Abstract: Teacher absenteeism in government primary schools in rural India is a huge and well-documented phenomenon. Using Christopher Hood’s cultural-theory framework of doing public management, this paper analyses this problem from four different perspectives, i.e. the hierarchist, egalitarian, individualist and fatalist management approach. The paper proceeds with a discussion of three innovative strategies currently proposed or pursued in India to deal with teacher absenteeism. These are 1) the creation of local-level institutions that could hold teachers accountable, 2) the creation of a voucher system to allow parents to choose the school (government or private) for their children, and 3) the recruitment of volunteers on contract basis to do a teaching job. These three strategies, the paper argues, can be interpreted as responses that fit, respectively, within an egalitarian, an individualist and a fatalist approach. The paper concludes that none of the four perspectives can be expected to provide ‘quick fix’ solutions, especially because they ‘act on’ teachers rather than ‘act with’ them. Teachers, it is argued, should get a larger role themselves in the formulation and implementation of a strategy to address teacher absenteeism.

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ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
The Open Education Journal
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)