School inspection goes digital

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The National Inspectorate Board (NIB) of the Ministry of Education has introduced the use of digital tools for schools inspection, right from the primary to the pre-tertiary level.

The move is aimed at tightening supervision and surveillance to ultimately improve learning outcomes and raise the standard of education in the country.

Until recently, the board relied on a manual system, by which people were deployed to various schools with papers and questionnaires that were filled by the authorities in each school they visited.

Under the old regime, the NIB generated a 49-page report for each school, but with the new system, which is paperless, it is expected that the final report generated will be only nine pages in all.

Briefing

Briefing journalists in Accra, the acting Executive Secretary of the NIB, Dr Haggar Hilda Ampadu, said under the manual system, the board could inspect only 50 schools each academic year, out of the 36,000 schools in existence.

She said with the digital system, however, school inspectors would use tablets and laptops to collect data from the schools, with about 2,381 schools being targeted to be inspected in one academic year.

Dr Ampadu said so far the NIB had inspected 448 schools this academic year, with another 952 schools currently undergoing inspection in the Ashanti, Volta and Western regions.

With the use of technology, she said, data that were collected could be swiftly analysed and a report issued to the school, following which an aggregate report of all the schools inspected would be issued at the end of the term.

“Next week, we will issue an aggregate report of the 448 schools we have inspected and we will release our findings to the public through the media and on our website,” she said.

Standards

The NIB was established in 2011 as an agency of the Ministry of Education, with the mandate to set and enforce standards to ensure quality teaching and learning in all pre-tertiary institutions in the country, both private and public.

It sets standards for schools by reviewing best practices around the world and also adopting what is suitable for the uniquely Ghanaian context.

The board visits selected schools personally to interview head teachers, staff, students, parents, members of school boards and parent-teacher associations (PTAs) and school management committees.

The investigators also observe the teaching of at least three subjects to ascertain how effective teaching is, as well as measure the level of learning that takes place.

It also analyses at least three years of external examination results from assessments such as the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

The schools are then rated on a four-point quality scale.

Registration of schools

Dr Ampadu said on November 18, last year, the Ghana Education Service (GES) handed over the mandate of registering schools to the board and that last year the NIB began registering schools in the Greater Accra and the Ashanti regions.

She said all schools were to register and display certificates from the board in a space open to the public.

“If a school does not have a certificate, it means it has not been registered.

Before we register a school, we assess its infrastructure and facilities, including library, playground, classrooms, school management committees or boards, PTA, health and safety standards, among other parameters. The goal is to ensure that children are learning in a safe environment,” she said.

Corporal punishment

During a question-and-answer session, Dr Ampadu condemned the use of corporal punishment in schools and urged schools to abide by the ministry’s policy for disciplining students.

“They have to use the positive discipline approach.

We have received reports of children being beaten; this has emotional and physiological effects and can also cause physical harm.

There are better ways to discipline children that allow them to know what they did wrong, as well as promote mutual respect,” she said.

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