Final report of the baseline survey for the Quality Enhancement Initiative (QEI) project
Makerere Institute of Social Research, MISR
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Last year, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in partnership with its funding agencies, launched the Quality Enhancement Initiative (QEI) in a bid to enhance the quality of their primary education in the 12 poorly performing districts. The purpose of the baseline survey was to provide key information on selected critical performance indicators to be derived from targeted interventions by MoES to improve the quality of primary education. The selected interventions were under the four pillars namely; i) pupils, ii) teachers, iii) community, and iv) management. It is against this background that the MoES sought the services of Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) to conduct this Baseline Study to gather relevant information that would be used to measure outcomes in the overall and specific objectives of the study. The specific objectives of this study were to: establish teachers’ and pupils’ attendance patterns overtime; establish the pattern of head teachers’ presence in school; ascertain the key factors affecting teachers’ and pupils’ attendance in school and in class; ascertain the number of unit lessons received by pupils; ascertain the amount of pupils’ class work; determine the level of teacher engagement in the learning process; explore feeding arrangements in schools; h) ascertain the number of unit lessons prepared and delivered by teachers; ascertain the level of teachers’ rapport and knowledge on basic information about the class; establish teachers’ academic qualifications and professional profile; determine the level and nature of support teachers receive from the head teacher; establish head teachers’ level of control over teacher attendance and professional diligence; establish head teachers’ familiarity with pupil and teacher attendance patterns in school; examine the teaching and learning environment in school; assess head teachers’ contribution to creation of a learner-friendly school environment; ascertain and document the level of community participation in schools; determine the degree of community awareness of their roles and responsibilities in the delivery of UPE; collect community views on practical options for promoting the health and wellbeing of pupils attending schools; ascertain community capacity to plan, organize and manage school-based social contracts and initiatives; establish the nature, frequency and efficacy of official school inspections; ascertain adequacy and frequency of resource levels from the parent ministry; ascertain the nature and level of administrative backup support given to the school; ascertain the level of pedagogical support given to schools by the CCTs; ascertain the nature, level and impact of political influence on UPE at school level; ascertain support received which is not from the MoES; and establish the Teacher Pupil Ratio. Methodology: This Baseline Survey forms the first phase of a longitudinal study consisting of a panel of 450 UPE schools randomly selected from twelve (12) least performing districts in Uganda. The districts were identified by the Ministry of Education and these are: Nakapiripirit, Kaabong, Oyam, Amuru, Arua, Nebbi, Bududa, Bukedea, Kyenjojo, Bulisa, Lyantonde and Mubende. The study employed a quasi-experimental research design consisting of control and intervention schools. Systematic random sampling of schools was applied to select schools within clusters (study districts and sub-counties). The overall sample size took into consideration the Design Effect resulting from the clustering. The final sample was distributed proportionally across the study districts according to the total number of UPE schools in each district. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection were used. These included: Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with community members, semi-structured interviews with head teachers, teachers, DISs, DEOs, SMC Chairpersons; data extraction forms; and observation guides. Key Findings: School Infrastructure: • Significant progress has been made in improving and expanding school infrastructure. However, the existing infrastructure is still quite inadequate. There is shortage of classroom space particularly for lower primary as evidenced by the high pupil to classroom ratio of 123:1 (in lower primary). • In all districts, the majority of the classrooms have iron roofs (89%) but about 7% of the children still learn under tree shades or in buildings that are unroofed. • While the majority of schools (91%) have an office for the head teacher, few have a staffroom (35%), a library/reading room for pupils (7%) or a store book (43%). Consequently, head teachers’ offices often double as book stores and tree shades as ‘staffrooms’. • Overall, only 36% of the teachers are currently being provided with accommodation in the school staff quarters. • Overall, latrine coverage is fairly adequate