BRIEF ON SACMEQ PROGRAMME 1.0 Introduction The Southern Africa by JamieGribowicz

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									                           BRIEF ON SACMEQ PROGRAMME


1.0      Introduction

The Southern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ) is a long
term initiative aimed at continuous assessment and monitoring of education quality
and learning achievement at various levels of the education system. The programme is
aimed at making informed policy suggestions towards improving the provision of
quality education. It gives cognizance to the fact that continuous evaluation of the
school system is a major determinant for internal efficiencies and effectiveness in any
education system. It is also in line with the Dakar Framework for Action commitments
and the Millennium goals on providing basic quality primary Education For All
supported by comprehensive policy research, monitoring and information
dissemination.

The research activities are aimed at:

§     Assessing learning achievement (including life skills) and factors affecting learning
      achievement for children at specific level of education.
§     Collection of data and information for assessment of the condition of schooling and
      how they compare with the Ministry’s benchmark standards, and to inform policy
      and education planning.
§     Capacity building in monitoring, evaluation and comparing the general conditions
      of schooling and the quality of education at various levels.
§     Determining the relative effects of educational inputs that have significant impact
      on learning achievement and establishing their level of distribution (including
      textbooks and teaching resources).

The first phase of SACMEQ survey which focused on reading achievement took place
in 1998 and the policy research report has been published for subsequent dissemination.
The second phase focused on reading and numeracy. Data collection was carried out
during the year 2000 while data analysis and report preparation are to be completed in
August, 2003. The envisaged SACMEQ III project is to capture reading, numeracy and
science achievements.

SACMEQ I educational, policy research attempted to address the following policy
issues related to educational inputs:

§     The characteristics of standard 6 pupils: age, absenteeism, repetition, homework,
      gender.
§     The characteristics of standard 6 teachers: age, sex, teaching experience, training.
§     The teaching conditions in primary schools: availability and use of teaching
      materials and classroom furniture, pupils textbooks and other teaching learning
      materials e.g. pens, pencils, rubber, ruler.
§     Whether the teaching functions designed to improve the quality of education were
      in place (frequency of testing, meeting with parents, inspection, teacher motivation
      and satisfaction)
§     The general condition of school buildings: repair status, classroom space, toilet
      provision, general school facilities.
§     Level of access: did pupils have books? classroom and school library, borrowing
      books.
§     Equity issues in resource distribution such as physical facilities and teacher
      distribution by profession and qualification among the provinces and within
      schools.

Important factors influencing teacher motivation and satisfaction:

§     Level of teacher salary.
§     Quality of school management and administration.
§     Pupils achievement and performance.

2.0      Summary of policy suggestions emanating from SACMEQ I Research Survey

The policy suggestions were subdivided into five areas inter alia consultations with
staff, communities and experts; reviews of existing planning and policy procedures,
data collection for planning purposes, education policy research projects and
investment in infrastructure and human resources.

2.1      Consultations with Staff, Communities and Experts

§     The Ministry through the North Eastern Provincial Education Office to work out
      strategies towards improving school participation while laying emphasis on the girl
      child.
§     The importance of teachers meeting with parents should be supported at all levels of
      education.
§     The Ministry should update and publish comprehensive benchmarks for
      educational environment that are deemed to be reasonable for the proper
      functioning of primary schools.

2.2      Reviews of Existing Planning and Policy Procedures

§     There is need to sensitize communities from pastoral regions and other areas where
      economic and social conditions hinder conformity to the norm of six years school
      entry age on the importance of education and taking children to school at the


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      appropriate age The government to give greater recognition and support to the
      importance of adult education programmes, especially in rural areas.
§     The Ministry should institute an investigation in all provinces except Nairobi and
      Central in order to establish why the amount of homework being given is minimal.
§     The Ministry and provincial offices of education should ensure a more balanced
      distribution of female and male teachers in primary schools.
§     The Teachers Service Commission should attempt to equalize the years of
      experience of teachers across provinces when allocating new teachers or transferring
      experienced teachers.
§     Teachers in-service training programmes should be supported and institutionalized
      with a view to enhancing teacher professional development.
§     The Ministry, through the Inspectorate and relevant departments to ensure effective
      utilization of textbooks and other readers supplied to schools through various
      projects.
§     The Ministry to establish a special unit within the inspectorate, specifically charged
      with the responsibility of establishing and monitoring ( to ensure compliance) norms
      and standards at various levels of education.
§     In areas where enrolments were very low and class sizes very small, the Ministry
      was to consider introducing and supporting multi-grade teaching through training
      teachers in this mode of delivery.
§     Communities in North Eastern province should be encouraged to start shift systems
      in the lower sections of primary schools in order to ease classroom congestion in
      some schools.
§     Establishment of a benchmark on the number of in-service courses that teachers
      should be given and ensuring that such courses are delivered on a regular and
      equitable basis.
§     The Ministry was to undertake an immediate review on the inequitable allocation of
      classroom furniture, toilets and school resources across provinces in the country
      with a view to introducing a policy of positive discrimination in favour of poorly
      resourced provinces.


