8 January 2013

Gambia: Peer Review of Two Books Written By Dr Ida Jallow Sallah Reviewer - Mr Lamin Fatajo (peo, Hrd)

The two books entitled "Quality Assurance: Pedagogic Guide For Effective Teaching and Learning" and "Monitoring schools: Quantitative Data Collection Analysis and Reporting" were launched on Friday, 28 December 2012. Educationists were invited to review the two books and give their expert views on the content. The Chief Launcher was Mr. Ebrima Njie, former Principal of Armitage High School and Ex. Head of the National Branch of the West African Exam Council (WAEC).

In the last issue, we published the review statement delivered by Dr. Burama Jammeh, Director of CREDD, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. This issue deals with the review statement given by Mr Lamin Fatajo, Principal Education Officer (PEO), Human Resource Department of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.

Mr Fatajo indicated that his focus was the book entitled Monitoring Schools "Qualitative Data Collection Analysis and Reporting. He expressed his appreciation for the confidence bestowed on him by the author for selecting him, not only to go through the book before it was published but also to invite him to deliver a reviewer's statement. He also commended the author for having the courage to subject the books to peer review and further incorporate observations they deemed to be relevant.

Mr Fatajo observed that the author is respected at the Ministry of Education for the passion she displays in doing her work. He expressed the belief that the publication of the books is motivated by the desire to fix the hidden pieces of the jig saw puzzle in the effective management of schools. He emphasised that effective monitoring fundamentally impacts on the success of lesson delivery and eventually learning outcomes.

He indicated that one of the problems of the education planners is the difficulty they have in backing conclusions with data. He said the logical mind in science cannot give backing to arguments that are not backed by data even if they are evidently true. He indicated that the book is an attempt to equip managers at all levels of the classroom and administration with tools to gather data and make informed choices.

He said the book started with an introduction which gives justification for its publication. It gives definition for types of monitoring. It highlights the need for a monitoring plan and spelt out the monitoring process which includes data collection, analysis and reporting. Chapter one elaborated on data collection starting with the definition and concept of data collection, distinguishing between population and samples and further highlighting the different types of samples.

He indicated that the book has an advantage in introducing the reader to basic computer skills which is so precise and simplified that one could follow the lessons without having in-depth knowledge of computer application.

Mr. Fatajo indicated that the book meticulously focused on situation specific for the utilization of computer skills.

He added that Chapter one further defines variables and proceeded to align data collection with the real classroom setting of the current education system by making references and showing how the tools could be utilised in the current education system. He added that after indicating the tools and how they could be utilised by monitors the author sends a word of caution and he quoted the following:

"It is paramount to note that before using the monitoring tools or carrying on such an activity, data collectors in particular, both internal and external monitors need to be trained properly."

Mr Fatajo observed that one could have the tools but if one does not have the requisite training there will be a shortcoming in professional delivery.

He noted that Chapter two covered data analysis focusing on the concepts and definitions of data analysis. The Chapter lays emphasis on quantitative data analysis. It looked at three level of analysis, that is elementary, intermediate and advance level. He said for obvious reasons the book lays emphasis on the elementary and intermediate level because of the anticipated readership. He said the Chapter gives a schematic diagram of data processing incorporating how to clean the data up to the interpretation of results.

Mr. Fatajo indicated that Chapter three focused on the characterization of data showing how tools like spread sheet excel and SPSS are utilised at the elementary and intermediate level to acquire and interpret results. The Chapter, he said includes tables and charts which could be relied on to make inferences and informed decisions.

According to Mr Fatajo, Chapter four took the significant step to establish relationships by making basic correlation analysis. It gave examples of the relationship between lesson plan and lesson delivery and did calculation to give interpretation.

Chapter five dilated on the multi variable based analysis by focusing on certain schools as case studies. He said charts and tables are provided to make elementary and intermediate analysis to interpret the results.

Mr Fatajo said Chapter six is the most important because it deals with report writing. It focuses on the outcome of all the labour of establishing schools, delivering lessons, monitoring the delivery of the lessons. It highlighted the characteristics of reporting and provided tables to show the elements of quality reporting and their individual advantages.

Mr. Fatajo indicated that the author has showed the characteristics of quality report and concluded with a sound note.

"However and once again, the effective materialization of such an expectation requires user's professional capacity in particular that of internal and external monitors', to be built properly before executing their monitoring duties".

Mr. Fatajo concluded that in this day and age of technology what we put in our system is what we reap. According to him, if we put garbage in we get garbage out.

Mr. Fatajo called on all school managers and education administrators to have a copy of the books. He said that it will effectively guide the processes of their institutions and further help them to better understand their institutions. This in turn will help them to make better decision, he concluded.

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