Education institutions cannot run without effective monitoring. It is the cornerstone to ensure the operations are running as planned. It helps create an official mechanism to inspect standards of teaching and learning. In the context of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa education, visits of officials to public schools existed without a framework before.
In the absence of sound planning and management, collected data hardly justifies the effort and is unfit for use in emergencies and decision making. This neglect was apparent till recently. For 2015-16, the monthly average for percentage of schools visited by education officials was 29 percent. In 2016-17, it was 30 percent, primarily because the education officers did not know what to do while visiting these schools.
School Quality Management Initiative is comprehensively and regularly evaluating the quality of education in the public sector schools of KP and the impacts of this initiative can be seen in the improvement of teaching and learning processes across the province
Operationalising Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) in 2014 was a big step in fixing the education sector by deploying a sound system to monitor the provision of basic facilities, teaching staff and student participation rates and infrastructure-based indicators. Independent Monitoring Unit collected data on mostly quantitative indicators, playing a major role in decreasing teacher absenteeism in schools. However, such a system side-lined quality indicators that reflect the state of teaching and learning.
Quality is assessed on an annual basis by the Provincial Education Assessment Centre (PEAC) and Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) through the mandated teacher and student assessments. However, these are summative assessments, and their results are not readily available to the teachers and children in the schools. This pressed on the need for more frequent monitoring of the quality parameters at the school level which can allow for timely remedial actions in ways that cannot be done by yearly summative assessments.
The role of the directorate to inspect the quality of teaching and learning processes in schools was revamped through School Quality Management Initiative (SQMI) to make it more practical, useful, cost-effective and sustainable. The objectives were to monitor the quality of teaching and learning with a view to regularly identify needs for improvement in the quality of teaching practice, provide regular and timely feedback to teachers and head teachers for remedial actions and to empower the ASDEOs to conduct effective inspections and collect useful data.
To be effectively precise, the scope of SQMI was narrowed to three central indicators for inspecting the teaching and learning processes: classroom observation, syllabus pacing and student sample assessments.
Operationalising Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) in 2014 was a big step in fixing the education sector by deploying a sound system to monitor the provision of basic facilities, teaching staff and student participation rates and infrastructure-based indicators. Independent Monitoring Unit collected data on mostly quantitative indicators, playing a major role in decreasing teacher absenteeism in schools
Classroom observation requires the officer to look at appropriate teaching practices as defined in the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme and make evaluations according to instruments developed as part of CPD. Reviewing teachers’ allocation of time to each topic within the curriculum allows for negating practices that summate into teaching for the test other than teaching for understanding. Student sample assessments review the quality of student learning.
Elementary and Secondary Education Department (E&SED) allocated Rs 80 million for the year 2017-18 for activities under the SQMI. The plan is to visit each focused school twice in an academic year, collect data employing state of the art tools, train officers on the use of such advanced instruments and feed data in a School Improvement Framework (SIF).
The SIF will, in turn, be used to generate district and school ranking on selected indicators. Feeding results of data analysis to produce summaries that guide policymakers and provide recommendations for practitioners to improve the quality of educational provision.
SQMI fills in the gap for a much-needed education management information system. It will improve the quality of inspection at school level, standardise teaching-learning process according to Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and curriculum pacing, rank schools on the basis of standards at provincial level in the School Improvement Framework (SIF) and provide feedback to teachers and head teachers for quality management, supervision, assessment and learning environments. SQMI is comprehensively and regularly evaluating the quality of education in public sector schools of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and impacts of this initiative can be seen in the improvement of teaching and learning processes all over the province.
The writer is a Public Policy Researcher currently working on election behaviours
Published in Daily Times, March 6th 2018.