The World Bank has produced yet another document which attacks teachers in the Global South The document - a lengthy 272 page book - is called Making Schools Work and is a survey of various research projects, carried out by Bruns, Filmer and Patrinos. It starts from the proposition that "front-line providers such as teachers, doctors and nurses (are failing) to perform effectively - or even, in many cases to show up." It begins with the provocative question: "How can it be that a teacher sleeps in a classroom in the middle of a school day while students wait patiently outside?" (p.1)And indeed the cover of the document shows a picture of  - apparently - a teacher asleep as another teacher works with pupils. The book also makes clear that it is only dealing with "those threats to education quality which cannot be explained by lack of resources." (p.1)Of the 'sleeping teacher' it says, "the teacher is in the classroom, his salary paid." Yet as readers of this site will know well, very frequently teachers in the global south do not have their salaries paid and when they are paid they are often not enough to keep the teacher in food - leave alone her family. Interestingly later in the book an Indian civil service teacher's basic salary is quoted (without comment)  as 1000 rupees a month - the equivalent of about $20 (p.178). So here might be the first answer to the authors' confusion - perhaps those 20% of teachers who are absent may be absent because they are hungry, trying to get money for their families by doing other work, ill or -as would undoubtedly be the case if they were working in an OECD country - too stressed to work under the intolerable conditions of huge classes, meagre resources and poor infrasturcture in which they have to work. At another point in the narrative, the authors complain that the reduction of the pupil teacher ratio in one project in Kenya from 80:1 to 46:1 resulted in 'reduced teacher effort' since the same teacher was dealing with fewer pupils (p.220) It would be interesting to know if the three World Bank economists who wrote this book would be able to live under the intolerable conditions and for the negligible pay which teachers in the Global South receive and whether they would be happy to send their own children to schools of the kind in which most of these teachers have to work. But of course this report is addressing threats to 'education quality' which are not caused by lack of resources. It is a bit like researching why a fire department is ineffective in putting out fires in a large town without taking into account that  it has just one broken down fire-tender, no diesel, few trained personnel and those that it has so poor that they can scarcely keep body and soul together. All this is bad enough but perhaps the most egregious aspect of this report is its presentation of the use of contract teachers as a useful policy tool to increase 'teacher accountability'. It quotes studies inKenya and India for example where contract teachers can be paid as little as  a tenth of the salary earned by civil serivce teachers. It concludes that employing contract teachers is more 'cost-effective' than employing regular teachers - in India - it says - 'dramatially so' (p.156). As the document says, "the crucial question is not whether an intervention 'works' ; it is how well it works in relation to its cost and in comparison with alternative uses of those resources." (p.242) Yet the use of contract teachers - continually insecure, appallingly badly paid and often untrained has dire effects both on the teachers themselves and of course on education systems - (for a more detailed look at this see: http://www.teachersolidarity.com/blog/contract-teachers-a-world-bank-%e2%80%98solution%e2%80%99-for-education/#more-1625) The World Bank is the organisation which prescribes public spending cuts and ever increasing debt to the Global South - even as it clears the way for corporations to exploit the riches which those countries possess. Meanwhile its public face advocates education for all, while attacking the people who, against all the odds are struggling to give the poor children of the world an education - the world's teachers. To access the document go to: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-1298568319076/makingschoolswork.pdf