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Accountability in Education in action: Evidence-based school improvement in Malawi, Africa

Tue, April 16, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific G

Proposal

Accountability, as stated in the 2017 Global Education Monitoring Report, “… influences the way students learn, teachers teach, and governments govern” (UNESCO, pg. 11). Link Community Development Malawi has worked in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) to develop a comprehensive set of processes and tools for school improvement. This accountability model enables government staff, school leaders and community members to access accurate data to inform decision-making at school, district and central levels. Raising community awareness of the standard of education their children are entitled to receive alongside opportunities for holding the schools and government accountable for providing that standard has contributed to increased community participation, more efficient resource allocation and contributed to improved exam results.

Link’s model supports government advisors to collect data to evaluate how school’s perform against Malawi’s National Education Standards. At a school level community meeting, the data are shared via a Community School Report Card which offers a simple, appropriate and effective visual representation of the school’s performance. Recommendations for improvement are discussed and a school improvement plan that responds to the specific needs of the school is developed. The plans are implemented and carefully monitored by local stakeholders. At zone, district and national level, the data are used to analyse the performance of individual schools, zones and districts and then develop education plans which allocate resources and support where they are needed most. Representatives from each school attend Zone and District Education Conferences where they share their schools’ challenges. Link’s model sees parents, communities, students and staff being given access to accurate data in an appropriate manner so they can put pressure on the government to support them to improve and directly and actively shape and monitor school policies and practices. The model supports collective, transparent and accountable school improvement.

The presentation will explore Link’s accountability approach alongside beneficiary feedback that indicates the success in two project districts. Endline data are showing a significant increase in community engagement in school improvement planning and monitoring (86% of community members surveyed agreed that they were effectively involved in school management, compared to 25% prior to the project) with attendance at community meetings of approximately 145,000 participants across 446 primary schools. In addition, parents, learners, and teachers believe that teaching quality, teacher and learner attendance, and community commitment to education have also increased. Closer scrutiny of national level examination data may show a correlation between these improvements and exam performance.

To conclude, this model of social accountability through monitoring and participation in school governance improves responsiveness to local needs by increasing direct contact with schools. Accurate and regular analysis of data, based on real issues in schools and aligned with national priorities, allows better use of scarce resources and a more efficient education system. Increased accountability provides greater transparency and openness which encourages commitment from a wide variety of stakeholders. If schools are held accountable through transparent, locally owned, inclusive and sustained processes, then learning will improve for the long term for everybody.

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