Friday, March 19, 2010

Madrassas Boos Lower and Upper Basic Education Enrolment

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-At the level of the lower basic schools, for the period 2001/2002 – 2006/2007, madrassas (Islamic Arabic schools) saw an increase in enrolment from 157,544 to 220,432 pupils or a gross enrolment ratio from 82 percent to 92 percent.
In the area of upper basic education, there was a rapid expansion, between 2001/2002 and 2006/2007, with enrolment increasing from 42,094 to 66,025 translating into growth in gross enrolment ratio from 43 percent to 65 percent.
This growth in enrolment represents an average annual growth rate of 15 percent, which exceeds the target of 12.7 percent. However, the period 2005/2006 to 2006/2007 also witnessed a drop in gross enrolment ratio for boys from 62 percent to 60 percent whilst that of the girls increased from 56 percent to 57 percent.
The madrassas’s enrolment formed 10 percent and 15 percent of the total enrolment in 2001/2002 and 2006/2007 respectively, at that level in the Education sector.
During the same period, the gross enrolment ratio for boys showed a decrease from 85 percent in 2001/2002 to 82 percent in 2004/2005, but an increase to 92 percent in 2006/2007, whereas the gross enrolment ratio for girls registered an appreciable increase from 80 percent to 95 percent.
This information was found in the Education Sector 2008-2011 Medium Term Plan for the Republic of The Gambia.
According to the report, the madrassa support program consists of providing English teachers, instructional materials and participation in the school-feeding program to registered madrassas that synchronize their programs with the national curriculum.
This program, the report added, has been highly successful noting that about 149 registered madrassas participate in the program, double the number initially planned.
The Medium Term report further stated that between 2004-2006/2007, madrassas accounted for 65 percent of the enrolment increase in primary schools. The madrassas now account for an estimated 15 percent of lower basic school enrolment, up from 10 percent a decade earlier, and the majority of this increase was in the madrassas that have synchronized with the national curriculum, the report added.
The report explained that the madrassa program has made a particularly significant impact in regions 5 and 6 where, between 2002 – 2006, the madrassas boosted the lower basic gross enrolment ratio from 66 percent to 87 percent in region 5 and from 47 percent to 73 percent in region 6.
However, “the program was not without hitches”, many English teachers posted to the madrassas were confronted with an unfamiliar environment, and were concerned about mobility, said the 2008-2011 report.
To address this problem, it stated that the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education switched from directly posting teachers to providing the financial resources to the madrassas to recruit their own teachers.
Again, as a result of this program, madrassas are sponsoring their untrained Arabic Islamic teachers to enroll in the Gambia College teacher certification program, thereby facilitating horizontal and upward mobility.
According to the report, given the important role the madrassas play in providing education, the medium term plan will aim to harmonize grant-in-aid policies and strengthen support and supervision.
In addition, the EGRA and NAT will also be introduced in the madrassas – Grade 9 and Grade 12 examinations will be standardized and administered by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
The report pointed out that the core text-books of Mathematics, Science and Social Environmental Studies will be translated in Arabic, and will be provided together with English textbooks to all official madrassas.
On efficiency measures, it said that in terms of rates of completion, repetition and drop out, the sector has witnessed relatively high progression and completion rates and low repetition.
According to the 2005/2006 MICS (multi indicator cluster survey) there is an estimated 96 percent of an entering cohort reaching grade 5, whilst the net lower basic completion rate averaged 80 percent.
In an attempt to attain the access goals within resource constraints, the report noted that the sector targeted an increase in the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) from 30:1 to 45:1 through the expansion of double shifting and multi-grade teaching.
The results of these interventions have indicated success in schools and increasing multi-grade teaching as a strategy in more than 50 schools, particularly in rural areas.
On objectives, it explained that in order to sustain the gains registered thus for, and remain on track to universalize lower basic education by 2015, the following targets have been set to be achieved during the period of the MTP (2008-2012):
- To increased admission rate from 10 percent to 125 percent
- Increase lower basic school (LBS) gross enrolment ratio (including official madrassas) from 91.4 percent to 101.9 percent.
- Reduce repetition rate in LBS from 5.8 percent to 3.6 percent
- Reduce dropout rate in LBS from 4.1 percent to 2.8 percent.
- Increase the transition rate (from grade 6 to 7) from 88 percent to 90 percent.
- Increase share of enrolment for boys in LBS from 49 percent to 50 percent.
- Increase achievement scores for girls at all levels to catch up with boys (NAT, EGRA etc)
- Focus on reading as a key foundation competency.
- Introduce national languages to ensure early literacy of children.

Concerning challenges, the report acknowledged that there has been considerable access in basic education, adding, “it should be noted that such expansion has been in favour of girls due to the worrisome drop in enrolment for boys”.
In addition, the school places are in urban and peri-urban areas.
However, as remote villages in rural areas still show significant increases in the school-age population, any expansion of access during the period of the MTP will have to address the needs of these two distinct populations.
Hence, additional places in both lower and upper basic schools will have to be created at an accelerated pace.
This is the enrolment projection from 2010-2011 as highlighted by the MTP for LBS level:

Grade 1 in 2010 - 58,575 and in 2011 - 62,109
Grade 2 in 2010 - 50,845 and 2011 - 54,243
Grade 3 in 2010 – 45,348 and 2011- 48,410
Grade 4 in 2010 - 41,017 and 2011 – 44,106
Grade 5 in 2010 – 36,326 and 2011 – 39,464
Grade 6 in 2010 - 32,136 and 2011 - 35,046.

For the Upper Basic Schools (UBS) in 2010 and 2011:

Grade 7 in 2010 - 31,621 and in 2011 - 32,185
Grade 8 in 2010 - 31,086 and in 2011 - 30,972
Grade 9 in 2010 - 29,316 and in 2011 – 29,807

(Source: Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education Simulation Model 008)

In addition to the UBS enrolment projections, the following targets have been set under the MTP:
- Increase UBS GER (including official madrassas) from 60 percent to 69 percent.
- Reduce repetition rate in UBS from 4.7 percent to 3.0 percent.
- Maintain dropout rate in UBS at 2.0 percent.

In order to deliver the above targets, the following are outlined by the MTP: a school environment conducive for teaching and learning i.e. fencing of schools, provision of clean and safe drinking water and provision of separate toilet facilities for boys and girls.
Also improved quality of teaching, that is, training and retention of teachers in the system, training of teachers on special needs education, training of official madrassa teachers and training of teachers on local teaching aids production.
It also includes cluster-based monitoring, increased learning opportunities in basic education, adequate quality and quantity of teaching and learning materials, relevant and up-to-date curriculum for basic education and improved management of schools, that is, community participation and improvement of pedagogic leadership.

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