Where are the teachers? Staffing inequities across Zambian public schools

Policy brief State

  • This brief analyses the distribution of teachers across public schools in Zambia and looks at the administrative challenges linked to teacher allocation.
  • The researcher finds large staffing inequities across public schools. While 10% of public primary school pupils attend schools with pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs) below 30 pupils per teacher, 16% of pupils – approximately 475,000 children – go to schools with PTRs above 80.
  • Imbalances are largely concentrated within rather than across districts and are linked to administrative challenges in teacher workforce management, meaning teachers are not being effectively deployed where they might be needed.
  • Districts with larger differences in PTRs between schools show a lower pupil performance at the 2017 national grade 7 exams compared to districts with smaller differences. This suggests that PTR dispersion is not only worrisome from an equity point of view, but it may also contribute to lower overall educational outcomes.
  • The researcher provides six policy recommendations for achieving a greater balance of staffing across public schools.