articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning

Teachers Forum
October, 2001

Life as a School Inspector

Lukole Refugee Camp
Western Tanzania

An interview with

Cassilde has a message for inspectors in refugee camps wherever they may be:

Dear inspectors,

I want to share my vision in respect to your task as instructors in term of inspection. We are all aware of the dreadful situations in which we live. I seize this opportunity to encourage/convince you by means of this message. Our work must be perceived as that of teachers and educational leaders working with absolute collaboration not by constraint. We must take the lead to create situations that improve the school's work condition as a result of the teachers' good disposition, and collaboration.

I must also emphasize the importance in a class visit of meeting with the head teacher. It helps to convey directly to those concerned the positive and negative observations, advice and suggestions necessary to help us improve the work.

I want to remind you that education is essential - takes first place - in time of crisis. The kids are the future of our country, and we need to know that the future will be a reflect of what is done now.


Bacanamwo Cassilde

Question: When did work begin in the Lukole Camp?

Answer: Education work with children began in the Lukole camp in 1994. Later as more Burundi refugees came to the camp more schools were created. By April 2001 we had 13 primary schools with over 24,000 students and 305 staff, including one education co-ordinator, two assistant co-ordinators, six inspectors, four trainees, thirteen principals, thirteen assistant principals and 266 teachers of which 81 are qualified and 185 are unqualified. There are a small number of Rwandese and they have their own school.

Q: How are education personnel recruited in the camps?

A: In the beginning a refugee would present a teachers' college diploma to become a teacher. Those who have only student achievement letters and certificates of study or those who have nothing, are interviewed and some chosen by those in the administration.

Q: What are the practicalities of being a school inspector at Camp Lukoli?

A: Inspectors are called to collaborate with teachers and principals to ensure school regulations are carried out, curriculum programmes are followed, teaching methods applied and adequate supplies are provided. Inspectors tasks are threefold and involve teaching, administration and examinations development and analysis.

Q: How do inspectors work to improve teaching?

A: At the end of each year, the inspectors get together to work out the plan of action for the following year. The plan elaborates priorities and acute problems already observed in classrooms, the criteria for choosing classes to visit and on which problems to focus depends on:

  1. The programme and its state of development (new programmes, degrees of concern about the programme, the programmes where teachers feel undertrained, courses where students perform poorly, those where difficulties are known and remedies can be given.)
  2. The quality of the teachers
  3. The students
  4. Student test and examination results.

Inspection activities are organised in the mornings and administrative activities are organised in the afternoons. During this time inspectors review materials from students, teachers and principals, the statistics of the school and a review of school supplies.

At the end of each month tests are organised for all schools, and then again at the end of each trimester. Special tests are also organised for grade six students who are finishing primary school. We analyse the results of each school, class and grade and this gives us an idea about the issues facing schools and how we can find solutions to these problems.

Cassilde using a banana skin slate

Q: What happens when an inspector makes a school visit?

A: A class visit involves four steps:

  1. A broad overview which includes an understanding of the locale, the organisation of the room and the displays, the discipline and disposition of the students, and the tenor set by the teacher.
  2. Detailed observations which include a review of the lesson's objectives and whether they've been fulfilled, the continuity of the lesson, the use of teaching materials and methods, the classroom climate, whether children have understood the lesson and the students' and the teacher's books.
  3. Review of the lesson with the teacher including comments on positive aspects of the experience and issues which need to be addressed: all of which is provided in a written note.
  4. It is the right time to also speak to the head teacher, since this person is the most important person to help teachers focus on feedback that might help to improve their work. Thus, the inspection's outcome will be more fruitful.

Q: How do you observe administrative activities?

A: Inspectors observe and inspect all aspects of documentation.

  1. Most common is the inspection of the documents of the Director and/or the Teachers to verify existence and handling.
  2. Maintenance of Material
  3. - condition of school materials and buildings
    - hygiene in school and of its surroundings
    - need for further construction and innovation.

  4. Collection of data in the school related to
  5. - rigour and punctuality of the personnel
    - school populations

Q: What problems are encountered in camp schools?


  1. The camp is in a difficult condition. Food rations are very low. Many students do not show up for school or abandon school to go to surrounding villages in search of food. Boys start working or become streets vendors. Girls are kept at home to care for the house when their parents go out to look for work or they are given away in early marriage because of alarming poverty. The student success rate has tremendously decreased due to frequent absences.
  2. Teachers have not been motivated adequately: they receive meagre salaries and more than many times they are subject to illnesses due to overwork and malnutrition.
  3. Teachers are very tired because they work twice as long as they should (working two shifts) thus do not have enough time to prepare learning materials.

Would you like to read other interviews with practising teachers?

Teacher Talking Explore Ideas · Discuss Issues · Take Action
Last revised October 1, 2001
Copyright © UNICEF