2.3      Data Collection for Planning Purposes

§     The Ministry was to undertake follow-up survey of the same target population
      employed during SACMEQ in order to examine changes in important educational
      indicators over time.
§     The Ministry should analyze available data and information and undertake any
      additional research required to establish the causes of gender imbalances in pupil
      enrolments in upper-primary classes.
§     A more specific survey should be carried out to determine the main causes of
      learner absenteeism and design measures to curb the same.



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§     The Ministry to undertake national primary school census to ascertain the levels of
      teaching materials and classroom furniture and then set strategies to ensure
      equitable distribution of these resources to all schools. This policy suggestion will be
      achieved through the planned school mapping.

Other areas that require urgent national survey include:

§     Provision of basic supplies such as readers and other important learning materials,
      writing and sitting places.
§     Condition of school buildings, school toilet facilities, school equipment, etc.
§     The Ministry, through the annual school census to identify classes in schools where
      there are more than 50 pupils and then take the required measures to ensure that
      pupils are not in overcrowded classrooms. Appropriate intervention measures were
      also to be put in place in order to ensure an appropriate pupil teacher ratio.

2.4       Educational Policy Research Projects

§     The Ministry should undertake further detailed studies in the following areas:

      o   Extra tuition
      o   Grade repetition
      o   Curriculum
      o   Why reading skills in standard 6 are generally poor in comparison with the
          “minimum and desirable” performance standards set down by the Kenya
          reading specialists.

§     The Ministry should design and implement a continuous system for monitoring
      learning achievement levels in schools.

2.5 Investment in Infrastructure and Human Resources

§     The Ministry should strengthen out-of-school programmes as a complementary
      measure towards providing education opportunities to those children out of the
      formal education system.
§     Given that the availability of reading books is pertinent in reading achievement,
      access to books either through school or mobile libraries should be encouraged.
§     The school feeding programme should be made sustainable through measures such
      as encouraging income-generating activities and supporting interventions from
      NGOs, religious and community based organizations.
§     The cost-sharing policy, which required parents to meet the cost of physical facilities
      and infrastructure, needed to be reviewed with a view to having the government
      provide such facilities especially in areas of high poverty incidence.




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3.0       Overview on SACMEQ II findings

SACMEQ provides important baseline data for assessing and monitoring the impact of
recent major policy reforms in primary education in terms of quality and learning
achievements.

Some of the study variables and issues analyzed in SACMEQ II include:

      •   Education inputs: teaching learning materials, human resources
      •   Pupils characteristics and their learning environment
      •   Headteachers’ characteristics, educational infrastructure, the organization and
          operation of schools, and problems with pupils and staff
      •   Teachers’ characteristics: Teaching, classroom resources, professional support,
          and job satisfaction
      •   Equity in the allocation of human and material resources/ Physical facilities
          among provinces and among schools within provinces
      •   Education outcome: The Reading and Mathematics Achievement Levels
          of pupils and their teachers

4.0       The Impact of SACMEQ on Educational Policy and Practice in Kenya

Review of the impact of SACMEQ policy research indicate that most of the SACMEQ I
policy recommendations are being addressed within the Free Primary Education
Programme. However critical issues on quality inputs including physical facilities, their
financial implications and the expected outcome in terms of learning achievement
require further support.

A summary of policy responses follows:

§     The government, through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s Non
      Formal Education (NFE) Programme has put in place alternative mechanisms as a
      way of providing education opportunities to overage children who have missed a
      chance to join the formal education system in pastoral areas.

§     The Kenya Institute of Education is continuously involved in the review and
      rationalization of the curriculum with a view to making it affordable and ensuring
      quality and relevance. Currently, the number of primary schools taught and
      examinable subjects were reduced from thirteen to seven and seven to five
      respectively.

