Call Me, Maybe? Technology and Teacher Support in Niger

Prof. Dr. Jenny Aker, Tufts University

Teacher absenteeism is an important constraint to learning gains in many low-income countries, especially in remote areas that are costly to monitor. We report the results from a randomized evaluation of an intervention designed to improve teacher accountability and preparedness in primary schools in Niger.

Primary schools were randomly assigned to one of three mobile-based interventions: bi-weekly monitoring phone calls to several stakeholders within the village, bi-weekly texts and calls providing pedagogical support to teachers, or both. We find that the mobile monitor intervention improved teacher and school director attendance, with an order of magnitude of an additional three hours of instruction per week. Teachers also felt more appreciated. The interventions also increased parents’ engagement in the school and aspirations for their children. While test scores improve significantly by the third year, we do not find statistically significant effects. This could be due, in part, to limited learning gains (amongst teachers) and low student attendance. Overall, this suggests that using mobile phone technology to communicate with teachers and students can improve attendance and engagement, but may not be able to substitute for more intensive teacher trainings.

About the speaker

Jenny Aker is a Professor of Development Economics at the Fletcher School and Department of Economics at Tufts University. Jenny works on economic development in Africa, with a primary focus on the impact of information and information technology on development outcomes, particularly in the areas of agriculture, agricultural markets, adult education, and financial inclusion.

Venue: 0.18, UNU-MERIT, Boschstraat 24, Maastricht

Date: 10 November 2022

Time: 12:30 - 13:30  CET