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Time to Teach

Time to Teach

Teachers need to be present and spend sufficient time on task to provide quality education for their students in school. Yet, according to recent findings, teacher absenteeism rates remain high in certain parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Time to Teach captures the voices of thousands of teachers and other education stakeholders to identify factors affecting their attendance and uses this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies in 20 African countries. Drawing from both quantitative and qualitative data on a range of topics—from motivation to retention—this research aims to identify solutions for sustainable change. Established in 2017, the project is a collaboration between UNICEF Innocenti, UNICEF regional and country offices, national governments, local research partners, DFID, World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard Foundation. 

Publications

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Ghana
Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Ghana

Education has been a priority for Ghana since its independence, with current expenditures representing double the average for Africa and other developing nations. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government aimed to enhance the quality of education and teacher attendance, including improving school infrastructure and providing textbooks and incentive packages to attract more teachers to rural and remote areas. However, the disruption of the pandemic forced school closures and economic consequences, threatening to push millions of vulnerable children out of the education system, widen inequalities and impede progress on the country’s development goals. The Ghana Time to Teach research project set out to capture teachers’ voices and provide a comprehensive understanding of teacher attendance in pre-tertiary schools in the country. Although data collection for this study was completed before the onset of COVID-19, it provides valuable insights into how the national education system can be strengthened to improve teacher motivation, attendance, and time on task. Detailed findings, analysis and policy implications can be found in the report.
Time to Teach: L’assiduité des enseignants et le temps consacré à l’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Côte d’Ivoire
Publication

Time to Teach: L’assiduité des enseignants et le temps consacré à l’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Côte d’Ivoire

Si la Côte d’Ivoire a accompli de grands progrès pour faciliter l’accès à son système éducatif et en améliorer la qualité, d’importantes lacunes subsistent en matière d’apprentissage et de réussite des élèves. On estime que huit enfants sur dix en Côte d’Ivoire ne maîtrisent pas la lecture à l’âge de 10 ans et disposent de compétences insuffisantes en mathématiques à la sortie du primaire. Les données probantes existantes suggèrent que l'absentéisme des enseignants serait responsable de la perte d'environ 25 pour cent du temps d'enseignement dans les écoles primaires du pays. Si l’on tient compte de l’absentéisme des élèves et des retards dans le calendrier scolaire, la perte moyenne s’élève à deux mois par année scolaire. La présente étude « Time to Teach » vise à contribuer à une meilleure compréhension de l’assiduité des enseignants dans les écoles primaires en Côte d’Ivoire. Pour ce faire, l’étude adopte un concept large de l’absentéisme des enseignants, qui comprend : l’absence de l’école, le manque de ponctualité, l’absence de la salle de classe et la réduction du temps d’enseignement.
Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires et secondaires collégiales au Maroc
Publication

Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires et secondaires collégiales au Maroc

L'absentéisme des enseignants a été identifié comme l’un des principaux obstacles au progrès éducatif et à l’apprentissage des enfants au Maroc. Des études antérieures suggèrent que le taux d’absentéisme scolaire est de 4,4 pour cent et que le taux d’absentéisme en classe est de 5,5 pour cent, avec des chiffres plus élevés dans les écoles publiques et rurales. Bien qu’il existe peu d’analyses empiriques sur l’incidence de l’absentéisme des enseignants dans les écoles primaires et secondaires du pays, certaines études récentes montrent qu’il contribue à l’inefficacité des dépenses d’éducation. La pandémie de COVID-19 ne fera qu'exacerber les défis existants. L’étude Time to Teach (TTT) vise à combler le manque de connaissances relatives aux motivations et aux facteurs associés à l’absentéisme des enseignants du primaire et du secondaire collégial au Maroc.
Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires au Gabon
Publication

Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires au Gabon

L'absentéisme des enseignants est un défi particulier affectant la qualité de l'éducation au Gabon. Des études antérieures suggèrent que les enseignants du primaire sont absents en moyenne 2 jours par mois, ce qui affecte directement les progrès éducatifs et l'apprentissage des enfants. Bien que le défi de l'absentéisme soit reconnu par les acteurs politiques nationaux comme l’un des problèmes les plus répandus dans le système éducatif du pays, les études sur les facteurs, les politiques et les pratiques qui influencent l’assiduité des enseignants au Gabon restent rares. La pandémie de COVID-19 ne fera qu'exacerber les défis existants. L'étude Time to Teach (TTT) vise à combler ce manque de connaissances et à renforcer la base de preuves sur les différents types d'assiduité des enseignants du primaire et les facteurs qui y contribuent.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in secondary schools in Rwanda
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in secondary schools in Rwanda

In Rwanda, over 3.5 million children were estimated to be out of school in 2020 when the country closed all schools as a safety measure against the spread of COVID-19. The government quickly developed a national response plan and started the process of hiring teachers, constructing classrooms and training in-service teachers in remote-learning pedagogies. Prior to the lockdown, schools were already experiencing challenges, including low attendance rates. In the post-COVID-19 environment, learning losses are expected to be significant, especially on the acquisition of foundational skills, and will hinder the ministry's efforts to achieve the learning outcomes of its new competence-based curriculum. A Time to Teach study in 2020 in Rwanda found that low teacher attendance was a common problem in primary schools. This study seeks to support the Ministry of Education by providing a comprehensive understanding of secondary school teacher attendance in the country. It builds on findings from the primary schools' study, to understand how attendance challenges may be similar or different across education levels, and more importantly, how these can help inform teacher policy design and implementation.
Time to Teach: Understanding teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Liberia
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Time to Teach: Understanding teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Liberia

In Liberia, recurring school absenteeism and post abandonment are considered critical obstacles to quality education. Although national political actors recognize absenteeism as a major impediment to quality education, studies on the factors influencing teacher attendance in the country, including national policies and practices at the community and school levels, remain scarce. Also, there is a lack of knowledge on the direct and indirect ways the coronavirus pandemic and the measures adopted to contain it impact primary school teachers. This Time to Teach study seeks to fill these knowledge gaps. The report provides valuable insights into how the COVID-19 crisis may exacerbate existing education system challenges that affect teacher attendance and time on task. It also collects and strengthens the evidence base on the factors affecting the various dimensions of primary school teacher attendance to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Nigeria
Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Nigeria

Prior to COVID-19 lockdowns, the Federal Republic of Nigeria had taken measures to improve the quality of education and of teachers’ working conditions such as by improving school infrastructure and accelerating teacher training programs, and providing incentive schemes for teachers. While education is free and compulsory, Nigeria reports the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. Economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of school closures, and the shift towards remote learning are anticipated to pose further constraints and push even more vulnerable children out of the education system. Teacher absenteeism and the poor use of instructional time are also significant problems for the Nigerian education system, negatively affect students’ academic performance and learning. This Time to Teach study seeks to support both federal and state governments by providing a comprehensive understanding of teacher attendance in the country’s primary schools. It also aims to provide insights into how attendance challenges may be similar or different across the types of schools (public/Quranic/private) and settings (urban/rural) and more importantly, how these can inform teacher policy design and implementation. Though data were collected prior to COVID-19 school closures, this study also aims to provide insights on how the pandemic may further exacerbate existing challenges.
Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires au Togo
Publication

Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires au Togo

L'absentéisme des enseignants est un défi particulier affectant la qualité de l'éducation au Togo. Des études précédentes suggèrent qu'une fois dans la salle de classe, les enseignants n'enseignaient que 79 pour cent du temps, ce qui signifie que près d'un cinquième du temps était consacré à d'autres activités. Cette réduction du temps d'enseignement était exacerbée par l'absentéisme des enseignants. Bien que le défi de l’absentéisme soit reconnu par les acteurs politiques nationaux, les études sur les facteurs, les politiques et les pratiques qui influencent l’assiduité des enseignants et enseignantes au Togo restent rares. La pandémie de COVID-19 ne fera qu’aggraver les défis existants au sein du système éducatif togolais. L’étude Time to Teach (TTT) vise à combler ce manque de connaissances et à renforcer la base de données factuelles sur les différents types d’assiduité des enseignants du primaire, et les facteurs qui y contribuent.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Côte d’Ivoire
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire has made great strides in improving access and quality in its education system, but significant gaps in student learning and achievement remain. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 Ivorian children are not proficient in reading by the age of 10, and do not have enough math skills at the end of primary school. In Côte d’Ivoire, teacher absenteeism is estimated to responsible for the loss of approximately 25 per cent of teaching time. In the specific case of primary education, it is estimated that teacher absenteeism and other calendar delays are responsible for the loss of two months of courses per year on average. This Time to Teach study seeks to contribute to a better understanding of teacher attendance in Côte d’Ivoire’s primary schools. The study adapts a broad concept of teacher absenteeism which includes: absence from school, lack of teacher punctuality, absence from the classroom and reduction in the time dedicated to teaching.
Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Mauritanie
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Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Mauritanie

L'absentéisme des enseignants et le non-respect du temps scolaire constituent un obstacle persistant à l'apprentissage universel de qualité en République Islamique de Mauritanie. Cependant, les données vérifiées sur les facteurs, les politiques et les pratiques relatives à l'assiduité des enseignants en Mauritanie restent rares. Dans l'environnement post-COVID-19, il y a raison de s'inquiéter du fait que l'ampleur des répercussions sociales et économiques de la pandémie aggrave davantage les défis existants au sein du système éducatif mauritanien. L'étude Time to Teach cherche à combler ce manque de connaissances.
Time to Teach: L’assiduité des enseignants et le temps consacré à l’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Niger
Publication

Time to Teach: L’assiduité des enseignants et le temps consacré à l’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Niger

L’absentéisme des enseignants représente l’un des principaux défis pour parvenir à l’apprentissage universel dans de nombreux pays en développement, où les taux d’absence des enseignants varient de 3% à 27%. Une fois dans la salle de classe, les enseignants ne consacrent que 77% de leur temps prévu aux tâches d’enseignement. Dans l’environnement post COVID-19, il y a inquiétude que l’ampleur des répercussions sociales et économiques de la pandémie n’aggrave encore ces chiffres. Bien que le défi de l’absentéisme soit reconnu par les acteurs locaux de l’éducation, les études sur les facteurs, les politiques et les pratiques qui influencent l’assiduité des enseignants au Niger restent rares. L’étude Time to Teach (TTT) cherche à combler ce manque de connaissances.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Guinea-Bissau
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Guinea-Bissau

Teacher absenteeism is one of the most troubling obstacles on the path toward universal access to learning opportunities at school. Over the past decades, studies have found that teacher absenteeism is particularly prevalent in certain parts of Africa. While Guinea-Bissau has not administered or taken part in regional or international efforts to systematically monitor and assess the rates of teacher absenteeism, the issue is noted in the 2017–2025 Education Sector Plan, which includes an aim to strengthen controls on teacher absenteeism. This Time to Teach study seeks to fill this important knowledge gap and support the Ministry of National Education and Higher Education in its efforts to strengthen the teachers’ role in school to increase their time on task. This study outlines the various forms of primary school teacher absenteeism (e.g., absence from school, classroom, teaching, etc.), explores teacher absenteeism from a systemic perspective and identifies factors at different levels of the education system that affect teacher attendance and time on task. It also identifies gaps in teacher policy and policy implementation linked to identified determinants of absenteeism and barriers to higher teacher attendance rates, and identifies promising practices and actionable policy recommendations on increasing teachers’ time on task.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in The Gambia
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in The Gambia

The international standards for teaching time in a year are 880 hours. In The Gambia, dedicated teaching time in a year is 734 hours. This reduced time is exacerbated by teacher absenteeism that varies across the different regions in the country from 12 to 30%, and is a barrier to achieving the required learning outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding an already compromised learning and teaching environment in The Gambia. This Time to Teach study looks at four dimensions of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual (i.e., not arriving late/leaving early); being in the classroom (while in school); and spending sufficient time on task (while in the classroom). It also identifies factors associated with teacher absenteeism at five different levels of the education system: national, subnational, community, school, and teacher. This report provides recommendations that may help strengthen the ministry’s efforts to improve teachers’ time on task in The Gambia. .
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and Time on Task in West and Central Africa – Summary
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and Time on Task in West and Central Africa – Summary