with a pupil to latrine stance ratio of about 70:1. However, in Bulisa, pupil to latrine stance ratio is over 120:1. Furthermore, about 16% of the existing toilet facilities are in a very poor physical state. Latrine infrastructure for teachers is also quite inadequate in most schools with female teachers having to share the same toilet facilities with their male counterparts and in worst cases with pupils. Pupil Pillar: • There is a high pupil-teacher ratio (PTR). Overall, PTR is 65:1 and above in a half of the QEI districts, the situation is alarmingly worse in lower classes to the tune of over 100:1. It is particularly high in Bulisa and to a less extent in Kaabong, Kyenjojo, Arua, Amuru, Nebbi and Oyam. In Karamoja region, this situation is aggravated by presence of school going children carrying their siblings to class. • Pupil school attendance rates stand at about 63% with schools in West Nile (Arua and Nebbi) and Karamoja (Kaabong and Nakapiripirit) having the lowest attendance rates. Nakapiripirit registered the poorest pupil attendance rate of only 35%. Involvement of pupils in household chores (especially among girls) appears to be the single most considerable cause of pupil absenteeism; others being illnesses, lack of scholastic materials and lack of lunch at school. Pupil attendance rates were generally lower in the afternoons (by up to 10% in some districts such as Arua and Nebbi) mainly due to lack of school lunch. • Most children lack relevant scholastic materials. Much as it varies across the districts, on average, 70% of children in Northern, West Nile and Eastern Uganda lacked enough exercise books and or something to write with. • The number of unit lessons pupils received in the different examinable subjects during Term 1 of 2009 was found to be very low. Overall, pupils of both lower and upper primary received less than 50% of the expected number of unit lessons in Term 1. Pupils in Kaabong, Nakapiripirit and Nebbi received the least number of unit lessons; less than 30% of the expected unit lessons. • The amount of written class work is quite low. On average, over the entire 9 weeks of Term 1 (2009) that were observed, P3 pupils received a total of 26 pages of written class work in the Mathematics subject (2.9 pages per week), 23 pages in the English subject (2.6 pages per week) and 23 pages in the Reading subject (2.3 pages per week). The situation was not much different among P5 pupils. In Mathematics, P5 pupils received 34 pages of written class work in Mathematics (3.7 pages per week), 30 pages in Science (3.4 pages per week), 28 pages in Social Studies – SST (3.1 pages per week) and 25 pages in English (2.8 pages per week). • While all the study districts were categorized as worst performing, the above table shows that performance in PLE in the sampled schools varied. Table 3.9 shows that in the most recent PLE (2008), performance was generally poor across all QEI districts with only 1% of the pupils passing in Division I. • In almost all communities, there are insufficient feeding arrangements for pupils. According to pupils, 49% do not eat anything during school time. Additionally, with exception of Kyenjojo, Lyantonde and Mubende, over 65% of pupils in other districts revealed that they did not have any thing to eat before going to school. Children from Karamoja depend on food from WFP without which they cannot attend school. Teacher Pillar: • Head teachers in most districts were regularly absent during Term 1, 2009. Overall, about 30% of working days were not spent at school. • Data from the Teachers’ Arrival Book, indicates that teacher school attendance during Term 1 (2009) was 76%. This compares very well with the 77% teacher attendance rate obtained from the three repeated morning visits conducted between April and July 2009. Teacher absenteeism was mainly attributed to poor health. Other causes included involvement in household chores such as cultivation and taking care of sick household members, lack of accommodation, and long maternity leaves for female teachers and late payment of salaries. • The overall, teacher class attendance rate averaged 62%. • At least 95% of the teachers in all districts, except Nebbi, Kaabong and Nakapiripirit, are trained up to Grade III level or higher. However, Kaabong registered the highest percentage (23%) of unqualified teachers. • The number of male teachers in is disproportionately higher than that of female teachers in all the 12 QEI districts. This is more pronounced in Northern Uganda and West Nile particularly in Oyam and Nebbi where the number of male teachers more than triples that of female teachers. There are even some schools such as Apala ‘B’ P.7 School, Amido and Abok, each having over 10 teachers but without a single female teacher. • Less than 30% of teachers in most districts are trained to handle children with disabilities. • Although the academic performance of children is low in all the 12 QEI districts, the majority of teachers (over 80%) reported that they are trained in using learnercentered methods as well utilizing