Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in West and Central Africa

What factors influence absenteeism in Africa and what are the best practices for reducing it?

Children reading books in a classroom


Teachers are the most important drivers of students’ academic achievement and they are at the heart of learning recovery efforts. Finding out the bottlenecks and necessary conditions for ensuring teachers’ presence at school and in the classroom is essential. Time to Teach is a mixed methods research initiative that aims to find out the contextual, working conditions and policy factors impeding primary school teacher attendance in 11 West and Central African countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, The Gambia, and Togo. 

The study considers teacher attendance as multi-dimensional, in four distinct forms. Teachers were asked to about their attendance in relation to: (1) being school; (2) being punctual (arriving and leaving on time); (3) being the classroom; and (4) spending sufficient time on task. Evidence is drawn from national, system-wide qualitative data collection and school observations, and a quantitative survey of 1,673 teachers working in 234 purposively selected primary schools. While primary data were collected prior to the COVID-19 school closures (in the 2018/2019 school year), the study provides important insights on how the pandemic has exacerbated chronic challenges of education systems that impact teacher attendance and is therefore informative for policy, both in the current COVID-19 era and beyond.

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Ximena Játiva; Despina Karamperidou; Michelle Mills; Stefania Vindrola; Hanna Wedajo; Andrea Dsouza; Jessica Bergmann
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