Rethinking School Inspection in the Third World: The case of Kenya Zachariah Wanzare, O.
Many countries throughout the world have developed some means of monitoring the quality and standards of their education systems. In most cases, the monitoring process involves supervision by inspection of educational institutions such as schools, and other aspects of the education systems. The critical role of inspection as one of the dominant strategies for monitoring and improving the performance of education system in schools cannot be overemphasized. Inspection is concerned, in the main, with the improvement of standards and quality of education and should be an integral part of a school improvement program. In many countries where inspectoral system of supervision of schools is conducted, the responsibility for inspection lies with the Inspectorates. School inspection practices, especially in Third Word countries, such as Kenya, are associated with numerous problems which, as a result, force attempts to improve education quality into the background. This paper examines some of the problems that frustrate inspection of schools in Kenya and provides alternative strategies for improving the practice of school inspection. Also, included are some fundamental assumptions underpinning the practice of inspection, the recent attempts by the Kenyan government to improve school inspection, and the major challenges that the future school inspection system will have to address. The chapter concludes by providing some implications for practice and for research. Sources of information include print-media articles from Kenyan major newspapers and magazines on school inspection, professional educational journals, seminar papers written by professionals, and educational books.
One strategy for monitoring teaching and learning in schools and for enhancing quality and raising standards which has received a great deal of attention over the years concerns supervision by inspection. According to Clegg and Billington (1994), in reflecting on the practice of inspection by the Office For Standards in Education (OFSTED), Britain, a major purpose of inspection is “to collect a range of evidence, march the evidence against a statutory set of criteria, arrive at judgments and make those judgments known to the public” (p. 2). Also, Maw (1996), in reflecting on the British Education (Schools) Act 1992, noted that the role of inspection in Britain is to monitor the standards, quality, efficiency, and ethos of the schools and to inform the government and the general public on these matters. Further to this, McGlynn and Stalker (1995), who wrote about the process of school inspection in Scotland, cited the following three reasons for conducting school inspection. These are to: (a) report on the effectiveness of education in schools and other educational institutions and to recommend action for improvement; (b) evaluate the arrangements for assuring quality in schools; and (c) provide frank and objective advice to the higher education authorities and to ensure that educational initiatives are implemented effectively. Additionally, Wilcox and Gray (1994), in a study that explored the reactions of primary teachers, headteachers, and inspectors to school inspection in three Local Education Authorities (LEA) in Britain, reported that both inspectors and the school staff agreed that inspection had been valuable in reviewing the position of the school and indicating its way forward. Therefore, inspection is concerned, in the main, with the improvement of standards and quality of education and should be an integral part of a school improvement program. The rational for this improvement is three folds (McGlynn & Stalker, 1995): (a) the universal recognition of the right of every child in every classroom, in every school to receive a high quality education appropriate to their needs and aptitudes; (b) the effectiveness in...
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