Governance in Education: Raising Performance

Involuntary private tutoring

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Involuntary private tutoring

In addition to formal and informal school fees, and illegal payments to pass, advance, or for specific grades, households sometimes spend a non-negligible share of their incomes on private tutoring. While some tutoring is voluntary and reflects parental interest in bolstering their children’s performance, it can be abused by teachers when parents feel forced to finance private tutoring on omitted parts of the curriculum to ensure that their children pass (Bray 2003). Information on such practices is scarce, and what does exist emerges mainly from qualitative surveys.

In a survey of schools in Morocco, 70 percent of teachers at the senior secondary level said that they were unable to cover the full curriculum during regular school hours; 70 percent of teachers at this level also reported that they offered private tutoring (Bray 1999). This raises concerns that teachers may intentionally omit important topics from regular instruction in order to supplement their incomes with earnings from involuntary private tutoring.

In Azerbaijan, Georgia, Mongolia, and Ukraine, “respondents reported that some teachers pressured their students to take supplementary private tutoring with them after school hours; in some instances, the pressure included threatening students with lower grades if they refused to take private tutoring” (OSI 2006). A recent empirical study of private tutoring in Nepal suggests that secondary school teachers who engage in private tutoring teach less during official school hours causing students to perform worse as measured by test scores (Jayachandran 2008).18

Potential solutions

Replacing informal with formal user fees

Informal payments are a form of corruption, which can reduce the quantity and quality of education services. In health, the introduction of formal fees while ensuring that providers continued to receive some additional earnings, have shown promise in reducing the level of informal payments in Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia (Kutzin et al. 2003; Barber, Bonnet, and Bekedam 2004). Formal contributions that are transparent and may make teachers and principals more responsive to parents, is an alternative that deserves attention and experimentation.

Using campaigns to inform parents about education entitlements

Often parents and students are not (fully) aware of what their education entitlements are, for instance, they do not know whether primary education is meant to be provided for free or not, or if there are fees they do not know the correct amount. In either case, the lack of information facilitates the charging of informal payments by education officials and teachers. Public dissemination of information on school fees (amount and frequency), the need to pay officially, and to receive a receipt, can potentially help reduce the extent of informal payments when parents and communities have the knowledge and ability to refuse payment. There is no direct evidence on the effect of school fee dissemination on the extent of informal payments for access to education but some related evidence on the positive impact of information being made available to communities for the reduction of leakages exists (Reinikka and Svensson 2005).

Penalties for cheating on examinations

The introduction of financial or professional (e.g. dismissal and expulsion) penalties for both students paying to access examination information in advance and those selling this information (e.g. test providers and teachers) could, if enforceable, help reduce cheating.

6. Corruption Perceptions

As noted in the previous section, informal payments, a form of corruption, reflects a breakdown of good governance and undermines service provision. Indeed, corruption brings into question the viability of the governance process summarized in Figure 1, and suggests that accountability of service providers is either not enforced or non-existent. Perceptions of corruption are useful for tracking overall corruption but must be complemented by more objective measures, such as those discussed above, to identify specific levers that can help raise performance.

Perceptions of the education sector and education service delivery provide a guide to how public services are performing. While perceptions of actual performance or corruption are not necessarily accurate, they can affect the behavior of providers, parents, and students. Their ability to cover households as well as providers and the private sector makes perception surveys useful. They also signal how well public investments in the sector are perceived, which in turn tends to influence utilization and public support for publicly financed education. The alternative to perceptions surveys is household surveys, which are more costly and time consuming but provide more extensive evidence and context.

Corruption perception surveys by the World Bank, AfroBarometer, AmericasBarometer, and Transparency International among others, focus on specific sectors including education, and provide perceptions of the extent of corruption in the sector. Results are typically reported either as the share of citizens, business people, experts, or public officials reporting worse-than-neutral corruption outcomes, or as an average of all scores.

Corruption in education, as measured by perception surveys, varies substantially within and across regions (Figure 7). In Sub-Saharan Africa, the share of households perceiving the education sector as corrupt ranges from 5 percent in Madagascar to 36 percent in Nigeria, In Latin America from 18 percent in Paraguay to 51 percent in Honduras, and in Eastern Europe from 10 percent in Bulgaria to more than 33 percent in Serbia.

Countries with better institutions should in theory be less corrupt. The World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) offers a measure of institutional quality. It includes a subcategory, building human resources in education, which “assesses national policies and public and private sector service delivery that affect access to and quality of education, ECD, training and literacy” (OPSC 2007: 3). The scores range from 1–6 (6 indicating higher quality institutions) and are based on the assessments of education experts working on the country against a sample of regional benchmark countries.

Average regional CPIA scores for building human resources for education are shown in Figure 8. In 2007, Europe and Central Asia had the highest average regional score followed by Latin America and the Caribbean and South Asia; Sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest average score. There is, of course, significant variation across countries within each region. While not perfect, such scores reflect both policy and execution of policy and the institutional quality of the entities providing education services and therefore, provide a sense of education performance and honesty of government.

Figure 7. Share of households perceiving education as corrupt in selected countries, 2002-06 (percent)

Figure 8: CPIA scores for building human resources in education by region, 2007

Note: Unweighted average CPIA scores for question 9b, building human resources in education, by region.

Source: CPIA Review (2007).
Another approach to capturing perceptions of education sector institutions and performance is client satisfaction surveys. Satisfaction surveys complement evidence on perceptions of and experience with corruption and education service delivery performance. Recent survey data from Indonesia has been used to examine whether client satisfaction surveys can guide policy. The findings suggest that perceptions data are not as useful for directly informing policymaking as they are for providing insights to policymakers on the priorities of citizens, and on the acceptability and effect of specific reforms such as decentralization (Dasgupta, Narayan, and Skoufias 2009).

Still, high scores on perceived corruption and low scores on perceived institutional quality and performance all provide red flags and indicate the need to assess possible corruption and shortcomings in education service delivery and financing.

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