Opinion » Blog » August 2012 » Where are the resources to inspect the performance of our schools?

31 Aug

Educational systems worldwide make provision to inspect the work of schools because of the quality of the total environment of any enterprise. What are the significant elements of the environment at Ghana’s basic education enterprise and what are the structures and strategies put in place to monitor and evaluate the performance


Educational systems worldwide make provision to inspect the work of schools because of the quality of the total environment of any enterprise. What are the significant elements  of the environment  at Ghana’s basic education enterprise and what  are the structures  and strategies put in place  to monitor  and evaluate  the performance of the educational system. Broadly speaking the significant  elements  are the physical  infrastructure  ie school buildings, the trained  teachers, available  on schedule, the teaching materials including books, the curriculum and the methodology for ensuring  learning  and a system of examining outputs.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Education Fund
Ghana’s new Education Act (Act778 of 2008), stipulates new bodies like the National Inspectorate Board, the National Council for curriculum and Assessment to regulate, oversee, monitar and evaluate aspects of pre-tertiary education.
Public knowledge and findings from researchers have identified factors which have contributed to the generally poor performance of our public schools. The ever so humorous Ghanaian character ,in many  ways meek and mild, prone to laughing and weeping rather than  holding public schools caricaturing  them as CYTO!A derogatory term  which described  the lack of suitable  infrastructure  and properly supervised teachers in the public basic schools!
Many public schools lack good infrastructure.

In many article of December 23, 2010 in this column described the deficient state of facilities in public schools managed by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly as follows;

*Water and its supply to schools; about 63 percent of schools, have no supply, while supply was poor in an additional  12 percent  of schools; schools  had to buy  from vendors  at a high  cost  or do without water altogether.

*Urinals were poor in about 39 percent  of schools ,or completely unavailable  as in about  27 percent  of schools ,this  is most  inconvenient particularly  for our teenage  girls,
*Hand washing provision is inadequate in most schools, posing serious health risks to pupils;
*Disposal of rubbish, cleaning  of gutters, provision of  disinfectants pose serious  challenges to schools  which inadequate capitation  grants cannot meet;
*About  45 percent  of schools  had classrooms  which are in poor condition; building  in poor condition ,many  had leaking  roofs or collapsing  roofs, cracks in walls, poor  drainage ,broken windows  and doors;
*Honeycombed walls instead of windows leave many classrooms hot and dark. Electricity supply was lacking in about 27 percent of schools while poor in 18 percent of schools supplied;
*School furniture was inadequate in about 36 percent of schools where more than two pupils sat in dual desk meant for two.
*most of these   schools lack facilities for ICT and Science which are compulsory subjects.
*Lack of  Library facilities  is one of these factors  contributing to poor command of  and performance in English  language .Very few pupils  have the opportunity  to read good material in English  outside their prescribed  textbooks .’’

These facts came to light in a research which was conducted by the Greater Accra Branch of the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), a civil society organisation which is dedicated to education in deprived communities .They exposed the poor state of the facilities in public schools in the nation’s capital, the responsibility ministry of education, the Ghana Education Service and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly. Without serious monitoring and evaluation by inspectors such as situations will not change for the better.
 
A visit to the National Inspectorate of Schools
Coming from  a seminar hosted by the Institute for Fiscal Policy (Thurday,23rd  August 2012) our ears were still buzzing with revelations  that budgetary  allocations  in government’s annual budget for education  are no guarantee  that funds  would be released in good time to perform the functions  for which those funds  were budgeted .It was also reported that the allocation of funds  to basic education  has been irregular ,unpredictable  and persistently on the decline during the past three years .Correcting  them is key to improved outcomes of basic education!
 
At the National Inspectorate Board, we had access to a well compiled manual entitled Quality Indicators for Evaluating School Performance at the Pre-tertiary Education Level in Ghana .The manual says that  the board  was set up ‘’to provide a diagnosis  of what  a school must do to improve ,in other words ,it must seek answers to questions such as:
*What   are the critical school -specific  interventions  required  for quality improvement?
*Why is one school performing better than the another?
*What are the resources  required  for a school  to improve.
 
The resources required for quality education
Interventions  cost money  and allocations from central  government  must be dependable ,must be regular  from year  to year ,and  must provide  for effective  monitoring  and evaluation.
A manual for school inspection compiled  by the National  inspectorate  Board  stressed  the following  as indicators to look  for in school visits:
  1. Quality leadership and management
  2. Availability and condition of academic ,physical ,sanitation and recreational  facilities
  3. Quality of teaching  and learning and standard of academic achievement  and
  4. School/community  relationships
The reports of school inspectors grade schools on a six-point scale as follows: Grade 1 is unsatisfactory; Grade 2 is weak; Grade 3 is Adequate; Grade 4 is Good; Grade 5 is very Good,and Grade 6 is Excellent.
It must be obvious that schools which achieve weak grades  are failing schools which require  drastic surgery, they must be fixed.

National Teaching Council   and the National council for curriculum  and Assessment Recruitment, training  and posting  of well qualified teachers  to school is the major responsibility  of the national  teaching council  and a major  ingredient of ensuring  quality education .Teachers  who are  not paid  for a whole year  when newly recruited ,teachers  who are absent  often on distance ,sandwich  and in-service training, teachers  who refuse  posting to deprived communities  are some of the negative characterisations of these bodies  can contribute much to  the rebranding  of the public  basic schools where quality  also prevail.

District Assemblies and Quality education
In writing this column we had our sights on the district assembly as the national administrative grassroots structure where the major interventions focused to ensure that quality public basic schools are everywhere. With allocation of funds from the district assemblies common Fund, the internally Generated Funds, district –based incentives for teachers, targeted allocations for deprived districts, where a child attends school should not matter much. It is the hope and  wish of these columnist s that the challenges  to the decentralisation process by education –related unions such as the Ghana National Association  of Teachers ,the National Association of Graduate Teachers  and the Teachers  and Educational  Workers Union ,as well as the Ghana Education Service, would  give  way to positive  co-operation to make district assemblies effective  as the crucibles for social and economic development and change.

Education Should Unite rather than Divide
This article is the third in memory of the late President Professor John Evans Atta Mills, its message is that  access and quality education  are what Ghanaians  seek  and which  all political parties must be committed to deliver .We quote  the late Mr.R.K.A Gardiner from his  1965 lecture  as we did  in the last column(August 17,2012) because  he insights in Ghana’s problems are as relevant  today as they  were then .He said ‘’We cannot  expect  a nation half-well-to-do, half  miserably poor, half educated and half unskilled and unlettered, to enjoy stable, social and political conditions’’
Access and quality education should be what the directive principles of state policy implied in the 1992 constitution .They should be the way forward! Total information has be available about budgeted funds and their flow from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to the district assemblies and the schools to ensure accountability from public officers. This  is what a Freedom of information  Act should provide!
  

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