3.3.2 Deployment to rural, remote and difficult urban areas

In an effective deployment strategy, teachers are deployed where they are needed most. A deployment strategy should in particular ensure the provision of teachers in remote rural and difficult urban areas. Such a strategy must engage with the realities and specific needs of schools in these areas; it should identify, recruit and retain teachers who have the necessary skills and commitment to work in those schools and are able to engage with and motivate learners, their parents and the wider community. Several promising strategies allow deploying teachers to such locations:Footnote 14

  • Rewarding service in hard-to-staff schools with accelerated progression along the career and salary path
  • Tying education subsidies to mandatory placements in rural or remote areas
  • Applying fast-track programmes giving teachers identified as future leaders access to Master’s programmes or training in education management after a minimum period of service in a hard-to-staff school
  • Selecting and training students who are motivated to serve in rural or remote areas
  • Training and recruiting students from rural or remote communities
  • Facilitating professional development for rural education workers
  • Providing access to distance CPD, including distance programmes to improve academic or education management qualifications
  • Waiving fees to access distance education programmes
  • Offering study leave
  • Providing smart phones, e-readers or laptops and mobile Internet connections for CPD
  • Providing housing and/or transport
  • Providing real financial incentives that are not cancelled out by other incentives or advantages, and are important enough to motivate change
  • Fostering interaction between urban and rural education workers.

As discussed above, meeting the needs of schools in hard-to-reach areas may also include recruiting and training local teachers, who are likely to be well accepted and integrated in the local community, already speak the home language and are committed to remaining in the school or local area. It should be recognized that these strategies are not mutually exclusive: a deployment strategy may include, for example, employing and training local teachers while simultaneously attracting teachers from other geographical areas by providing significant incentives, thereby fostering diversity and quality in the teaching staff of hard-to-staff schools. Incentive strategies are only effective if they are part of a well-designed and implemented policy that effectively mitigates perverse and unintended consequences.


Countries in the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization have adopted a number of creative incentives to ensure teachers are deployed where they are needed: creation of special teacher positions for very remote areas (such as the mobile teacher programme in the Philippines); award systems or other incentives to attract teachers to under-served communities (housing allowance in Lao PDR, special stipends for some subject areas or funding for projects in Vietnam); education stipends in exchange for agreed postings in remote areas (Indonesia and Lao PDR); awards and prizes (China, Philippines, Vietnam); expanding multi-grade classrooms in small school districts (Lao PDR and Indonesia) :mobile teacher programme (Philippines); local hiring in-service training close to workplaces and simple, transparent information for local-level mangers about deployment (colour-coding scheme in Philippines).

Source: Teacher Task Force, 2011.

Box 3.8 mentions the expansion of multi-grade provision as a strategy for equitable distribution. Multi-grade education is normally a strategy for developing countries to meet education needs in remote rural and farming areas, where there are low population settlements. UIS (2012) data suggest that in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, at least 10% of students study in multi-grade classrooms. In Chad, almost half of all students are taught in such classrooms. Cambodia’s Education Sector Strategic Plan aims to develop training in multi-grade teaching methodology for teachers in remote schools, with priority given to those who already teach multi-grade classes. It also aims to develop an annual action plan on multi-grade teaching in remote areas and those populated by ethnic minority groups (UNESCO, 2014a).

3.3.3 Deployment to initial postings