What do local government education managers do to boost learning outcomes?

Author(s): Cilliers, Jacobus; Dunford, Eric; Habyarimana, James

Date: 2021

Pages: 41 p.

Serie: RISE working paper

Series Volume: 21/064


Decentralization reforms have shifted responsibility for public service delivery to local government, yet little is known about how their management practices or behavior shape performance. We conducted a comprehensive management survey of mid-level education bureaucrats and their staff in every district in Tanzania, and employ flexible machine learning techniques to identify important management practices associated with learning outcomes. We find that management practices explain 10 percent of variation in a district's exam performance. The three management practices most predictive of performance are: i) the frequency of school visits; ii) school and teacher incentives administered by the district manager; and iii) performance review of staff. Although the model is not causal, these findings suggest the importance of robust systems to motivate district staff, schools, and teachers, that include frequent monitoring of schools. They also show the importance of surveying subordinates of managers, in order to produce richer information on management practices.

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