Tuesday November 20 2012

IT developer unlocks school app for parents

Mr Ivan Sserunkuma (L)illustrates how the

Mr Ivan Sserunkuma (L)illustrates how the schools apps work. photo by Abubaker Lubowa 


You can now keep tabs on your child’s performance and discipline records electronically, thanks to two applications: Package for School Management (PSM) and my Child.

This was informed by the need to use his technology knowledge acquired from school to change the way things are done.
Mr Ivan Sserunkuma, an IT professional and project manager said the notion of developing this world-class school management solution was conceived by Ronald K. Sebuhinja during his student days at Makerere University and PSM only came to maturity after a couple of false starts.

“This idea came from Ronald. He had a dream to change the way schools run. He mobilised some funds and we started a company (SchoolMaster Solutions) in 2011. But the application was developed and first used in 2007,” Mr Sserunkuma said.

“We have since 2007 been using the PSM application to manage students’ performance and discipline records electronically. The application can be customised to your specific school needs,” Mr Barnabas Langoya, the deputy headmaster of Namilyango College, the first school to use Package for School Management (PSM) told Prosper magazine.

Mr Langoya’s experience is shared by several other school administrators. In less than two years after it was officially launched, PSM is already used by several schools.

The schools
The schools include Mt. St Mary’s College Namagunga, Namilyango College, Uganda Martyrs S.S.S Namugongo, Turkish Light Academy, Bishop Cipriano Kihangire S.S.S, St Kizito SSS Bugolobi, Caltec Academy Makerere, City High School, Teso College Aloet, Paul Mukasa SS Kigunga, Kigezi Cleverland High School, Vienna College Namugongo, World Ahead SSS Matugga, Emma High School, Watoto SS Nakirebe, Watoto SS Bbira and Victorious Education Services among others.

The fee
Each school pays Shs1.5 million to acquire a non-renewable license to use this application, Shs600,000 higher than Shs900, 000 that was charged at the launch of the application in 2011. The fixed fee is in addition to the Shs90,000 each school pays per term as support fees if any is required.

PSM is a set of software tools designed for the efficient management of Primary and Secondary schools. It brings all the advantages of electronic data storage and processing to schools by automating hitherto manual tasks and routines and providing instant access to all relevant school information to school administrators and staff.

PSM users have consistently praised the software for its easy-to-use and beautifully crafted, responsive user interface.
“It facilitates the management of the students’ school life: registration and storage of bio-data, records of discipline, health, co-curricular activities, roll-calls, library activity, academic performance and student finance tracking,” Mr Sserunkuma said.
He added: “All the information collected during the operation of the system can be utilised in several ways, notably the printing of termly report cards, defaulters’ lists and student finance status.”

Mr Ronald Sebuhinja, the brain child and financier of the company, says that while it is an expensive and time consuming venture, his team is focused on improving parents’ experience as the priority rather than the profits.
“We have been investing more than Shs2 million every month for now 18 months. The investment is over Shs40 million. We also want to showcase the Ugandan technology potentials. Profits will come along the way.”

Mr Sserunkuma’s team also faces challenges mainly from different schools failure to take decisions on whether to take up the application or not.
“You can travel to a school six times, without the administrators deciding on whether they will take up the app or not. This is costly for us,” explaining why they recently increased their charges to Shs1.5 million.”
Minus PSM, the SchoolMaster Solution has designed another application: myChild. The application can provide advanced analytics to help parents assess the true performance of their children.

“For myChild, we developed software that extracts the relevant child-specific information and post it on-line. The software also automatically creates users accounts for the parents (usernames and passwords) and this account information is relayed to the parents via SMS and/or E-Mail,” Mr Sserunkuma said.
He added: “In addition, we hope to inspire the developers’ community to put creativity to work.”

The SchoolMaster Solution team is comprised of other people. These are Wilson Kiggundu (web developer) and Davis Agaba (mobile developer), Emmanuel Ssebagala and Ambrose Mayonza (developers), Allan C. Wajega (intern developer) and Sam Mushabe (intern QA, sales & support).