An effective and efficient teacher salary system is one of the most important elements of a high
quality education system in any country (INEE, 2009). Teacher pay is directly linked with expanding
access to schooling and while it may not have a direct impact on specific learning outcomes, an
education system’s ability to pay its teachers well and on time is closely linked with positive results
such as teacher recruitment, retention, satisfaction and morale, as well as class size; factors that have
themselves been connected with education quality (Sommers, 2005). Ensuring teachers are paid in
full and on time is also only fair to teachers as many, particularly in contexts of state fragility and armed
conflict, educate other people’s children at enormous sacrifice to themselves and their families.
Establishing and maintaining an effective teacher salary system is not easy in any country but in
fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS) it is frequently a major barrier to rebuilding the education
system (INEE, 2009). There are numerous examples, particularly in contexts plagued by state fragility
and conflict, where teachers are either not paid at all, or if they are paid, their salaries are frequently
not paid in full and often weeks, if not months, late (see example in Box A).
The lack of effective teacher salary systems both denies young people their rights to an education
and also hinders the ‘peace dividend’ that usually comes with quickly restoring equitable access
to education (Buckland, 2005). Governments must determine how much teachers are paid and
establish a system to increase compensation based on experience and performance. They must
also establish appropriate mechanisms to ensure that funds transferred through the system are not
lost or leaked and they must maintain adequate teacher and education information management
systems as well as payroll and financial transaction records. Managing these systems can be
especially difficult in FCAS where the government often has limited capacity and resources to ensure
that these mechanisms are in place and are functioning properly.
Understandably, external donor assistance is frequently sought for teacher pay problems.
Indeed, the thrust of much of the call for donor support of teacher salaries is for increases in aid
channelled directly into paying salaries (Commission for Africa, 2005; Bennell, 2004 and Global
Campaign for Education, 2008). However, if a teacher salary system is not effective, any existing
or additional funds that are given to pay teachers, either from national governments or external
donors, are likely not to reach teachers. Hence, this report argues that policymakers need to have
a dual focus – not only on increasing national and international resources for teacher salaries,
but also on supporting teacher salary systems and the individual parts within them to ensure that
resources reach their intended destination.