Publication: Improving Teaching and Learning through Effective Incentives : What Can We Learn from Education Reforms in Latin America?

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Vegas, Emiliana
Umansky, Ilana
While many Latin American countries have succeeded in providing access to basic education for the great majority of children, educational quality in the region remains very low. In an increasingly global world where workers' skills and knowledge play an ever-important role, countries with predominantly low-skilled workers are doomed to stay behind, their citizens earning low wages, and continuing to miss opportunities to escape poverty and enjoy a better life. From the viewpoint of using scarce resources efficiently, it is troubling that most countries in the region spend much on education, yet the skills that school graduates in Latin America have are not sufficient for them to earn enough for a quality standard of living. Democratizing education, by improving both its coverage and quality, is critical to overcoming the social and economic inequality that plagues Latin America; and, ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn critical skills at the primary and secondary level is paramount to overcoming skill barriers that perpetuate underdevelopment and poverty. The report presents a simplified schema of the factors that influence student learning, including general resources, education inputs, and processes. For the purposes of this study, the authors divide the education budget into two parts: the teacher compensation budget, and the part of the education budget that is unrelated to teacher pay, the non-teacher education budget. Education policy makers have three main options for improving teaching quality: 1) teacher training and professional development; 2) teacher incentives that impact teachers and how long they remain in the field; and, 3) incentives that affect the work teachers do in the classroom. This study focuses entirely on the second and third options. Though previous studies have addressed questions related to teacher quality and incentives in Latin America, this study is the first to focus on the impact of various policy reforms affecting teachers on teacher quality, and student achievement in multiple Latin American countries.
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Vegas, Emiliana; Umansky, Ilana. 2005. Improving Teaching and Learning through Effective Incentives : What Can We Learn from Education Reforms in Latin America?. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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