Monitoring the quality of education in Niger: promoting dialogue and transparency
Despite the many reforms and various pedagogical tools initiated by the Ministries of Education, the Nigerien education system faces many obstacles when it comes to improving the management of the quality of education. The mechanisms used are not sufficiently adapted to the real needs of teachers and students. They do not allow for the transformation of practices, nor do they strengthen the achievements of students.
In the early 2000s, Niger opted for free primary education and facilitated access to school. The enrolment rate rose from 34% in 2000  to 71% in 2017 . Despite this tangible improvement in the expansion of education, the quality of education remains a major challenge. According to the 2014 evaluation of the CONFEMEN Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems, only one-third of pupils master basic skills after six years of schooling.
These findings have not escaped the attention of the ministry's managers and partners. Various measures have been taken to try to improve the situation, but the lack of positive results is due to an education system that is out of step with the realities on the ground. The Ministry provides pedagogical support or training, but their programmes do not sufficiently take into account social and geographical differences or, quite simply, pupils' results.
A top-down system
In Niger, the ministry's central administration stronghold on the management of the education system and on the implementation of reforms and regulations does not facilitate exchanges. At each level, accountability is marked by vertical transmission of information, and this lack of dialogue between stakeholders affects the entire system. There is very little analysis of data and results are often distorted due to the low level of feedback to central management from the field. In this top-down logic, the actors do not share their thoughts and do not exchange information in order to adapt national decisions to each territory.
"At the national level, we cannot say what a teacher's real need is because the DREP's training division does not transmit the reports on the use of bulletins to the DFIC because of the hierarchical reports," - as this officer points out, each link in the chain is disconnected from the lower level and its realities, and these strict professional views lead to feelings of mistrust among officers, who end up equating supervision with sanctions.
Overly formal frameworks
The supervision and support system for teachers is focused on formal control. During class visits, for example, supervisors do not take into account the real difficulties of the teams and the pupils' results but rely on compliance with the standards governing the session. These compliance checks, directly linked to hierarchical demands, widen the gap between field workers and administrative bodies. One agent deplored the lack of freedom to exchange views: "It is clear that CAPED and mini-CAPEDs must be rethought and, above all, oriented towards more in-depth analyses of practices; they must become high places of reflection where exchanges are centered on teachers' experiences and the enrichment that they can generate.
Unsuitable teaching tools
A study conducted in 2017 by the Ministry showed that teachers have a poor command of the numerous skills they teach, including the training scheme which is widespread, but is designed by external bodies, then standardized and generalized throughout the country. On the one hand, the programmes are defined without knowledge of the different contexts between schools in urban and rural areas, and on the other hand, the teachers who are directly impacted are not involved in either the development or in the definition of the objectives set.
Only an endogenous and progressive change at all levels of the education system would make it possible to improve quality management. More room for dialogue and transparency in regulating actions could help to reduce the disconnection between the field and central management.