Higher pay for teachers doesn’t lead to better learning outcomes, studies find.
While activists have often claimed that India’s spending on education, including remuneration for teachers, must increase for learning outcomes to get better, two new studies cited in The Economist say that teachers’ salaries and teacher-to-pupil ratio could have little bearing on learning levels. GEMS Education Solutions, a consultancy, looks at the relationship between spending and outcomes in 30 rich and developing nations while the OECD’s annual Education at a Glance report, examines school financing’s impact on the learning levels.
The GEMS study throws up some interesting results—while former Soviet bloc nations Czech Republic and Hungary spend very efficiently, i.e., for the money they spend, they have high returns in term of learning levels, the US’s expensive school system offers much sub-par efficiency and disappointing outcomes. Similarly, though average teacher salaries are much higher in Switzerland than in Finland—which was ranked by OECD-run PISA as the country with best learning outcomes for students—basic reading and science are areas in which the Alpine nation lags badly. Coming to student-teacher ratios, Finland and South Korea, again another country rated high by PISA, have more number of students per teacher but outperform France and Norway, which have fewer pupils per teacher. Outcomes register an impact only when the ratio is too high, like in the case of Brazil and Chile. The findings counter the argument on increasing spending on overheads like teachers’ pay and strength. But hiring high-quality teachers—a factor that PISA researchers say could influence learning the most—would also mean offering competitive salaries. So, while spending is not likely to directly impact the outcomes in the sector, it certainly does facilitate factors that do.