Reducing school staffing imbalances and wasteful government spending in Zambia

Policy brief State

  • This project addresses two closely related concerns:
    • Staffing imbalances: Pupil-teacher ratios vary from less than 20 to above 100 across public primary schools in Zambia.
    • Payroll mismatch: Teachers frequently do not work at the schools that they are recorded at in government payroll.
  • Payroll mismatch does not only have implications for the distribution of teachers across schools but also leads to incorrect payment of hardship allowances which are tied to the location of schools.
  • The researchers combine administrative data from the Education Management Information System and the Government Payroll System to firstly simulate the effects of a simple local teacher re-allocation programme on inequality in access to teachers, and secondly quantify the extent of payroll mismatch and its financial implications.
  • It is found that teacher re-allocation within districts following a simple assignment rule could reduce inequality in access to teachers substantially.
  • The results also show that 61% of teachers do not work at the schools they are recorded at in payroll, implying a monthly loss equivalent to 1,330 basic teacher salaries due to incorrectly paid hardship allowances.