local materials to prepare learning materials. However, classroom observations established that teachers mostly use teachercentered methods. • Teachers teach 5 subjects on average. The highest number of subjects taught by teachers was found in Kyenjojo and Nakapiripirit where the average number of subjects taught by teachers is 6. • Over 70% of teachers do not adequately prepare for lessons. Considering that teachers were expected to have about 45 lesson plans for each of the subjects they teach (for the 9 weeks of Term 1 that were observed), .on average, teachers had less than 20% the expected number of lesson plans. • As was the case with P.3 teachers, the number of assignments given by P.5 teachers was only average. Mathematics teachers gave the highest number of assignments across all study districts. They were closely followed by English teachers. In Mathematics, teachers gave P.5 pupils between 17 and 26 assignments in 9 weeks of teaching. Majority of teachers do not effectively engage pupils in a learning process. This is because over 90% of the teachers used teacher centered approaches such as question and answer method. Over 65% of QEI Baseline Survey by Makerere Institute of Social Research-Makerere University August 2009 5 teachers did not employ methods such as use of songs, stories, role play, group and other techniques known for enhancing teacher- pupil rapport. • Although head teachers are not always present at school, they endeavor to exercise control over teacher attendance and professional diligence whenever they are present at school. For instance, 99% of the teachers interviewed said that head teachers tracked their attendance. This was mainly through use of the arrival book In addition; head teachers usually monitor classes to make sure that teachers are teaching. Regularly absent teachers are normally warned by their respective head teachers. • Head teachers’ views regarding teacher and pupil school attendance are in line with what the latter revealed. For instance, teachers, pupils and head teachers were in agreement that involvement of children in household chores was one of the key reasons why some learners were regularly absent fro school. • Head teachers’ role in creation of learner-friendly environments was insignificant. Although some teachers reported that head teachers encouraged them to make their schools learner-friendly, field observations confirmed that almost all schools had unfriendly environments. • Overall, over 70% of teachers endeavored to build rapport during lessons observed. Management Pillar • Findings revealed that the key guidelines used by officials in all QEI districts, except Bukedea and Nakapiripirit, are those that were developed by the Directorate of Education Standards (DES). • Apart from inspectors in Oyam, Arua, Bukedea and Kyenjojo, those from the remaining QEI districts inform schools of impending visits. This implies that findings on such occasions are not a true representation of the normal school set up. • With the exception of Oyam, Bukedea, Kaabong and Nakapiripirit, the major focus of inspection in the remaining districts was teaching and learning. This is mainly done through observation of lessons and checking pupils’ books. • On average, schools were visited only once during Term 1 of 2009. However, it should be noted that some schools were inspected more than once while others were not inspected at all. County inspectors made the greatest number of school inspections with Nakapiripirit having the highest number of schools visited (88%), followed by Mubende with 70%. The lowest number of schools inspected by county inspectors was in Lyantonde and Bukedea • The key challenges faced by the district inspectorate are inadequate transport, inadequate funding, failure to follow all the inspection guidelines, failure by teachers to implement recommendations made by inspectors and insufficient number of inspectors. Delays in disbursement of funds for inspection aggravate the situation. • District officials in all the 12 districts were in agreement that the financial support to UPE schools is still inadequate. While officials in Amuru, Bukedea, Kyenjojo and Nakapiripirit said that the funds are released on time, those from the remaining districts reported other wise. • All district education departments endeavored to offer support supervision to head teachers towards improving management of schools. However, only district education officials from Oyam, Amuru, Bulisa, Kyenjojo, Mubende and Kaabong districts managed to equip their head teachers with management skills. It should be noted that even the said administrative support is inadequate given the low resource levels in UPE schools. • Schools receive inadequate support from other sources. However, in Karamoja schools highly depend on food from World Food Programme during. • Although CCTs across all QEI districts disclosed that they had played their role during 1st term of 2009. On the contrary, findings from interviews with teachers show that, apart from those in Bulisa, an average of 55% to 74% of teachers