The Ministry of Education (MoE) will soon start classifying private schools in the country into different categories based on a package adopted in March 2013. Schools will be categorized from level 1 through level 5 based on standards included in the new package. The new document entitled National Schools Classification Package, is an extension of the quality education package that the Ministry introduced in 2006.
The Package, which is already distributed to schools in the capital for further discussions and insights, presents 26 standards in 5 categories. The standards, which are intended to evaluate schools’ conditions include; compound facilities, schools’ locations, conducive learning environment, curriculum implementation, quality evaluation schemes, internal efficiency and students discipline.
The new package is accompanied by different check lists for inspections on elementary and high schools. For instance, in the package it is stipulated that schools need to establish independent laboratories, stores, counseling offices, pedagogy centers, staff rooms and security offices. Well facilitated play grounds, where children can conduct every sport activities; the size of classrooms and block grants for teachers and the whole education process are also given attention in the new package.
Among other things, the new package appears to demand more space, which has been the problem with most private schools. It demands a compound area of 1,500sqm to 2,500sqm for an elementary school, while a high school should have an area of 3,000sqm to 6,000sqm. Sufficient space is an issue which is forcing schools to look for ways of expansion.
In the short run, the Ministry is only going to focus on the basic requirements for the already existing schools, with a long term plan of bringing all the schools to the expected standard, according to Desalegn Samuel, director for Communication Affairs at the Ministry.
After inspection is conducted by Woreda Education Bureau officials, the Ministry will categorize schools. A level 1 school would be assumed not to have fulfilled the requirements of the new package, scoring less than 50 pct while a level 5 school will be among the highest performers, scoring more than 90 pct in annual evaluation. The Package has not clearly stated what will happen to those schools below standard.
The Ministry has established an Inspection Directorate and produced a more transparent document of checklists to tackle challenges of corruption and other malpractices. “This is a time when we are fighting corruption at a State level. I would not say it is easy to corrupt the inspection process; but I would not say it is impossible either” reflects Desalegn.