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Supporting teachers for better student outcomes in Rwanda

Progress stage
Apr 2022 to Mar 2025
  • Rwanda
  • Education
  • Apr 2022 to Mar 2025

The project “Supporting Teacher Achievement in Rwandan Schools” (STARS), led by Georgetown University in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Rwanda and Innovation for Poverty Action, proposes to scale in public primary schools pay-for-performance contracts to raise teachers’ motivation and effort and improve student outcomes. FID supports the scale-up of this innovation to 10 of 30 Rwandan school districts.

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Des enseignants et des élèves dans une salle de classe au RwandaDes enseignants et des élèves dans une salle de classe au Rwanda


In Rwanda, reading levels among 2.5 million primary-school enrollees are slightly below average of Sub-Saharan African (Angrist et al., 2021) and 46% of fourth-grade students do not meet third grade expectations in numeracy (Republic of Rwanda, 2012). Gaps in learning are particularly large in low-income school districts with difference in learning levels having an impact far beyond the classroom and accounting for between 20-50% of income differences across countries (Angrist et al., 2021).

Teachers are key to student raising learning outcomes and central to addressing this learning crisis. However, in Rwanda 20% of primary schools teachers resign every year and low salaries exacerbate skill shortages (World Bank and Government of Rwanda, 2019). Thus, government capacity to recruit, motivate, and retain effective teachers is crucial to the goal of raising student learning outcomes.


A growing body of evidence suggests that when offered at the individual-teacher level and designed to incentivize student learning, teacher performance contracts are an evidence-based innovation that have enhanced student learning outcomes in contexts from India (Muralidharan and Sundararaman 2011; Muralidharan 2012) to Israel (Lavy, 2009) to Tanzania (Mbiti et al., 2019) to Uganda (Gilligan et al., forthcoming).

In Rwanda, the scale-up of this approach relies on rigorous evidence drawn from a randomized controlled trial conducted in partnership with the Rwanda Education Board (Leaver et al., 2021). In this model, the pay-for-performance contracts were based on a combination of three measures of teachers’ classroom inputs: their attendance, their preparation and their pedagogy. The results showed that teacher performance contracts delivered annual learning gains equivalent to an additional year of status-quo learning (Crawfurd, 2021), accompanied by improvements in teacher presence and classroom pedagogy.

The STARS scale-up leverages Rwanda’s existing teacher management system, which already includes a performance-based teacher payments model –the “imihigo” – which did not reward teacher’s efforts optimally, and student learning assessment system.

Des enseignants et des élèves dans une salle de classe au Rwanda

Expected results

The objective of the proposed project is to further test and scale up the STARS model within the Rwandan education system, by:

  • working with the Rwanda Education Board (REB) and the National Examinations Standard Agency (NESA) to build a centralized database of teacher value added and teaching observations, leveraging existing government teacher and student performance assessments;
  • testing the implementation of the STARS teacher performance metric through iterative refinement over three years and scale to 10 of 30 Rwandan school districts;
  • integrating STARS into the “imihigo” performance based teacher payments system to allow for nationwide sustained implementation drawing on existing teacher salary budgets

The short-term goal of the activities funded by FID is:

  • to establish the regulatory basis for using STARS contracts in teachers’ “imihigo” system scaling data systems needed for implementation of these contracts;
  • ensuring government budgetary availability for the required dissemination of the program on a larger scale.

In the mid and long term, STARS aims to improve learning outcomes for primary school children and their future outcomes.This intervention aims for positive impacts on the management of primary schools and teachers in Rwanda. It is expected to increase wages and job attachment for teachers whose value added in the classroom is high, improving labor-market outcomes for early career teachers disproportionately likely to exit the teaching profession (Zeitlin, 2021).

STARS is also supported Development Innovation Ventures (DIV).

Des enseignants et des élèves dans une salle de classe au Rwanda
Georgetown University

Georgetown University

Georgetown University Initiative on Innovation, Development, and Evaluation (Gui2de) has extensive experience in managing complex research collaborations and implementing cost-effective policy interventions at scale in East Africa.


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