The working conditions of teachers in low- and middle-income countries
Student learning levels in low- and middle-income countries are low, and analysis of the proximate causes often points to failures among teachers, whether a lack of content knowledge, high absenteeism, or other poor performance. This review puts teacher performance in the context of different education systems which affect teachers’ job satisfaction and commitment. Drawing on an extensive quantitative and qualitative literature, the study provides an overview of teacher conditions across countries with a focus on the challenges that teachers face which may inform weakness in motivation using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Authors find that many systems fail to provide basic working conditions for teachers to perform. Literature on employee motivation in other fields suggests that atomistic interventions that fail to address basic working conditions are unlikely to have transformative positive effects on the education system. Authors conclude that a systems approach might be well suited to improve both teacher motivation and performance in developing countries. This study was prepared as a background paper for the World Bank’s 2018 World Development Report, “Realizing the Promise of Education for Development.