Module A4: Use of Information in Monitoring, Planning and Management

5. Access and participation

We can measure access and participation in basic education by analysing various aspects such as first-time new entrants to Grade 1, enrolment in different grades, class attendance, students repeating grades, students dropping out of school, students completing their studies, or students having achieved various learning outcomes.


5.1 New entrants and enrolment

In areas where there are many school-age children who do not attend school, bringing these children into school should be our top priority. Once most or all the children in a local area are attending school, we may turn our attention to further improving the quality, outcomes and impact of education. The kind of indicators we use to monitor and make decisions can therefore differ from school to school and from one local area to another.

To ‘reach the unreached’, we use indicators such as the gross and net intake rates and enrolment ratios to calculate the proportion of school-entrance age and school-age children who are enrolled in school. We can then use the figures obtained to estimate the proportion and number of children who are not enrolled in school or in Grade 1 so we can target these ‘unreached’ children (see example 18).

To calculate such indicators for the local area, the local or district education officer can first contact appropriate local government offices to obtain data about the school-age and school-entrance age children in the area served by the school. Such data may have been collected during population censuses or estimated based on household surveys results. They may also be derived from civil registration or birth registration records.

In collaboration with the school manager, the local or district education officer may assign teachers to visit households to verify if there have been changes to the numbers recorded due to migration or mortality, and to precisely identify the characteristics of children who are not in school. The district or local education offices may then send out inspectors to cross-check a sample of house- holds in order to ensure data accuracy, and to obtain a clearer picture of who are the ‘unreached’ children, and where they are in the local area.

Once the data have been verified, access expressed as apparent intake rate can be calculated by dividing the number of new entrants to Grade 1 at the school by the number of local children who are of school-entrance age and the net intake rate is calculated by dividing the number of new entrants who are of school-entrance age by the local school-entrance age population. The closer the intake rate is to 100 per cent, the more young children have access to Grade 1. Conversely, low intake rates signal that many school-entrance age children do not have access to primary school.

Participation in primary education is measured in terms of the gross and net enrolment ratios. These ratios can be calculated in a similar way to the intake rate, by dividing respectively the total number of students enrolled in all grades at the school, and those of the official primary school- age, by the school-age population in the local area. Enrolment ratios close to 100 percent indicate a high degree of participation, whereas a low net enrolment ratio of for example 75 per cent indicates that the remaining 25 per cent of the primary school-age population are still ‘unreached’. The sorted and circled data in example 18 clearly highlighted the sub-districts with the most and the least proportions of ‘unreached’ children.

In some cases, there may be more than one school covering the school-age population in a given local area. Lower values for the intake rates and enrolment ratios may be calculated for each individual school because they share the same school-age population. in such cases, it will be more meaningful for the local or district education officer to calculate intake rates and enrolment ratios for the local area as a whole by summing up the numbers of new entrants and students enrolled in all the local schools, and dividing these by the local school-entrance age or school-age population in order to find the percentage and number of children who are not enrolled in school. When combined with detailed information – which may be obtained by school teachers and inspectors during home-visits to identify who, where and how are the ‘unreached’ children – more appropriate measures can be taken to bring them back to school.

5.2 duration of travel from home to school

A main factor affecting children’s access to school is the distance or time needed to travel from home to school. This factor is especially important for children of younger age, for example those who are of the age to attend Grade 1 and Grade 2 of primary school. example 19 presents the number of students by gender and by grade according to the time required for them to travel from home to school (see also Part 5 of the example Annual School Census form in Module A2).

The percentage distributions calculated for students according to time of travel from home to school on the right-hand side of the table indicate that about half of them (48.9 per cent of boys and 50.5 per cent of girls) can reach school within 15 minutes. Among those who live farther away from school, 40.2 per cent of boys and 25.8 per cent of girls take more than 30 minutes to come to school, while 4.3 per cent of boys and 2.1 per cent of girls spend over an hour travelling to and from school.

Activity 9

Review and discuss with other school managers, district and local education officers about your experiences of trying to ‘reach the unreached’, and then answer the following questions

  1. Are intake rates and enrolment ratios systematically calculated in your school or for the local area? if yes, how useful are they? if no, why not?
  2. What methods should we use to identify the ‘unreached’ children?
  3. How would you use the intake rates and enrolment ratios to ‘reach the unreached’?

In principle, young children attending Grades 1 and 2 should not have to travel more than 15 minutes between home and school. The light grey-coloured cells in the lower left side of the table in example 19 show that 15 students in Grade 1 and 25 students in Grade 2 take more than 15 min- utes to reach school. This accounts for respectively 45 and 78 per cent of the total number of stu- dents in these two grades. The school management and their class teachers must talk to the parents or guardian of these young children in order to ensure these children have access to safe forms of transport and can travel to and from school in a timely manner.

in example 19, we can see there are a number of students in Grades 3 and 4 who travel more than 30 minutes to reach school (see the highlighted cells in blue) and some students in Grades 5 and 6 who travel more than an hour to reach school (see the highlighted cells in dark grey). in the same way as for the younger students, the school management and class teachers must take into ac- count the terrain, conditions of roads, footpaths and/or waterways, and the modes of transport that are available, in order to organize with the children’s parents appropriate means of transport to and from school.

