Inviting parents to hold teachers to account in Honduras

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This blog is written by the GEM Report and Megan R Gavin, Ph.D, also author of a case study on accountability and education in Honduras commissioned for the 2017/8 GEM Report. The blog is part of a series showing that accountability in education is shaped by a country’s history and political, social, and cultural context.

In the last couple of decades several far-reaching accountability reforms have been implemented in Honduras, most of which put parents front and centre in helping to address education challenges.

One of the most substantial reforms putting responsibility in the hands of parents was the Programa Hondureno de Educacion Comunitaria (Honduran Community Education Project) (PROHECO), which began in 1999 and is funded entirely by the World Bank. PROHECO follows similar reforms in Central America, namely the Community Education Program (EDUCO) in El Salvador and the Programa Nacional de Educacion (PRONADE). However, unlike these similar reforms in Central America, PROHECO in Honduras is the only one which remains active.

quote 1The project’s initial concern was to address primary enrolment in rural areas by increasing parental control via school-based management. Under the reform, decisions related to the salaries, hiring/firing and supervision/evaluation of teachers are put in the hands of parents on school councils.

While PROHECO is designed to hold teachers accountable, there are other legislative mechanisms and social pressures for parents to be actively involved as part of their responsibilities.

1Analysing data from the Unidad de Medicion de la Calidad de la Educacion (UMCE) in 2003 showed that PROHECO teachers report fewer work hours per week, but spend more time on teaching activities. Their absences correspond with teacher training whereas traditional school teachers’ absences correspond with union participation; for this reason, PROHECO schools have remained open when other schools have closed over the last two years due to strikes. Some argue that the low capacity issues of teachers and parents in PROHECO schools are offset by the impact they are shown to have on teacher behaviour, in that they show teachers spend much more time on task.

quote 2.pngAnother accountability reform known as “Murales de Transparencia” (Walls of transparency) started in 2010 as a pilot but have now been scaled nationwide.  The information posted on the walls shows how many students there are in classes, types of meals and other sorts of resources provided to teachers. Some projects post information about student achievement results on these walls at the municipal and school levels, which is designed to help parents feed into pedagogical decisions.

quote 3The assumption in both these reforms is that parents are literate, which is often not the case for many of those living in rural Honduras. The result is that parents in urban areas who can read are more likely to hold their teachers accountable than in rural areas cannot.

In addition to these programs, legislative reforms include the Community Participation Law (2011) and the Fundamental Law of Education (2011); both of which decentralize decision-making and responsibility down to parents and the school level. The latter in particular emphasizes parents’ role in not only supporting but also monitoring their children’s education.

These key reforms all, therefore, all aim to increase the power that parents have in the accountability structure. But, as mentioned, they all require parents to have a certain level of skills in order to meet their responsibility effectively. This leads to the recommendation that training should continue for parents at the local level, including on how to interpret and monitor student achievement results.  Teachers should not have to carry out the training; NGOs and other actors should assume the role of producing assessment results in a user friendly way for parents to easily interpret.

2017/8 GEM Report recommendations

Global Honduras
Governments must make the right to education justiciable in national law, which is not the case in 45% of countries. The right to education is justiciable in national law.
Governments should be transparent about the strengths of weaknesses of education systems, opening policy processes to broad and meaningful consultation and publishing a regular education monitoring report. Honduras has not produced a national education monitoring report since 2010.
Governments should design accountability for schools and teachers that is supportive and formative, and avoids punitive mechanisms. Formative assessments are part of the Diseno Curricular Nacional Basico and are not intended to be punitive
Governments should fulfil their commitment of spending at least 4% of GDP on education or allocating 15% of total government expenditure. Honduras has reached both the two financing targets for education, spending 5.8% of GDP and 19% of public expenditure on education.



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