Idara-e-Taleem–o-Agahi (ITA), with funding from Ilm Ideas (a DFID funded program) initiated the first school assessment program in Pakistan, in June 2012. The theory of change of this program is to undertake school assessments across four dimensions, which include: developing a gap analysis; diagnosing options for change and creating benchmarks for school ratings; fostering a complete ecosystem for low to medium-cost schools, providing informed choices and actions for parents and school owners.
The program has been designed with an emphasis on the enhancement of: capacity for quality teaching, infrastructure & learning materials, sustainable financial management, and governance and partnerships.
ITA partnered with the micro-credit ratings firm, M-CRIL India, for the capacity development of its team and for technical assistance on the formation of assessment tools. While these assessments were free of cost to the target schools in the pilot phase, ITA aims to charge for the service going forward, on a differentiated pricing model that takes schools’ financial capacity in to account.
The SASI toolkit is designed to access and assess information along the following key dimensions: (1) school background, (2) quality of education and teachers’ capabilities, (3) student learning levels (Math, English & Urdu), (4) record-keeping techniques, (5) teaching methodologies in practice and classroom observation, (6) teachers’ satisfaction level & challenges, (7) parents’ satisfaction level and their degree of engagement with the school.
The assessment exercise is followed-up with a comprehensive analytical report that is explained in detail to school owners. Remediation options such as a directory of service providers and organizations for schools improvements are also shared. Follow-up evaluations to assess subsequent improvements are also recommended to school owners.
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CEI approaches in action
- 26 schools assessed through SASIP
30 low cost private schools in Lahore and Karachi were identified for assessment in this pilot project, and 26 of these schools signed an agreement with ITA for the implementation of SASIP.
Until now 26 schools in Lahore and Karachi have been assessed using the new rating, with 7 reports finalized and given the go-ahead after a technical review by M-CRIL. An estimated 17,500 children have been reached in the targeted 26 schools through this intervention.
An official launch was held during the second week of June 2013, where various stakeholders, donors, government officials, and potential collaborators were invited. The program has gained momentum and recognition through its launch and marketing materials. As a result schools are contacting ITA to learn about the new rating system and an estimated 35 schools have been visited in Lahore and Karachi for program orientation. As of mid-June 2013, 1 school in Faisalabad has commissioned a paid evaluation with more sales expected. Additionally, 5 government schools have also agreed to allow a SASIP evaluation.
During the pilot, the project targeted low-cost schools in Lahore and Karachi. Those clients have now become ITA’s marketing agents and the demand for this service has grown substantially. A scale-up of this program has been approved by Ilm Ideas and the plan aims to expand SASIP to 3-5 Districts of Sindh, Punjab and KP in a cost-effective manner using the existing ITA infrastructure (ITA currently has 30 offices across the country).
During the pilot, SASIP was implemented free of charge, but in order to make the social enterprise sustainable beyond donor funding, the schools will be charged for the assessments through a segmented price structure to cover costs in the scale-up.
ITA is currently in discussion with Punjab Danish schools, RSU, and the Punjab Education Foundation with regard to enlisting some of their schools as SASIP schools as well. The organization is also keen to take up a formal discussion with the State Bank of Pakistan to explore possibilities for expanding appropriate instruments across commercial and micro-finance institutions for education.
Monitoring & Evaluation
ITA monitors its project results through various methods that include regular reporting and project team meetings. The project team develops and provides monthly and quarterly reports to the donor once they are reviewed by the overall ITA team.
7 analytical reports have been prepared and shared with school management.