March 10, 2015 Print

Photo By: One Laptop per Child (Flickr: Khairat teacher Banner) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Great societies must first have great teachers, but what exactly motivates a great teacher? That is the question at the heart of a new study about incentive structures in Indian schools from Atlas Network partner the Centre for Civil Society.

Researchers Ronak Jain and Mansi Kabra conducted interviews with 55 teachers and seven principals from public schools, elite private schools, and budget private schools in Delhi. Their research reveals that the low-budget private schools did surprisingly well with fewer resources. These schools were better able to effectively motivate, monitor, and evaluate teachers than their public and elite private school counterparts.

There was a substantial pay gap between high-paid public school teachers and budget private school teachers, but it only had a marginal effect on teacher performance. More importantly, low salaries did not correlate with low learning standards. In fact, budget private school teachers consistently invested more effort to raise learning standards. Furthermore, budget private schools successfully implemented performance-linked pay programs that curved absenteeism and increased performance. Non-monetary incentives also played a role in motivating teachers, as well. The researchers found that recognition and appreciation of teachers in staff meetings and assemblies significantly impacts performance.

Read the full study, “Teacher Incentives — Evidence from Schools in Delhi.”