SOM 1999/800: Survey of Primary Schools in Somalia, 1999
As a follow up to the 1997 primary school survey report (UNICEF Somalia, 1997), this report is an analysis of data collected from primary schools from November-December 1998 (North West and North East zones) and April-June 1999 (Central and Southern zones). The document is a further step in the processes of creating an education management information system (EMIS) to fill the gap identified in the introduction to the earlier survey.
Purpose / Objective
The aim of the survey was to get a better picture of the situation related to primary education and primary schools for better planning for the development of the sub-sector in Somalia. The survey had the following specific objectives:
- To provide a yardstick for assessing and evaluating developments in primary education since the publication of the 1997 survey report.
- To provide the latest data on key aspects of primary education for use by organs involved in the provision and delivery of education (e.g. external agencies, governance bodies, community education committees, civil society, households, teachers, scholars and consultants).
- To take further the development of an EMIS for Somalia by collecting and analysing data on a questionnaire that improves the 1997 version.
As in 1997, the exercise was carried out as an institutional survey, with the primary school serving as the basic unit. The approach used was a visit to all primary schools throughout Somalia, including those that had been closed for a shorter or longer period. Schools were identified on the basis of information (a) in the 1997 survey report; (b) obtained from records of external agencies working in Somalia (e.g. UNICEF and other UN agency offices, and international NGOs), national NGOs, regional and district education authorities where present, communities and teachers.
The 1997 survey questionnaire was modified to a more focussed and detailed data collection instrument. Additions to the questionnaire included items aimed at the collection of data on school-term dates, parents' meetings, staff meetings, organisation of shifts, record keeping in schools, and number of physical facilities (materials used in constructing school buildings, numbers of classrooms and latrines for both boys and girls, and sources of water), household expenditures on primary education and teacher material incentives.
Key Findings and Conclusions
A total of 651 primary schools were identified. However, for a number of reasons, 54 (8%) were reported closed at the time of the interview. Communities owned 43% of schools. Other owners were local authorities (30%); combination of community, local authorities and NGOs (13%); and private entrepreneurs (14%). Communities were reported to be the managers of 34% of schools. NGOs (international and local) managed 19% of schools. The other managing parties were local authorities (15%), Ministry of Education and Youth in the North West zone (13%), combination of community and NGOs (10%) and private entrepreneurs (7%).
Community Education Committees (CDCs) had been set up in 91% of schools for the purpose of undertaking management tasks. About a fifth (18%) of CEC members were women. Three quarters of members were parents while nearly a quarter (24%) were teachers; the proportion of "other" members was negligible. Although there were variations across zones, the tasks carried out by CECs in more than half of the schools were problem solving (94%), community mobilisation (84%) and monitoring of learning (72%). Resource mobilisation was undertaken in slightly more than two-fifths (42%) of schools while only a quarter of CECs were involved in general school management. Most CECs continued to count a limited number of the tasks that they are supposed to undertake.
Somalia was characterised by small schools. The average school size was 228 pupils while the average number of classes per school was 6.3 (6.2 for grades 1-4 and 1.2 for grades 5-8). The enrolment in Somali primary schools was reported to be 148,015 children. Slightly more than half (53%) of the children were enrolled in schools in the central and southern zones, 32% in North West zone schools and 15% in North East zone schools. Almost a third (30%) of children were enrolled in Mogadishu schools. About a tenth (9%) of pupils were enrolled in schools owned by private entrepreneurs. Slightly more than a third (35%) of pupils were girls. Gender disparity increased rapidly with higher grades: while 40% of children in grade 1 were girls, the proportion of girls in grade 4 with 34%, and still lower in grade 8 with 29%. About four-fifths (81%) of all pupils were in lower school (grades 1-4), while about a fifth (19%) were in upper primary school (grades 5-8). A gross enrolment ratio of 9.0% (male=11.8; female=6.3) was estimated for the whole of Somalia.
Slightly over three fifths (62%) of schools practised subject-teaching i.e. a class is taught different subjects by different teachers). Class teaching (all subjects are taught by one class teacher) was practised in 9% of schools. The rest of the schools (29%) used a combination of subject and class teaching. The Somali national curriculum, i.e. the pre-1991 school curriculum, was in use in 56% of schools while in another 29%, it was being used together with "other curricula" adopted from outside Somalia. 15% of schools were entirely using "other curricula". Proportions of schools adopting "other curricula" from elsewhere were 76% from Middle East countries, 19% from Western countries and 5% from Kenya.
Although 84% of schools indicated that the headteacher maintained a record-keeping system, the situation appeared to be unsatisfactory. The most common type of record keeping was pupils' enrolment and attendance (54% of schools). Only 1% kept financial account records, and 13% had records of equipment and materials. No schools reported keeping records on pupils' academic progress or minutes of meetings of staff, CECs or parents.
