Tue. Jun 25th, 2024
Tayib Jan Co-founder & Managing Editor

Most of the provincial governments encourage private firms, NGOs, and individuals to adopt their schools under the public and private partnership programs. Inviting private sectors to intervene in schools is normally done with good intentions, but only good intentions are not enough to have a lasting impact on a complex technical aspect of school improvement. Most of the unplanned and misunderstood initiatives do not produce decent outcomes therefore, such schools revert to their previous positions. In some cases, the schools fall even lower than their previous positions depending on how much the adopter has made a mess of the school. Some adopters appear to stay in a school forever as they enter the school without an exit plan.  Once the government hands over the school, they give the authority to the adopter to take a control of the human and material resources. Regrettably, as a common practice, this authority is also misused. The adopter tries to control everything and runs the schools on their assumptions and common sense. The adopter then either tries to dictate to the school leadership what to do without their consent or creates an alternative leadership by appointing a private headteacher/principal and staff. They take the burden off from the government teachers and transfer it to the low-paid, low-skilled private teachers they hire. This results in mismanaging high skilled human resources hired to carry out a particular job.

School Improvement is not a product rather it is a process. There are new approaches, new methods, and new modes of teaching introduced every day in the education world. The adopting school should be made part of this continuous improvement process. Whole School Improvement Programs are systematic and sustained efforts that aim at changing the internal teaching conditions of a school. There are two critical attributes to this definition, “Systematic” and “Sustain’. Systematic means well thought off means the initiative should be led by a person or organization that knows education inside out. The individual or organization knows different pillars of school improvement and how one aspect controls or supports others. It doesn’t mean changing a public sector school into a private school and then controlling it. It means functioning within the system, parameters yet improving it so that sustainable models are developed to be adapted. Sustain in this case means whenever you leave the school it should not fall, best practice should be valued. Develop the system so well that it is not hinged on external factors. The school should be a ready-moving school that embraces change when required.

The most important person in a school is the headteacher, who manages changes in a school, without his/her motivation improvement does not have any meaning. The headteacher still has to run the school even when the adopter quits. He or she has to keep the staff motivated and take ownership of the improvement process. He or she has to ensure the sustainability of the interventions and safeguard the physical structure and equipment provided. The second most change agent in the school is the teachers, they need to be respected and motivated if the adopter wants the initiates to sink in a take root. The adopter needs to understand that if they hire other teachers from their resources one day their resources are going to dry out. The alternative teachers neutralized the govt. appointed teacher because of the higher accountability under which they function. Since these private teachers are low-paid, well-qualified teachers do not apply. In most cases, the adopter themselves have low teacher education skills they heavily rely on years of experiences of a malpractice headteacher or principal. In the presence of a well-qualified govt. teachers appointing private teachers results in retaliation within the school and two rival groups are formed. Some govt. appointed teachers might not be motivated but it does not mean excluding them from the effort.  

Teacher education is another key aspect of school improvement because the ultimate aim of all the effort is to improve the teaching and learning quality of the school. Imparting teacher education needs proper training need assessment, planning, developing tailored made resources and monitoring.  Unfortunately, adopters miss the mark in imparting quality teacher education programs in schools. In the absence of continuous professional development courses from the government, the teachers lack contemporary knowledge and teaching skills. The adopter on the other hand relies on retired teachers/headteachers or a nonprofessional who has some slides or presentations of teacher training to impart such training. This makes teacher education irrelevant, dull, and counterproductive. As a result, not only, bad practices are endorsed rather teachers feel it a burden and withdraw.  If the teachers withdraw the adopter complains that the teachers are not motivated and do not cooperate. It has been observed that the trainers try to teach teachers as they teach children, they give them lectures on different topics and expect them to convert them into activities when they are in a real classroom. Those who have some sense of teacher education know that teaching adult is very different from teaching children, meaning there is a difference between Pedagogy and Andragogy.

It needs to be understood that government schools do not work on the same pattern, policies and approaches as private schools do. Therefore, the adopter needs to acknowledge the differences and the dynamic of the system and introduce initiatives accordingly.  Take the example of admissions; private schools can refuse admission to a child while govt. schools can not do so under any circumstances. You can ask a private school teacher or principal to do certain tasks by developing your own ToR while you cannot expect the same thing from a govt. employee. They have their services structure and their performance indicators.

To summarize the discussion, we can say that it is imperative that all adopters who have good intentions concentrate on the physical infrastructure and resource provision and do not intervene in other parts of the school improvement until they have hired professionals with contemporary knowledge of education and teacher education.  The adopter should avoid making alternate administrative and teaching structures in a school and try to function within the system. The adopter should not do anything small or big without the headteacher’s consent. They also need to acknowledge that they cannot change everything so therefore, they should concentrate on the aspect at which they are skilful. More than one adopter with different skills set can join hands to improve a school if they aim at Whole School Improvement.  We need to remind ourselves change is a slow process and when it comes to educational changes it is even slower.  

By Tayib Jan

The writer is an educationalist, working as the head of a private teacher training institute. He can be reached at tayib.bohor@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Why School Improvement efforts do not last longer”
  1. You have raised important aspect of education and quality improvement. it is imperative to sustain and institutionalize school improvement initiative so that students are actively and effectively engaged in learning process but unfortunately, the ownership of school improvement efforts is an issue because relevant stakeholder: teachers, head teachers, community, education department/organization are not involved at inception of project and initiative, at time these school improvement initiatives are donor driven rather system oriented. therefore, these are implemented for shorter period but not sustained. therefore, it is significant to involve key stakeholder from day one and make them equally responsible.

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