Evaluation of the rural hardship allowance in Zambia

  • There is a large disparity in educational outcomes between children in Zambia. The attainment of those living in rural areas tends to be half of those living in urban areas at primary level.
  • It is thought that one cause of this disparity relates to the low motivation of teachers to work in rural areas. The Zambian government has tried to address this by implementing a rural hardship allowance which has taken several forms since the 1990s.
  • This brief evaluates the efficacy of the rural hardship allowance on attracting and retaining teachers in rural areas and whether this impacts student outcomes.
  • The researchers find that that the allowance increases the amount of teachers in rural schools by 10% and succeeds in keeping teachers at their schools by around half a year, but has no effect on student performance.
  • It is also found that administration issues mean that the Zambian government’s database is not an accurate reflection of where teachers work, meaning that some teachers may not be receiving the correct allowance.
  • The researchers recommend that policymakers ensure the teacher database is kept up-to-date and that there is an increase focus of non-monetary incentives to attract teachers to rural areas.