in the remaining QEI districts reported that they had never been supervised by CCTs when teaching. In addition, 78% of teachers interviewed in all districts reported that their CCTs had never conducted Continuous Professional Development sessions. Further more, 65.5% of all teachers said that CCTs had never checked their schemes of work and lesson plans. Even the few teachers who had received support from CCTs said it was inadequate. • CCTs pointed out that they faced a number of challenges while executing their work. Key challenges included: inadequate and late release of funds; inadequate transport; negative attitude among teachers; heavy workload due to many activities and large catchment areas and bad terrain. • Majority (63%) of the head teachers interviewed believe that politics influences implementation of UPE. This view was mainly expressed by head teachers from Bududa, Bukedea, Lyantonde, Mubende and Nebbi. They maintained that politics affects implementation of UPE in various ways. For instance, 44% of the head teachers especially in Mubende, Lyantonde, Bukedea, Bududa and Kyenjojo said that political announcements by the president regarding feeding of children discourages parents (including those who are capable) from contributing towards children’s welfare. District officials revealed that with the exception of Arua, Nebbi, Mubende, Kaabong and Nakapiripirit, politics affects running of schools. The different forms of political interference include; influencing transfer of teachers and distribution of school facilities, issuing of threats to parents who want to contribute funds for children’s feeding, making conflicting statements on roles of parents and misinterpretation of government policies. Community: • SMC chairpersons revealed that their cardinal role was the overall monitoring of school activities. • Although one of the key roles of parents in the implementation of UPE is to provide physical and material support to pupils in terms of exercise books, pens and pencils, most parents still do not provide their children with food and required scholastic materials. This was more pronounced in Nakapiripirit where less than 50% of parents provided children with adequate scholastic materials. • With exception of Bulisa and Kyenjojo districts, there were less than 30% functional school management committees in other districts. Functional managements committees met at least 3 times during 2008. Overall, the percentage of functional SMCs is 24%. • Despite the fact that SMCs have over 15 responsibilities1, over 50% of head teachers do not think that they are playing their part. Over 65% of head teachers from Amuru, Arua, Nebbi, Oyam and Nakapiripirit strongly felt that their SMCs were irresponsible. • Overall, the major roles played by parents in running of schools are attending school meetings and encouraging pupils to attend school regularly. • Contribution of the community in infrastructural development is inadequate. During 2008, only 71(40 male and 31 female) and 60 (34 male and 26 female) members of the community provided labor or building materials respectively in each of the sampled schools. • Community capacity to plan, organize and manage school-based initiatives is low. Although it is expected that provision of labor would be the biggest contribution of any poor community, only 5% of the communities made this input. Since only 21% of communities got involved in management of the initiatives casts doubt on the sustainability of such projects. Implications: Despite massive investment in the primary sub-sector, the above findings confirm that the quality of basic education in the 12 poorly performing districts is alarmingly poor. The planned interventions are therefore timely if standard of primary education in those areas is to be improved. Given their connection all the four pillars require urgent attention. This is because improvement in one pillar depends on progress made in another pillar. This calls for a cautious approach when implementing the planned interventions. Way Forward: As indicated in the proposal for this baseline, it is important to carefully monitor and evaluate progress made as a result of the interventions. The MISR reaserch team is proposing to carry out M&E for the next three years in all the 12 QEI districts. It would be suitable to monitor all the 450 schools, but in order to minimize the cost involved, we are proposing to carryout M&E in a sub-sample of 90 schools selected from all the 12 QEI districts for next two years. A full evaluation for all the 450 schools during the third year would be crucial in order to measure the emerging changes brought about by the interventions. In order to have comparable data, the research team is proposing to carry out data collection during the same period (April- July) for three consecutive years. As was the case during execution of the baseline study, three repeated visits will be conducted during the proposed period. Lastly, it is important to carry out studies on key emerging issues in a bid to improve on the planned interventions.