Activity 10

Review and discuss with other school managers, district and local education officers about experiences in monitoring and using the data about students’ distance or duration of travel from home to school. Then answer the following questions:

  1. Does your school or the schools in your district, province or country keep records of the time students require to travel from home to school? if yes, how do you record this information? if no, why not?
  2. How are such data used?
  3. What are the difficulties in monitoring, analysing and interpreting such data?
  4. How best can such data be used?

5.3 Attendance

Having brought children to school, the next step is to make sure that they regularly attend classes and participate in school activities. By systematically using monthly class attendance sheets to record student attendance in class, school managers can calculate and compare average attendance rates by student and by class over the past month or school year (see example 20). An individual student’s average attendance rate can also be used as one of the indicators of student performance.

Average attendance rates are calculated by dividing the number of days a student attended school by the total number of school days. Such averages can be calculated for each month, each semester and each school year, for all or each student, and all classes in a school. By doing so, we can compare student attendance between classes and individuals over time, in order to identify peak periods and patterns of student absenteeism.

Besides showing the situation in terms of class attendance at school, this indicator can be used to identify students who have been frequently present or absent from class (see highlights in ex- ample 20). Teachers can use this information to investigate further the reasons for the absences and to see what kind of remedial measures may be taken. Some schools have regulations to expel students when their average attendance rate falls below a specific norm or limit, but it is advised that every possible remedial measure is applied before a decision is made to expel a student from school. Attendance rate can also be applied to teachers as part of their performance evaluation.

Activity 11

Review and discuss with other school managers, district and local education officers about your experiences in monitoring student and teacher attendance. Then, answer the following questions:

  1. How do you monitor student and teacher attendance? What kind of difficulties have you encountered in such monitoring?
  2. What kind of indicator(s) do you calculate and use for measuring student and teacher attendance? Are such indicator(s) useful and for what purpose(s)?
  3. What other indicators can be used to monitor student and teacher attendance?

5.4 Grade repetition and drop out

Children may repeat a grade in school for different reasons. Often it is caused by scholastic performance below the requirements for promotion to the next higher grade, but parents may decide to have their children repeat a grade for other reasons. from the management point of view, when a child repeats a grade it reduces the efficiency of the school and/or the state education system because they have to invest resources for one more school year for each repeater. from a learning perspective, some people believe grade repetition is positive because it gives each repeater a second chance to learn better. Others however worry about the negative psychological effects repetition may have on children, especially if it instills a sense of failure which may increase the tendency for them to drop out of school.

information on repetition and drop-outs can be extracted from individual student records in school and summarized into a table (see example 21 below).

On the bottom row of example 21 we note that an average of 4.7 per cent of the students repeated the same grade and 8.2 per cent of the students dropped out before the end of the school year for all grades in this school. Repetition was high in Grade 1 (6.0%) perhaps due to difficulties young children have in adapting to school life. Repetition was highest in Grade 4 (7.9%), probably because children are at the age when their families require them to stay home to help with household chores. The same pattern can be observed for dropout rates where 12.9 per cent of students in Grade 4 dropped out, and 11.3 percent in Grade 1. It will be useful to create similar tables separately for boys and girls in order to as- sess the differences by gender, or by other student characteristics, so as to adopt appropriate solutions to respond to the problems of repetition and drop out of students with specific profiles.

The moment a child drops out of school, he/she rejoins the ranks of the ‘unreached’. Minimizing drop- out by preventing children from leaving school may require a number of measures to improve the school environment and teaching/learning processes, and to provide assistance to the child or the family. By knowing how many children repeat and drop out of each grade every year, and by understanding the underlying reasons, right decisions can be made to adopt appropriate pre- ventive measures to reduce such phenomena. For those children who have dropped out of school but have not entered another school, remedial measures may be taken to bring them back to school.

Similar tables can be produced at the district and higher levels by aggregating the school-level tables. By doing this we can examine and compare the patterns of repetition and drop out by grade between schools and districts.

The student cohort flow model, which is described in Annex 3 of Module A3, can be applied to derive the promotion, repetition and dropout rates by grade, for further analysis and interpreta- tion in the same way as in example 21 above.

Activity 12

Review and discuss with other school managers, district and local education officers about their experiences in dealing with the problems of students repeating grades and dropping out of school. Then answer the following questions:

  1. How serious is the problem of grade repetition and dropping out in your school or the schools in your district, province or country? How can you know about the scale of this problem? What are the main reasons for children repeating grades or dropping out of school?
  2. How can information about repetition and drop outs by grade help you take preventive and/or remedial measures?

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