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Pupil-trained Teacher Ratio

Indicator Phrasing

pupil-trained teacher ratio
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: pupil-trained teacher ratio

French: nombre moyen d’élèves par enseignant

Spanish: proporción de alumnos por profesor

Portuguese: rácio de alunos e alunas por professor/a formado/a

Czech: poměr žáků a vyškolených učitelů

What is its purpose?

This indicator measures the ratio of children to trained teachers, a key factor influencing children’s learning. ‘Trained’ can be adapted to ‘qualified’ if qualification levels are the most important factor in the context and/or project/programme. The indicator can also be reduced to its simplest form to measure class size (i.e. average number of children per class in given school/learning space and/or grade/level). Refer to Important Comments below for additional guidance.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

1) Gather enrolment data of children by school/learning space, disaggregating by grade/level including birth dates (or ages, if birth dates aren’t available), if relevant. See Enrolment indicator for more information on gathering enrolment data.


2) Decide the criteria against which to measure whether a teacher is considered ‘trained’. The definition of ‘trained’ will vary by context and can be based on professional qualifications, attendance of training sessions, etc. 


3) Once the criteria for teachers have been decided upon, gather data on how many teachers in the school/ learning space/ community/ target area have been trained. In its simplest form, this can include a teacher’s professional qualification (university/teacher training college certificates), training attendance data (if training is provided by an organisation) or a survey with teachers themselves about the training they have received.


4) Gather data on each trained teacher’s contract status in relation to the grade/level/subject taught, and whether they are a full-time or part-time teacher (and how many hours/week or month they are contracted to teach). This data can be requested from school or learning space management or the relevant education authorities.


5) Allocate a ‘value’ to each teacher based on the amount of time they are contracted to work. For example, assuming a 5-day working week, a full-time teacher working 5 days a week is calculated as 1, a teacher contracted for 4 days a week is calculated as 0.8, and a teacher working for 2 days a week is calculated as 0.4. Calculate the overall number of trained teachers, per grade/level if relevant, accounting for teachers working on part-time contracts. In this example, the overall number of teachers trained would be 2.2.


6) If calculating pupil-trained teacher ratios at the school/learning space level, divide the total number of children in the school/learning space by the number of trained teachers in the school/learning space. If calculating pupil-trained teacher ratios per grade/level, divide the total number of children in the grade/level by the number of trained teachers in the same grade/level in that academic year or non-formal education (NFE) cycle. The ratio will then be the determined value (number of pupils) to 1 trained teacher (XX pupils: 1 trained teacher). School/learning space level calculations can be combined if calculating ratios at the community/ target area level.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregation of the data can be done by the education level and/or type of school or learning space (formal versus non-formal), teacher training level or education or qualification level, and subject taught.

Important Comments

1) This is INEE Indicator 4.2.


2) Though the indicator references “pupils”, it can also be used to measure children not formally enrolled in education/those participating in PSS/NFE/skills sessions, etc. as relevant to the project.


3) Pupil-trained teacher ratio is frequently used to serve a similar purpose as average class size. However, they are not equivalent. Using an average class size instead of pupil-trained teacher ratio makes for a more straightforward calculation and avoids having to deal with issues of part-time teaching, school or learning space-shifts, multi-grade classes and other practices (see below for guidance on measuring class size). Pupil-trained teacher ratio is a more complex measure, as it also accounts for teacher training and qualifications, as well as working conditions (such as part-time workers). The higher the pupil-trained teacher ratio, the lower the relative access of pupils to trained teachers. This UNESCO guidance (partly adapted below) provides additional considerations, and more information on pupil to trained teacher ratios:

  • The ‘ideal’ pupil-trained teacher ratios may depend on a wide variety of complex factors, including the age and academic needs of the pupils represented in the ratio (younger children or those with special educational needs typically require more time, attention, and instructional support from teachers) or the experience, skill, and effectiveness of the teachers (highly skilled teachers may be able to achieve better academic results with larger classes than less skilled teachers with smaller classes)
  • In calculating and interpreting this indicator, one should take into account the existence of part-time teaching, school or learning space-shifts, multi-grade classes and other practices that may affect the precision and meaningfulness of pupil-trained teacher ratios. When feasible, the number of part-time teachers should be converted to ‘full-time equivalent’ numbers of teachers; a double-shift teacher should be counted twice, etc. Ideally, all staff involved in direct classroom-teaching roles should be included in the calculations
  • Results can be compared with established national norms on the number of pupils per trained teacher for each level of education.


4) Class size: This indicator can be adapted to its simplest form to measure class size or pupil-teacher ratio, depending on the specific needs and capacities within a context, project or programme.

  • To do this, divide the total number of children enrolled in the given school or learning space by the number of classes (= class size) or teachers (= pupil-teacher ratio). Whilst this does not assess teacher training and/or qualifications, it provides a base level of information regarding pupil-teacher ratio.
  • According to INEE’s Minimum Standards, the recommended maximum class size for primary grades is 40 children per teacher. This number may vary depending on contextualised standards in each context, so it is important that the relevant standard at the country- or sub-national-level are adhered to (these standards may be provided by the national Ministry of Education or related education authority, or by the Education Cluster/Working Group).
  • In addition to the maximum class size stated above, average class sizes should also be measured against the national averages available from the Ministry of Education as in many cases the average class size will be lower than the maximum class size. 
  • If there are big differences between the number of children in different grades or levels (e.g. average class size for first cycle: grade 1-5 and for second cycle: grade 6-9), different grades or levels may need to be calculated separately to get a more accurate picture.
  • Depending on the purpose of this indicator (i.e. for project design or planning vs project monitoring or measurement of impact), it might be required to calculate the value of this indicator based on the number of attending children, instead of enrolled children. This will give a more accurate idea of pupil-teacher ratio in real terms (for example, if attendance rates are significantly higher or lower than enrolment rates).


5) Pupil-qualified teacher ratio: This indicator can be adapted to measure pupil to qualified teacher ratios, if official teacher qualifications are the most important criteria in the context, project or programme.

  • To do this, use the above guidance on pupil-trained teacher ratio, considering this UNESCO guidance which defines a qualified teacher has at least the minimum academic qualifications required for teaching their subjects at the relevant level in a given country in a given academic year. The nationally or locally accepted standard for a ‘qualified teacher’ can be ascertained from the relevant education authority, or if not available, through the Education Cluster/Working Group.
  • It is important to note that national academic qualification requirements can vary from one country to the next. To address this limitation, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has initiated the development of an international classification of teacher training programmes that can be used for comparisons of such programmes across countries.


6) Related indicators:


        - 4.3 % of male/female teachers/administrators

        - 4.4 % of teachers from minority groups

     Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

        - 4.c.1: Proportion of teachers with the minimum required qualifications, by education level


        - number of teachers without a degree

This guidance was prepared by People in Need ©

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