We study the effect of teacher subject knowledge on student achievement in mathematics and reading by using a data set from six sub-Saharan African countries. By using an estimation based on within-teacher within-student strategy, we can avoid a potential endogeneity bias. In most estimations and most countries, we do not find a significant teacher knowledge effect. The main reasons are teacher absenteeism and the need to focus on core knowledge. For instance, a high level of teacher absenteeism and low teacher performance in a subset of items that are also administered to students can attenuate the teacher subject knowledge effect on student learning. When the conditions of low absenteeism and high teacher performance are met, teacher subject knowledge can have a significant and positive effect on student achievement.
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