How to Recruit Teachers for Hard-to-Staff Schools: A Systematic Review of Evidence from Low- And Middle-Income Countries

Education systems struggle to staff schools in rural areas or in areas with high concentrations of poverty. Potential policy solutions include financial incentives, mandatory rotations, and local recruitment drives, among others. First, this systematic review provides evidence on challenges with teacher staffing in certain types of schools. We observe lower teacher skill and higher teacher absence in rural areas in many countries. Second, the review synthesizes available experimental and quasi-experimental studies of government-implemented policies to increase the quantity or quality of teachers in hard-to-staff schools in low- or middle-income countries. Financial incentives—the most evaluated policies—are often effective at increasing the supply or reducing the turnover of teachers in hard-to-staff schools, and well-designed incentives can also increase the quality of teachers in these schools. Impacts on student outcomes are often positive. Although there are fewer evaluations, behavioral and informational interventions have been cost-effective in reducing vacancies in two countries.

This article was published in Economics of Education Review in August 2023 ( This is the final, published version. The working paper was originally published in October 2021. The original version can be viewed here.

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