Kiribati Education Ministry officials have recently been trained by the Pacific Community (SPC) to use tablets for collecting data that would inform the education sector’s performance.
SPC Education Management Information’s Systems Team Leader, Scott Pontifex explained that the officials and outer island representatives were trained to use the tablets for data collection from schools for important statistical reporting against the Sustainable Development Goals and Pacific Education Development Framework for example, as well as tracking performance of schools and the Ministry of Education (MOE) against the sector’s operational and strategic plans.
Digitizing this process would allow the ministry officials to assess and address the accuracy of the data before it is submitted to their headquarters Information Management System, resulting in efficient data verification, increased reporting on data oriented performance indicators, and reduced lead and turnaround times for decisions on previously unanalysed data.
Data will now be verified in the field rather than requiring the ministry headquarters to question the data and wait for a response from schools, eliminating long waits due to limited connectivity and the expanse of islands.
The ministry would now be able to report against 75 per cent of their data-orientated performance indicators with the remainder of indicators awaiting changes to legislation and training of school leaders by another programme. Previously, the ministry could only report against 25 per cent of their data-orientated performance indicators.
Mr Pontifex stated that data collection lead times would be reduced from 12 months to under six months, adding that some data previously collected on paper forms that were never analysed will be available for decision-making in three to four weeks e.g. student and teacher attendance data.
Data will also be transferred from the field using mobile data connections, or Wi-Fi connections at the Island Councils or senior secondary schools.
Mr Pontifex explained that while tablets use the internet to synchronize with MOE to receive questionnaire assignments and transmit the collected data, they do not need a continuous connection.
The collected data remains on the tablet until it is possible for the (IEC) Island Education Coordinator to reconnect to the internet and synchronize with the ministry. If internet services are broken for any reason the tablets will be returned to the ministry, where data is removed and the tablet reissued.
SPC is issuing 27 tablets to the MOE of which 18 will be issued to officials based in the outer islands. The remaining nine tablets will be held at the ministry for Tarawa-based Education officers who are responsible for the South Tarawa schools as needed and to ensure availability of tablets at headquarters that can also be used as replacements.
SPC is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting sustainable development since 1947. It is an intergovernmental development organisation owned and governed by its 26 country and territory members.