2001 YEM: Community Schools Project in Hodeidah, Ibb and Abyan Supervision Evaluation
Author: Allardyce, E.
UNICEF has been supporting Community Schools in selected districts of Hodeidah over the past six to seven years, and has expanded to some districts in Ibb and Abyan governorates. The Community Schools Project was developed to encourage more girls to enroll in schools close to their home and, at the same time, ensure that education of adequate quality is provided to all children. The concept of school supervision is an integral part of the project, to provide schoolteachers with guidance and the support they require in teaching and in enabling children to learn. Support to the supervisors is given through training and transport allowance for their supervisory visits.
Purpose / Objective
The aim of the evaluation is to determine the effectiveness of this model of support in improving the quality of education and establish what is realistic in the future, in terms of the resources available within each governorate. What improvements can be made to give schools the best support to raise standards of achievement?
Interviews were held with UNICEF officers in 3 project locations, Ministry of Education officials, Governorate and District officials in addition to teachers, head teachers and supervisors. 23 classroom observations were made, each one lasting at least 35 minutes. Supervisors' training session for female teachers was also observed. Various documents were collected and reviewed, including teachers' curriculum plans.
Key Findings and Conclusions
Before the district supervisors embarked on the work of providing advice and support to schools, UNICEF organized two one-week courses that gave a comprehensive overview of the different aspects of the supervisor's role. Many useful handouts were made available, including a form and criteria for making judgments when undertaking classroom observation. All supervisors enjoyed taking part in the training but expressed a need for further professional development.
Generally, all supervisors need further training on making specific professional judgments on the standards children are achieving and the quality of teaching and learning. They need to be able to give constructive, practical and specific advice on how standards can be improved. Currently, the advice given is too vague. Teachers are looking for practical inspiration from the supervisors.
During the UNICEF-supported training, the supervisors were given an observation form that they have adapted for use during school visits. This is not proving to be a useful tool, either to gather data about the quality of teaching or as a basis for feedback to teachers. The number of different points and their complexity, combined with the requirement to judge each point on a scale of 1 - 4, leads to superficial judgments that are not being supported by evidence. From scrutiny of reports, some supervisors are judging a mark of 35 good while others considering this poor.
The Ministry sets out a requirement for supervisors to make 4 visits to each school per year. This is an unrealistic target for the resources available. The focus of each visit is set out and is structured in such a way that it does not provide opportunities for the supervisors to work in a developmental way with schools. The main thrust is on monitoring. School improvement cannot be achieved over a short period, therefore, it is necessary for supervisors to be able to set out a long-term development plan in collaboration with the head teacher. This is not happening systematically within the Ministry or UNICEF models.
The main role of the UNICEF-supported supervisors is to work developmentally with schools to improve the quality of education. The funding for extra visits to schools allows the supervisor to take time to identify the school's strengths and weaknesses and can then work in an incremental way to improve the situation. In Hodeidah, where the project has been running for some years, there is evidence that the supervisors have been able to make a difference. This is still not the case in Ibb and Abyan, where the project started in September 2000. During this evaluation, it was not possible to produce evidence that the increased number of visits is making a difference.
The majority of head teachers are pleased to have support from supervisors. However, some do not feel able to work in partnership with the supervisor to plan a program of support for teachers. The sample of school visits in this evaluation is very small to make sound judgments, but concern was expressed that in Ibb and Abyan, the support for supervisors had declined over the last few years. This is leading some conscientious head teachers to look for support outside the supervision system.
There is not sufficient evidence to make detailed judgments on the quality of training provided by the UNICEF-supported supervisors. Teachers do welcome the opportunity to meet, share ideas and receive some input from the supervisors. The supervisors in Hodeidah are fortunate to have a centre to organize these meetings. The meetings are well attended.
There is evidence that supervisors have good relationships with the schools they support. In some instances, they had been working with the school for many years and are considered an important part of the school. In the best situations, the head teacher and the supervisor work in partnership, setting targets for teachers.
The management of supervisors, in all situations, is lax. There is no appraisal system in place. Supervisors are told to make a set number of visits to a set number of schools but what they do in the school is an open situation. Some supervisors find it very difficult to find a realistic focus for development. There are also no expectations as to what they should aim to achieve each year. It is very easy for the supervisor not to challenge the school.
Regarding the quality of teaching observed from the teachers in classrooms, 52% of lessons were judged to be satisfactory or good. No lessons were judged as very good. 30% were unsatisfactory and 18% poor. All teachers observed were using the new textbooks and making every effort to cover the content, in spite of late delivery in some schools. The range of teaching strategies and their effectiveness is a concern in all but the good lessons. Group work where children worked together collaboratively to solve a problem was not seen. Where children were involved in an activity, this was one child doing something while the others watched. In most situations, it was the teacher who demonstrated while the children watched. Teachers are not evaluating the success of each lesson and making notes on changes they will make the following year.
A model for supervision needs to be developed that is effective in improving the quality of teaching and learning, and is sustainable within resources available. Supervisors are inconsistent when making judgments about the quality of education. The main reason for this is that they do not have nationally agreed criteria to use when making these judgments. It is important that criteria are set out in a practical way and are jargon free.
Future advice and support given by the UNICEF-supported supervisors should be linked to the introduction of the new curriculum 1 - 6. Supervisors need to spend time in classrooms trialing materials to support lessons that teachers are finding difficult.
Supervisors' time is limited and the demands for improvement in the education system are great. It is important to find a way of prioritizing support to schools where improvement is possible and needed. The district supervisors are in an excellent position to focus their work on school improvement, working in partnership with the head teacher.
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