SQAD concludes weeklong sensitization on new school monitoring programme

The Standard and Quality Assurance Directorate (SQAD), Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, (MoBSE), on Wednesday 7th December 2011, concluded a week-long sensitization on a new monitoring strategy on school performance. The newly rolled out program known as the Participatory Performance Monitoring (PPM), emphasizes the benefits of community involvement in education and outlines how this approach can help improve the academic performance of Gambian students.

It enables local communities to play an active role in their children’s education by involving them in the monitoring and evaluation of their local school performance. This scheme has been experimented in Ghana and Uganda and has been proven to be very successful in improving the standard of schools in those countries.

There is every reason to believe that it will be successful in The Gambia too. Senior officials of MoBSE have revealed optimism in the new approach to school monitoring. Mr. Baboucarr Bouy, Permanent Secretary, MoBSE, revealed his buoyancy when he said: “It is vital that The Gambia improves exam performance of students attending schools if we are to produce literate, numerate and productive members of the community. Our children are our greatest resource and we all have a part to play in their future. PPM is one of the means by which we can get involved and take responsibility for the performance of our children as they make their way in the world.

The PPM scheme will facilitate communities including charities, NGO’s, business people and local entrepreneurs as well as the parents, teachers, and even the students’ themselves to play a meaningful role in the progressive development of their school.

PPM is the final component of the Monitoring process; SQAD and the regional offices carry out external monitoring. The schools should have a comprehensive internal monitoring system and now the community plays its part in community monitoring through the PPM. Improving the academic performance of students is a key to MoBSE. Research has shown that parental and community involvement in monitoring of schools can contribute to improved student performance.

The sensitization was meant to make communities aware of the performance of their schools and PPM is one way of ensuring that this happens. Through the implementation of PPM, Gambian schools can also encourage communities to take ownership of their schools in order to support them achieve better things. Under the PPM, MoBSE has developed a “Community Score Card.” The score card will collect academic performance date for every school in Lower Basic, Upper Basic and Basic Cycle levels.

Schools which are Government funded and grant-aided will be expected to hold an annual meeting for the community at which this score card will be available and discussed by the community. The score card will reveal academic performance for all the students in all subjects at Grade 3 and 5 will eventually include Grade 8 NAT results. Not only will the community be able to see the results of the school, but will also be able to see how the school compares in performance nationwide.

Mr. Omar Jatta, Director, SQAD, said this scheme will allow all those with an interest in developing the performance of their schools to have a central role in measuring the schools academic results. “By properly appraising schools’ performance each local community and stakeholder will be able to assess the status of the school and help to formulate ways of addressing schools which may require remedial action.”

The score card will be made available to every school and the school is expected to hold a meeting called the School Performance Monitoring Meeting (SPMM). The School Management Committee chairperson and the Chair of the Community Participation Committee will take an active part in encouraging the community to attend as well as chairing the meeting on an annual basis.

For Mrs. Fatou Jobe Cham, Head Teacher, Latirkunda Lower Basic School, observed that the “information on the Community Score Card will enable a debate to take place about how the community can help the school improve its performance or maintain an already good performance.”

She adds that this “might take the form of ensuring students come to school on time and regularly or that children can be enabled to do homework by parents not over-burdening them with domestic chores.” She noted that it might mean that the head teacher has to rethink how a particular subject is taught and by whom. It may mean that the community has to help with resources. “In any event this involvement will mean that the head teacher will have to think about school development and planning and what the priorities for the school are and will have to listen to the community and help set future targets for performance,” she concluded.


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