Good use of data can transform a school’s performance.
When used properly, a School Information System (SIS) can help a school monitor key metrics like assessment and attendance, improve accountability, stimulate discussion and highlight areas where action is required. It can also transform a government’s ability to monitor its schools.
However, in developing countries, there has been only limited adoption of SIS. Existing systems are often too expensive to license, have minimal functionality, or require high speed internet connections. Many schools also lack the skills or experience to properly capture or utilise the data. In some cases governments require data reports from school, but that information isn't used locally to improve learning outcomes. This represents a missed opportunity. If some of these problems could be solved, schools throughout the developing world could use data to highlight and address problems and improve educational outcomes at both local and national levels.
Ark is currently piloting the use of SchoolTool, a free, open source SIS, designed with low income countries in mind. We are conducting pilots in rural Uganda, and Delhi, India to understand in what circumstances, and with how much support, schools can effectively use data for school improvement purposes. Since June 2014, we have been working with PEAS, a network of secondary schools in rural Uganda to implement SchoolTool, focusing on attendance and assessment. Despite ongoing challenges with internet and power, we have had enthusiastic responses from school leaders. We're already seeing an impact from the use of attendance data. Some schools are already effectively analysing and responding to assessment data. We are now rolling out SchoolTool out to low cost private schools in East Delhi.
Our vision is to help schools in less developed countries to improve student learning outcomes by using data effectively. The findings from these pilot programmes will help inform a business plan to scale up the use of SIS by establishing a sustainable international data venture promoting and supporting the use of SIS for school improvement purposes in developing countries.
Using data for school improvement
Despite impressive increases in access to education in recent years throughout the world, enormous challenges remain to improve the quality of education.
A 2012 UNESCO report highlighted the poor performance of schools in actually teaching children, stating that as many as 130 million children fail to acquire basic skills while they are in school.
For more information about our School Information Systems, contact:
International Programme Manager
T: +44 20 3116 1816