In sub-Saharan Africa, the loss of teaching hours due to teacher absenteeism corresponds to a waste of approximately 46 cents for every US dollar invested in education, an annual wastage of 1–3% of GDP. This brief summarizes the results of research in 11 countries in West and Central Africa under the Time to Teach study, a project in UNICEF that aims to provide critical insights into the factors that underpin different forms of primary school teacher absenteeism. It explains the frequency of teacher absenteeism in four forms—absence from school, lateness or early departure, absence from the classroom, and reduced time on task – and the reasons teachers give for their absence. But teachers are also motivated by factors such as training, availability of teaching and learning resources, and other non-system factors. More details are available in the country reports.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Mozambique
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Mozambique

This Time to Teach study collates and strengthens the evidence base on primary school teacher absenteeism in Mozambique.
Time to Teach: Assiduité des enseignants et temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires aux Comores
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Time to Teach: Assiduité des enseignants et temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires aux Comores

L’absentéisme des enseignants constitue un obstacle important à la réalisation d’une éducation universelle de qualité. Il est de plus en plus évident que l’absentéisme des enseignants constitue un problème particulier dans les pays à faible et moyen revenu du monde entier, les taux d’absentéisme scolaire des enseignants variant entre 15 et 45 % en Afrique subsaharienne. Aux Comores, les études existantes suggèrent que l’absentéisme des enseignants est une préoccupation latente depuis des années. Cependant, la recherchesur les facteurs, les politiques et les pratiques qui affectent la présence des enseignants restent rares. L’étude « Time to Teach » (TTT) vise à combler ce fossé de connaissance.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools South Sudan
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools South Sudan

The Government of South Sudan, through the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI) and its development partners, has made efforts over the past decade to rebuild South Sudan’s primary education system. Challenges to the delivery of education have persisted, both within the education system and external to it.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools Tanzania
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools Tanzania

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving quality education in many low- and middle-income countries globally, where teachers’ school absence rates range from 3 per cent to 27 per cent. Tanzania Mainland has made significant progress in achieving universal primary education and improving the quality of education. Since 2002, access to primary education has expanded exponentially. Yet, quality of learning outcomes remains a challenge. One of the key factors for the provision of quality education is teacher attendance. While many reasons for teachers’ absenteeism appear to be valid, such as lack of reliable transport and bad climate conditions, other causes are hard to justify, such as when teachers fail to prepare for lessons. Time to Teach (TTT) targets this knowledge gap. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of primary school teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher-related policies. Specifically, the study looks at four distinct forms of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual; being in the classroom; and spending sufficient time on task while in the classroom.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools Zanzibar
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools Zanzibar

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving quality education in many low- and middle-income countries globally, where teachers’ school absence rates range from 3 per cent to 27 per cent. Over the past few decades, Zanzibar has implemented a number of policy reforms and made tremendous progress in expanding access to primary education. Yet, the quality of learning outcomes remains weak. One of the major factors hindering the provision of quality education is teacher absenteeism, which is a prevalent phenomenon across primary schools. Time to Teach (TTT) targets this knowledge gap. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of primary school teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher-related policies. Specifically, the study looks at four distinct forms of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual; being in the classroom; and spending sufficient time on task while in the classroom.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a learning crisis. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are in ‘learning poverty’, i.e. they cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In sub- Saharan Africa, the learning poverty rate is 87 per cent overall, and ranges from 40 per cent to as high as 99 per cent in the 21 countries with available data. Teachers attending lessons and spending quality time on task is a critical prerequisite to learning. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, teacher absenteeism ranges from 15 to 45 per cent. Teacher absenteeism and reduced time on task wastes valuable financial resources, short-changes students and is one of the most cumbersome obstacles on the path toward the education Sustainable Development Goal and to the related vision of the new UNICEF education strategy: Every Child Learns. Whilst the stark numbers are available to study, and despite teacher absenteeism being a foremost challenge for education systems in Africa, the evidence base on how policies and practices can influence teacher attendance remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) is a research initiative that looks at primary school teacher attendance in eight countries and territories in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region: the Comoros; Kenya; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland; the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar; and Uganda. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of teacher attendance, which include being at school, being punctual, being in the classroom, and teaching when in the classroom, and use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Puntland, State of Somalia
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Puntland, State of Somalia