§     The government in collaboration with other key stakeholders and development
      partners is involved in a School Based Teacher Development Programme and
      provision of textbooks to all public primary schools. The planned SACMEQ III


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    would contribute towards assessing the impact of these inputs on learning
    achievement.

§   The findings of SACMEQ I were utilized during the Provincial/District Education
    for All (EFA) consultative meetings which brought together all stakeholders in the
    provision of education at the provincial and districts levels. Specifically, the
    findings on gender, regional disparities internal inefficiencies, etc. were issues of
    focus during the discussion and will ultimately form the basis for the District,
    Provincial and National EFA action plans.

§   Similarly, the Education Sector and Public Expenditure Reviews borrowed from the
    findings of SACMEQ with a view to making proposals aimed at addressing the
    weaknesses highlighted in the report.

§   One chapter in the Kenya SACMEQ I national report compared the reality of
    educational provision in Kenya’s schools with generally agreed sub-regional
    benchmark figures. This exercise highlighted the absence of a comprehensive and
    up-to-date list of standards for Kenya’s schools. The gaps in official standards were
    especially notable with respect to the kinds of teaching materials and classroom
    furniture that are essential for the creation of an effective learning environment.

§   One of the most surprising research findings arising from the SACMEQ I project in
    Kenya was the substantial contrast between the poor performance of students on the
    examinations. This contrast caused questions to be raised at the highest levels
    within the Ministry concerning the validity of the “pass mark” established for
    national examinations. It should be noted here that the mastery cut-off points
    calculated for the SACMEQ I study in Kenya were based upon (a) a selection of test
    questions designated by the Kenya curriculum experts as central to the reading
    curriculum, and (b) two reading literacy mastery levels (“minimal performance” and
    “desirable performance”) that were specified by experienced Kenyan teachers and
    reading specialists before they had seen the test results. Some critical comments
    have also been made about the differences in regional rankings on examinations and
    the regional rankings on literacy levels obtained from the SACMEQ I project.

§   The surveys recommended that the Ministry should design and implement a
    continuous system for monitoring literacy and numeracy levels among other skills
    attained in primary schools which should feature a detailed analysis of sub-groups
    of students broken down by variables such as district, gender, socio-economic level,
    and school location. The planned learning achievement survey could address this
    issue.

§   An important impact of the SACMEQ research programme in Kenya has been a new
    awareness in the Ministry for the need to make major improvements in the


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    systematic collection of data. In particular the Ministry has reviewed several of its
    annual data collections in order to update data collection methods. Of particular
    note here has been an acknowledgement of the need to employ relevant data entry
    and data cleaning procedures to improve the accuracy and consistency of the
    databases used for planning purposes.

§   SACMEQ provides baseline information in developing indicators for monitoring
    education quality and learning achievement in Free Primary Education Programme.
    These indicators will be included in the EMIS and Statistical publications.

5.0 Recent and upcoming Activities

    §   Within the Education Management and Information Systems framework, the
        SACMEQ surveys will provide the major indicators for assessing and monitoring
        the quality of education and learning achievement at target level of education.
    §   The surveys alongside other available relevant data and information provide
        baseline information in establishing the impact of recent policy initiatives
        including the Free Primary Education, teacher in-servicing and provision of
        teaching leaning materials, on the quality of education.
    §   SACMEQ III is planned for the year 2005/6 and will go along way in achieving
        this objective.
    §   To build internal capacity on design and analysis, a technical working group
        constituting of officers from relevant departments namely, Planning, KIE,
        Primary Division, Teacher education, KNEC, Inspectorate, Policy Formulation
        and Projects have been involved in the SACMEQ I and II policy research and
        analysis.
    §    SACMEQ Ministers’ Conference was held on 28th September 2003 in Paris, just
        before the UNESCO Bi-Annual Conference. The conference provided a forum
        for launching the SACMEQ I and II Data Archive.
    §   SACMEQ I Policy Report available on the UNESCO.IIEP Website. SACMEQ II
        Policy Report at Editorial stage..
    §   Regional SACMEQ I and II Data Archive Dissemination Workshops
        scheduled for 28th and 29 June, 2004 in Nairobi Kenya and 1st – 2nd July, 2004 in
        Pretoria, South Africa.




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