There were 5,310 teachers (19% with university degrees, 40% with pre-service training received prior to 1991, 23% with in-service training received after 1991 and 18% untrained). There were indications that teachers in the untrained and in-service categories fell short of the minimum academic and pedagogical accomplishments necessary for effective teaching. There were 784 (15%) female teachers. The gender imbalance was greater among headteachers: only 4% were women. The average pupils per teacher ratio was 28, while the teacher per class ratio was 1.31, with a pupils per class ratio of 36.
Most schools (71%) reported having permanent buildings (concrete entirely). 23% had traditional thatched structures, and 4% a mixture of "concrete and thatched". Only 2% reported to have no structures, i.e. school is held under a tree or some other open space. The average number of classrooms per school was 6. Overall, there were more classes than classrooms, with a ratio of classes to classrooms of 1:11. The provision of latrines was grossly inadequate. 49% of schools indicated that they had no latrines. The average number of latrines per school was 1 and only less than a third (29%) of schools had 3 or more latrines. 41% of schools reported having sources of water within the school compound. Of these, 16% had tap water. Of the 59% whose sources were outside the school compound, only 6% had tap water.
Fees paid by parents constitute the most important household contribution to primary education. However, 38% of schools did not ask parents to pay fees. For the rest of the schools, the amounts paid per pupil per month were: less than US$ 1 (30% of schools); $1-3 (29%); and more than $3 (3%). There were wide zonal variations, with households in the North West and North East zones paying more than was the case in the central and southern zones. Out of 65l schools, 417 (64%) indicated that they received support (unspecified) from UNICEF.
The survey indicated that the material incentives given to teachers were inadequate. Twenty eight percent of schools indicated that their teachers received no cash support and only in 17% of schools did each teacher receive a monthly cash incentive of more than US $50 (as compared to the indicative average monthly salary of $55).
Out of 651 schools, 223 (34%) indicated that, in addition to the regular school programme, they operated other basic educational activities. The frequency of such activities was: one activity only (79% of schools); two activities (17%); and three activities (4%). The types of "other activity" by proportion of schools were: adult education / vocational training (69% of schools); youth activities (13%); early childhood development (7%); and other (11 %).
Although both the CEC and the body of parents were reported as being involved in school management, data delineating the roles of the two organs were not collected. Equally important, schools were not required to indicate how members of the CECs were chosen. The following measures are recommended:
- the composition and functions of the CEC (including methods of choosing members and tenure) should be spelled out in written regulations
- the CEC should be made accountable to the parents, e.g. parents should elect their representatives to the CEC and the committee should report, in writing, to the parents at regular intervals (preferably once per term)
- in addition to making their input through general meetings, consideration should be given to setting up an executive committee of parents' and teachers' association
- the residual powers (as opposed to those of the CEC ) of parents as a management organ should be spelled out
Access and persistence could be increased by resorting to a satellite school system, in which a large number of small-size schools only offer up to 3 or 4 grades of lower primary, followed by automatic transfer of the pupils to large-size schools for the rest of the primary course. The primary school system is overstaffed. There is need to investigate the factors underlying the discrepancies in deployment and overstaffing, and to develop interventions aimed at establishing an appropriate balance. No effort should be spared in order to realise the proportion of females in the teaching force.
It is recommended that class teaching should be adopted as the teaching mode in lower primary school (grades 1-4) because it providedsabundant opportunities for the teacher and class to know and trust each other; and for teaching-learning to promote the internalisation of knowledge as a unified whole. Teacher training (both pre-service and in-service) should prepare teachers for this approach.
There is no uniform school calendar for all primary schools in Somalia. Inter alia, this undermines the planning and implementation of educational activities that need to be organised above the school level, such as in-servicing of teachers during school vacations and the development of the conduct of examinations to measure learners' achievement across districts, regions, zones and/or the whole country. There is need to harmonise the school calendar particularly within each zone.
The proliferation of curricula adversely affects effort to ensure that relevance and quality are met. On-going efforts towards re-establishing a national curriculum should be vigorously pursued. The creation of a common testing and certification system would speed up the adoption of one curriculum in all schools.
There is need for all schools to develop systematic record keeping particularly with regard to financial accounting, inventories of equipment and instructional materials, records of pupils' academic progress and management records (e.g. minutes of meetings of staff, CECs and parents). Teacher training and the on-going EMIS initiative should be expanded to cover these areas. Using the EMIS that is being developed, all key access indicators (gender-disaggregated gross and net intake rates,
- net enrolment ratios as well as the GERs, and repetition rates) should be calculated every year
- the factors underlying low enrolments should be systematically articulated through research that is geared to the development of viable interventions
- the donor community should continue to work for the proactive participation of governance organs and communities in the effort to raise enrolments
Bearing in mind the adverse effects on the life of schools and the environmental hazard posed by this situation, it is recommended that urgent action be taken to provide an adequate number of latrines. CECs and parents should be sensitized on the issue, whose solution in most parts of Somalia does not require major capital outlays.
Given that there is research evidence that poor remuneration forces teachers to engage in extra income-generating activities to the detriment of their work as teachers, it is recommended that measures be taken to make it possible for all teachers to be paid a living wage.
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