HomeNewsEducation ministry, Unicef turn to SMSes to track schools progress

Education ministry, Unicef turn to SMSes to track schools progress

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In a bid to strengthen the monitoring and delivery of quality education, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry in conjunction with Unicef is piloting a new project, EduTrac, that will make use of telephonic SMSes to relay data critical in coming up with the assessment.

By Phyllis Mbanje

The project has so far been initiated at all schools in Goromonzi district and by end of this year, it will cover the rest of the schools in the country.

“The SMS-based system will run on a platform called RapidPro — an open source framework that manages real-time data collection using basic mobile phones and simple user-friendly web interface. The system is easy to adapt and can be customised to suit the needs of any organisation in the monitoring processes,” a Unicef report reads.

It will facilitate tracking of accountability for resolution of issues arising from various reports coming from schools while at the same time adding on to the available information management systems such as the Education Management Information System (EMIS).

The tool will be used by the district education officers who are the custodians to identify challenges at the school level, and speedily resolve of issues arising from various reports coming from schools, and help improve planning for education.

In turn, the DEOs would appraise the schools on how to use the facility and make follow-ups with them.

The primary objective of the system is to strengthen the monitoring of education service delivery and improving the quality of education in the country’s schools.

The Alpha testing of the project was held two weeks ago in Harare and director of Education in the ministry, Tomax Dhoba, said the system would serve as a cost-cutting tool in monitoring schools and would go a long way in improving real-time decision making on the part of policy makers at the Ministry’s headquarters.

The SMS-based platform will empower the Ministry of Education to collect any kind of numerical data via SMS and monitor all the 8 750 schools in the country, providing the results on an Internet-based dashboard in real-time.

Among the several indicators that will be tracked include pupil and teacher attendance, progress on the curriculum development and implementation and availability of water points and toilets in schools, among others.

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