Link Community Development

Improving the quality of education in Africa

Supporting School Improvement in Malawi (SSIM)

The Supporting School Improvement in Malawi (SSIM) project has enabled stakeholders at school, district and central levels of the education system to understand how their schools are performing and has empowered them to plan effectively for school improvement. As a result of this project 105,746 girls and 107,520 boys in Dedza are attending schools with more informed teachers and school governing bodies, more supportive and empowered communities, and better trained Primary Education Advisors. 236 primary schools in Dedza are equipped to improve their performance and deliver a better quality of education to these learners

Funder: Scottish Government

Total Funding: £391,940

Date: April 2012 – March 2015

The challenge

Despite major efforts, Malawi is not on track to achieving MDG 2 (universal primary education) by 2015, and this is partly due to ‘limited resource availability, ineffective use of resources, inefficient targeting, and inadequate national implementation capacity’ (UNDP Country Programme Document for Malawi 2012-2016).

Project Aims

SSIM aims to address these problems by enhancing the sustainability and effectiveness of school and district evaluation, planning and improvement processes; and through greater synergy with national inspection and advisory services. The aims are:

-       to enhance the capacity of school management structures (Head Teachers, Teachers, school governing bodies) in utilising SPR processes and data for developing SIPs and monitoring implementation;

-       to facilitate effective use by the districts of SPR data to identify district improvement priorities to meet school and district needs including the needs of vulnerable groups such as girls and OVCs; and

-       to demonstrate and disseminate effective linking between national inspection and monitoring, and district and school improvement processes.

Project Activities

1.       Refine and develop indicators and tools for measuring whole school performance during School Performance Review (SPR) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

2.       Train Primary Education Advisors and experience Headteachers in Dedza District to carry our SPR.

3.       Conduct School Performance Review in every school in Dedza

4.       Construct a database to record the SPR result and produce a report with recommendations for improvement for every schools.

5.       Conduct School Performance Appraisal Meetings (SPAM) with every school community to share the SPR results and to collaboratively develop the School Improvement Plan/

6.       Hold an annual District Education Conference to enable stakeholders from communities, schools and the District to understand how primary schools in Dedza District are performing and to enable stakeholders to challenge decision-makers to improve this performance.

7.       Install Solar Connect (solar-powered IT equipment and internet connection) in 5 Teacher Development Centres and train Primary Education Advisors to use this equipment for better management of school performance data and communication with the District Education Office.

Headline Achievements

The Supporting School Improvement in Malawi (SSIM) project has enabled stakeholders at school, district and central levels of the education system to understand how their schools are performing and has empowered them to plan effectively for school improvement.

19 Primary Education Advisors (6 female) from the District Education Office joined forces with 21 experienced Headteachers (8 female) on a series of one day visits to assess how all 236 primary schools in Dedza are performing against 17 School Performance Review (SPR) indicators.

Approximately 12,000 teachers, learners, parents and community members helped to gather information to create accessible reports on their school’s performance (graphs enabled the participation of those with low literacy). At School Performance Appraisal Meetings (SPAMs) they produced achievable School Improvement Plans (SIPs) which address the development priorities for each individual school.

456 (191 female) teachers, parents and community members at 19 schools played the School Management Simulation Game and developed their decision-making skills for school improvement [see Annex D: Case Study]. 

28 field-based District Education Officers (12 female) received computer training and use Solar Connect to access data and support schools remotely.

At the annual District Education Conference 2015, the District Education Manager presented a report on the performance of all primary schools in Dedza to over 250 representatives (43% female) from schools, communities, District Council, and Heads of Ministry of Education, Science and Technology departments, ensuring that the SPR information gathered from schools is integrated into reflection and planning at District and National levels.

As a result of this project 105,746 girls and 107,520 boys in Dedza are attending schools with more informed teachers and school governing bodies, more supportive and empowered communities, and better trained Primary Education Advisors. 236 primary schools in Dedza are equipped to improve their performance and deliver a better quality of education to these learners. 

Read more about the impact and results of the SSIM project.