Ali Mugenyi, a school principal in Ngoma, Nkoni in Lwengo district, says he has always struggled to keep the various documents detailing the running of the school.
Besides keeping track of all documents, Mugenyi says he spends a lot of money printing documents, some of which end up being damaged by rodents. He says that the various services ranging from registering for school to enrolling at UNEB and monitoring learner progress take a lot of time when done manually.
Mugenyi is one of many school leaders who have long struggled with the traditional method of documentation in schools.
He will be among the many institutions set to benefit as the Ministry of Education and Sports prepares to roll out a new learner information management system to educational institutions across the country, from primary to university level. .
The system dubbed Education Management Information System (EMIS), which is procured for the education sector through the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance under its national support program to ICT Initiatives (NIISP), will help address more of these concerns.
The EMIS tracker should integrate all data and information on learners in the education and sports sector, making it available to different stakeholders at different levels of decision-making.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi, who chaired the unveiling, said he supported the development of the EMIS and other related tools such as the efficiency system Teacher and Learner Success (TELA) to improve the quality of education in the country.
He explains that the Ministry of Finance will finance the deployment of these systems as well as other digital platforms intended to automate public services to achieve efficiency, transparency and accountability.
Mr. David Mushabe, Executive Director of SMS ONE Ltd, consultant for the software, said the EMIS will address the challenges faced by the Department of Education in collecting, processing and analyzing data.
Mr. Mushabe explains that previously the government collected information manually from schools, but the EMIS will help digitize data from pre-school to secondary, tertiary and non-tertiary institutions.
“In 2015, we developed the UNEB system that they currently use to manage registration across the country. We are building on that experience to come up with this one. The system will analyze the information and filter it based on what is necessary for budgeting purposes since each school has a user account,” he says.
He says EMIS had an older system that hadn’t been updated for a very long time. “The system did not have source code in place or user manuals that would have been helpful in upgrading the system,” he adds.
The new EMIS software will be online and accessible to all stakeholders, including district education officials, school inspectors, administrative directors, and resident district commissioners.
Mr. Moses Watasa, Information Commissioner at the Ministry of ICT, noted that the system was what was missing in the streamlining of the education sector.
“Automation is the present and the future. So this (EMIS) is a system that this country has been missing and we are going to support all efforts to have it fully entrenched,” he said.
For a long time, the Department of Education has struggled with ghost learners, but with this new platform, learners will have the learner ID number linked to their parent or guardian’s national ID number since the most of them do not have national identity cards. This is intended to prevent tampering with information.
The EMIS will have a web portal that schools can access to create their EMIS user accounts and update data on their learners, teaching and non-teaching staff, infrastructure and facilities, including physical education and the sports.
The system will also track learner transfers from one school to another and collect information on enrollment on a quarterly basis and attendance.
Mushabe explains that for the first time, the ministry will have organized information for all learners in the country.
“It will also eliminate ghost workers. Since everything related to the school will be online, it will save government and school costs and also improve transparency,” he says.
Mr. David Sengendo, Principal of Buganda Road Primary School, notes that schools have always had unreliable information on the number of learners in schools, which has made it difficult to determine the actual number of enrolments.
He shares that the ministry will now be able to know the dropout rate and why.
This will also help with school management, such as the actual number of teachers in the school, qualifications and resource allocation for schools.
“The Department of Education did not have proper verification systems in place but relied on information provided by head teachers. However, with EMIS, all the details about a particular school are there and any changes made will be known since each child will have a unique number,” he notes.
He adds: “The principal will introduce parents at school level as there should be an option in the system where parents can monitor the performance of their children. This will address a number of information gaps that have existed for a long time. Every stakeholder should be educated on how this platform works.”
Once fully implemented, the new EMIS will process records for almost 15 million learners from over 48,000 educational institutions across Uganda. The planned deployment of the system would depend on the reopening of schools, which will take place next year.
New schools wishing to submit applications for an EMIS number, license or registration certificate for their establishments will do so through the system. Stakeholders welcomed the new system as they found manual recording and data collection to be a long and cumbersome process. With the new EMIS, the application and renewal processes will be just a click away.
Fear of system accessibility since most schools lack internet connectivity and computers remains a fundamental challenge.
However, with the Ministry of Finance being heavily involved in the implementation and roll-out of EMIS, there is an opportunity to raise funds to help some schools and local governments acquire gadgets to use for EMIS activities.
The EMIS will also support an offline mode, meaning schools can use the software to register learners and export the data for online upload to places where they can access the internet.
According to Sengendo, given the poor internet coverage in most Ugandan schools, especially in rural areas, IT infrastructure will be needed in schools to run the system.
“There must be facilitation for data acquisition, technical staff who will manage the system for it to be effective in schools,” says Sengendo.
Ggoobi shares that the Ministry of Finance has also funded the deployment of the Health Management Information System (HMIS) as an Integrated Intelligent Computing System (IICS) that will trace medicines and other health supplies procured by the government. from national medical stores to the patient. than the presence of health workers.
Electronic Public Procurement (e-GP) is also going to be rolled out after a successful pilot in particular entities.
“These are going to help us effectively monitor officials and trace transactions in a way that is almost similar to how a WhatsApp group works. This is the transparency we want to achieve with Egp, EMIS, TELA, HMIS amongst d ‘other e-government systems we will adopt,’ he said.