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Submitted by Jakob Fredensborg on

Dear Shanta,

Thank you for your reply! I will wait for the forthcoming WDR with anticipation and excitement. I do however feel that you only partly answered my question. Intrinsic motivation and professional norms develop over time, but they do not do so in a vacuum; public opinion (especially in key demographic groups) matter as well, as does the country context.

In the early 90's a combination of events (where decreased learning outcomes was but one) led to a sharp decrease in public opinion of teachers in my own country (Denmark). Colleges had great difficulty in attracting would be teachers, so much that demand by far outweighed supply; gloomy forecasts from the national statistics office questioned whether sustainable supply was even possible. Responding to the crisis the Socialdemocratic government tried to manipulate hard incentives to attract more young people into teacher colleges to no avail. It was only, when an investigation amongst teachers themselves (conducted by the unions and municipal governments association) uncovered that the seriously bad PR status of the teacher profession was the main obstacle to boosting supply, that the issue could be addressed. Via a combination of public awareness campaigns, increased dialogue with parents and other key demographics, as well as reformation of hard incentives, the situation was remedied (of course looking at PISA scores and accompanying surveys there is strong evidence that the crisis put Denmark in the other ditch).

Let me be clear though, I am not at all neither advocating a direct comparison of 90's Denmark and '14s developing world nor am I advocating a cold shift towards looking at soft incentives. I guess I am questioning whether the dialogue being conducted between the World Bank (as well as other development partners in client countries) contains the correct blend of issues or is there an over-emphasis on looking at problems from a single perspective? it seems, the solutions discussed (at least according to the experience I have) centres around wage bill management, teacher qualifications and availability of teaching materials. Usually side issues are: public investment management as well as governance issues. Of course, looking at the institutional set-up in client countries all those issues make a lot of sense. Yet I can't help escape the feeling that this has been the mantra for a long time, and there seems comparatively little to show for it.

Kind Regards,

Jakob