Reward or punishment? An examination of the relationship between teacher and parent behavior and test scores in the Gambia

Document Type


Publication Date

July 2019

Journal Title

International Journal of Educational Development




Using the 2011 round of the Africa Program for Education Impact Evaluation Survey, we examine the prevalence of corporal punishment and praise in both school and home settings. We find that corporal punishment is highly prevalent, with 70% of students reporting that their teachers engaged in corporal punishment and 11.7% of students reporting being beaten themselves the day before the survey was given. Beating is more prevalent in high quality schools and is associated with lower fourth and sixth grade test scores after controlling for student, teacher, and school characteristics. Praise is less prevalent, but public praise from teachers and private praise from parents are both associated with higher test scores. Although results may suffer from endogeneity, they suggest teacher training could potentially be a cost-effective way of improving student outcomes.