implementation of KiuFunza include many exciting and creative processes that can be adopted into the education system to improve results and efficiency. We continue to look for opportunities to spread these ideas alongside the rigorous body of evidence we have collected to validate them.
Sources to Kiufunza: