The following excerpts from reports of field visits to schools illustrate the types of information you can collect from using this method of information gathering:

  •  "There are ten classes for over 1000 children, leading to chronic over- crowding. Most classrooms are bereft of teaching materials and furniture, except for a table used by the teacher. The blackboards have disintegrated. Many teachers report that they cannot get hold of chalk. Books and writing materials are a rarity, with six children in Grade 3 sharing one mathematics book. Children sit on stones or on the floor. The vast majority of teachers have had minimal training. In many cases, lessons take place under trees. Few of the schools have access to a reliable source of water, and the latrine facilities are inadequate." (Oxfam field visit to Shinyanga, an area in the central-southern region of Tanzania)
  •  "There are around 60 children from the Hmung ethnic community in a classroom which should accommodate fewer than half this number. Their ages range from 6 to 15. Three grades share the same room, with three teachers conducting lessons simultaneously. The language of instruction is Kinh, which most of the younger children are unable to follow. There is a strong emphasis on discipline and rote-learning, with no visible participation from the children them- selves in the learning process." (Oxfam field-visit report on a school in Lao Cai district in the Northern Upland region of Vietnam)
  • "In effect, the primary schools we visited were little more than child- minding centres. In most cases, even if more than one teacher was present, we found that all children had been gathered together in one place, irrespective of age or grade, and were only expected to maintain a semblance of order. ... Supervision took one of the following forms: watching the children from a desk or chair; asking one senior child to maintain order; letting the children look after themselves. In many schools the ambience was nothing short of chaotic." (PROBE survey of primary schools in Uttar Pradesh)

Source: Watkins, K (2000) The Oxfam Education Report.