Chart of the week #30: How well do teachers understand what they are teaching?

Last time we looked at data that showed how Tanzanian teachers really are on a “cold strike” (mgomo baridi). This time, a simple question: do teachers really understand what they are supposed to be teaching.

The same World Bank Service Delivery Indicators initiative asked grade 4 teachers (known as Standard 4 in Tanzania) in Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda to take tests based on the primary school curriculum. Essentially, they were asking how well the teachers understand the subjects they are teaching.

So lets take a look at the charts:

So what do the charts tell us?

  • Teachers in all four countries performed badly on the tests, but worst of all in Tanzania. The average score (in tests based on the primary school curriculum) in Tanzania was just 41%.
  • Teachers in Kenya scored notably better than in Tanzania, particularly on literacy and numeracy parts of the test (74% pass rate, compared to 48%).
  • Only 7% of Tanzanian Standard 4 teachers scored 70% or more in the tests. None scored over 90%.
  • There is almost no difference between teachers test pass rates in urban and rural areas in any of the three East African countries. So if pupils in urban areas are performing better (as indeed they are), this can’t be because they have more knowledgeable teachers.