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving national educational goals in many low- and middle-income countries, where teacher absence rates range from 3 to 27 per cent. While there is no data available from Puntland, State of Somalia (hereafter Puntland) on teacher absenteeism trends, regional cases suggest this is a chronic problem facing many schools throughout Africa, with an average of 15 to 45 per cent of all primary school teachers absent from the classroom on any given day. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education is beginning to increasingly prioritize the role of the teacher in the provision of effective time on task, and thus, has taken measures to deter teacher absenteeism. The Time to Teach (TTT) study seeks to address this knowledge gap. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various dimensions of primary school teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies. Specifically, the study looks at four distinct dimensions of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual; being in the classroom; and spending sufficient time on task while in the classroom.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Rwanda
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Rwanda

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving quality universal education. There is mounting evidence that teacher absenteeism is a challenge in low- and middle-income countries around the globe. The rates of teacher absence in these countries varies between 3 to 27 per cent. Within these average national prevalence rates, it is suspected that absenteeism may be higher in poorer, rural areas. Due to a dearth of research on teacher absenteeism, the consequences of this phenomenon are not fully evident. However, it is clear that countries are losing valuable resources they channelled into their education systems. This study moves beyond the conventional conception of teacher absenteeism—that of absence from school—to include other forms of absenteeism. The reasoning behind such a broad framing is that increasing evidence shows that school attendance does not necessarily equate to other forms of presence, including punctuality, being in the classroom, teaching for the proper duration, and teaching effectively.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Kenya
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Kenya

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving quality education in many low- and middle-income countries globally, where teachers’ school absence rates range from 3 per cent to 27 per cent. In Kenya, where primary education has made remarkable improvements in recent years, teacher absenteeism remains a foremost challenge for the education system. In 2102, the World Bank estimated the average rate of teacher absenteeism from schools across the country at 15 per cent and the average rate of teacher absenteeism from the classroom at 42 per cent. A 2016 study conducted in 4,529 Kenyan primary schools found that on average, one in ten teachers was absent from school and that half of all schools had a teacher absenteeism rate in excess of 10 per cent. While the stark numbers are available, the evidence base on what factors, policies and practices affect teacher attendance in Kenya remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) targets this knowledge gap. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of primary school teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher-related policies. Specifically, the study looks at four distinct forms of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual; being in the classroom; and spending sufficient time on task while in the classroom.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Uganda
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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Uganda

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving learning outcomes in many low- and middle-income countries, where teacher school absence rates range from 3 to 27 per cent. In Uganda, primary education has achieved several milestones resulting in significant gains, including over 90 per cent literacy rate throughout the different districts, 94 per cent of the teaching force trained, and ongoing commitment from the Ministry of Education and Sports towards enhancing the provision of education. Uganda has also achieved gender parity in primary school enrolments, which in 2016 was at 84.1 per cent for girls and 83.3 per cent for boys. There are, however, ongoing challenges that put pressures on current gains and future goals. UNICEF Uganda estimates at least 60 per cent of Uganda's teachers are not present in the classroom at half of all public schools. Regional observations indicate teacher absence is a much larger issue in Uganda than other neighbouring countries, and that their subject knowledge is lower, comparatively. The Time to Teach (TTT) study seeks to support the ministry in its efforts to strengthen teachers’ role in the school in order to increase their time on task. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various dimensions of primary school teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies. Specifically, the study looks at four distinct dimensions of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual; being in the classroom; and spending sufficient time on task while in the classroom.