How Can the Community Participate in Monitoring?

Community monitoring; Photo credit: Indigenous navigator
Community monitoring; Photo credit: Indigenous navigator
Ratan Kumar Sarkar
Written by Ratan Kumar Sarkar

Curriculum, the widespread terminology

After getting near about 100% of students in the schooling system in Bangladesh, the most uttered terminology is quality and secondary curriculum. Simply curriculum is a well-arranged plan that comprised of a bunch of competencies, should be achieved by the pupil over time. But the terminology curriculum is roaming around the scholars, education activists and teachers. It is rarely discussed among the parents, especially those who are highly educated can be interested in getting in touch with the curriculum. This is now the time to break the stereotype practice and tradition to boost up the demand for quality. It should not be a matter of discussion only of the sophisticated people, but for the general people also.

The change towards education has been initiated in Bangladesh after independence and, in particular, from the nineties. So, many of the parents are uneducated, and their children are the first-generation learner. The economic and social change in two/three decades back made a revolutionary change in the requirement and attitude of the parents. This change impacts the schooling system, and thus near about 100% of children are within the classroom. But the problem is, mass people are not aware of the much more technical issues like curriculum and competency, which control the quality of education. Hence, it is the prerequisite derived from reality to educate the parents and community to some extent about curriculum and other relevant issues that control the quality of education.

When the illiterate women in the Sundarban area can use the internet and search their required information from the website, under a project developed for agriculture development, it is more relevant to discuss curriculum and competency to the even illiterate parents to raise their voice for quality and monitoring as action.

Community perspective for student achievement

How the parents in a rural area or slum dwellers in the city who are not so educated assess the educational progress of their children? Twenty to thirty years ago, the indicators were limited with a pass or fail. Parents were happy when they know that their children passed the exam. Gradually it turns to the place obtained in the class, and recently many of the general parents want to know how much score the children have obtained in subject areas. Although the score does not grasp all the competencies stated in the curriculum, especially the behavioral competencies, certificates are provided based on the score.

So, if the community tries to perceive the progress of their children through a score, we cannot ignore this awareness and perception. There may have a debate on score versus quality, but the score is much more meaningful than the only pass and fail. This would be more meaningful if the community can analyze the score of how much number has been obtained in subject areas, and gradually it is progressing or not. If the mass people try to realize the progress of the children in such a way and place their demand on school and schooling system, it will create pressure for change. Once this movement has been created, it can be turned to demand for quality as the next step. This is not the statement in favor of score, but this is in favor of community perspective and awareness. 

How to educate the people for community monitoring

There was a firsthand experience of community monitoring in ECD centers of education program organized by an international organization and its partner organizations. Firstly, the community, especially the mothers and most of them were illiterate or a little bit educated prepared for monitoring. A very simple tool was developed, and few indicators were set to monitor. Mothers were trained on how to monitor on three scales as ‘not so good,’ ‘good’ and ‘very good.’

To identify the scale and indicators, some symbols were used. Before launching the monitoring, community people were educated properly, and they became mentally confident to do the job. After getting started, the mother, who may be illiterate, came to monitor spontaneously and perform the task properly, without any hesitation. This was a great achievement, not in terms of monitoring, but to break the stereotype mindset. The experience is significant in a sense; monitoring is not only the area of educated people or administrators; mass people also can participate.

If it can be done in ECD centers, it may be replicable also in primary and secondary schools. The only condition is the community has to be prepared, tools and techniques should be designed simple, and with their participation and schools should be prepared to ensure the access of the community. All the things are inter-related and part of chain work. If all the components of the chain work properly, a successful result can be achieved.

There should have some gradual steps to prepare the community for doing the monitoring. Firstly, a series of meetings and discussions should be arranged among the community and teachers for getting a common understanding of the notion of community monitoring. Without having a common understanding and acceptance, the initiative will be paper book discourse rather practical procedure.

The education officials also can be involved in these meetings and discussions that will bring the motivation and confidence of the teacher. Secondly, a wide range of workshops will be organized among the pertinent stakeholders for preparing a suitable tool and method of monitoring. This is very important because without having suitable and practically implementable tools and techniques, it will not work. Thirdly, a wide range of training on tools and techniques for the community will be needed to make it happen in the field.

The action: Community monitoring

Community monitoring is a much newer concept in the Bangladesh context, especially in the education sector. As the growing voice for quality has been arising from a different corner, it would be expediting with more participation by the community. Even it can be evolving as a movement for education in Bangladesh. And getting this reality, children will enjoy their rights.

Education is neither for the educationists nor for the teachers. It is for the children; it is their right. The community is the beneficiary of education. As they are primary stakeholders, they have the right to have their rights, and we should prepare themselves to take part in the action.

About the author

Ratan Kumar Sarkar

Ratan Kumar Sarkar

Ratan Kumar Sarkar works as a Program Specialist in the BRAC Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University, Bangladesh.

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