Performance-based raise key to quality teaching: empirical study on Pakistan

Pakistan, Teaching, Quality, Pay

ISLAMABAD: ‘Quality’ of teaching has long been recognized as a pivotal factor in shaping young minds. However, due to institutional and informational limitations, Pakistan’s schools face considerable challenges when it comes to identifying and retaining effective educators, while simultaneously removing underperforming ones.

This predicament is particularly pronounced in public schools, which often grapple with stringent constraints on firing bad teachers. Addressing this persistent issue, a recent empirical study conducted by the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) initiative suggests that linking teacher remuneration to their performance has the potential to enhance educational efficiency within Pakistan’s system.


The study, titled “Inducing Positive Sorting through Performance Pay: Experimental Evidence from Pakistani Schools,” delves into the impact of connecting teacher compensation to their performance, as opposed to offering an unconditional annual raise. The research, which involved data collected from 7,000 teachers and 50,000 students across 300 private schools, aimed to assess the influence of these remuneration models on teacher behaviors and educational outcomes.

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Key findings of the study underscore the link between teachers’ enthusiasm for their profession and their preference for performance-based raises.

Educators who exhibited a strong commitment to their roles displayed a proclivity towards compensation tied to their performance metrics, particularly gauged by student scores, attendance regularity, and socially desirable behaviors.

This group of teachers showcased a heightened awareness of their instructional contributions, fostering a supportive environment by extending assistance to peers. Conversely, teachers who favored flat raises showed diminished trust in the performance evaluation system, often perceiving incentive-based raises as counterproductive.

Pakistan Teaching Quality

The empirical results mirror the prevalent challenges within Pakistan’s educational landscape. Notably, the study unveiled that teacher attendance was recorded at a mere 89%, while alarming figures indicated that 20% of fifth-grade students struggled to read a sentence or solve basic mathematical problems. These disheartening statistics echo broader trends observed in low-income countries and highlight the dire state of Pakistan’s educational standards.


The most compelling revelation from the study stems from the experimental implementation of the performance-pay system.

Among educators who were intrinsically motivated, those under the performance-based remuneration system exhibited a remarkable nine-fold enhancement in their performance compared to their counterparts who opted for flat raises. Additionally, a notable turnover was observed among teachers who initially favored flat raises, as they transitioned from institutions offering performance-linked pay to those providing flat-raise incentives.

Recognizing potential concerns associated with the long-term impact of the performance-pay framework, the study explored the effects on teaching practices. Results demonstrated that educators who opted for flat raises did not show significant improvement or regression in their teaching methods, except a proclivity to move to a different school. In stark contrast, those who embraced performance-based incentives exhibited a remarkable nine-fold enhancement in their educational approaches.

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In essence, the study underscores the potential of implementing a performance-pay system to address Pakistan’s educational challenges. Such a system generates a natural incentive for effective teachers to remain and encourages underperforming educators to seek alternative paths. Even within a cohort of motivated educators, the performance-pay structure emerges as an equitable and efficient mechanism for recognizing and rewarding their contributions.


RISE is supported by £36.8m in funding from the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), A$9.85m from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and US$1.7m from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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