Anti-school absenteeism project fails to take off
Posted Saturday, March 23 2013 at 02:00
The project, which was expected to start on February 4, has been delayed due to failure to purchase equipment.
The Ministry of Education programme, which was supposed to check the perennial absenteeism of teachers and students in schools using new computer technology, has failed to takeoff as planned following a delay in procurement of equipment.
The $2.9m (about Shs7.8b) project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), was supposed to start in 1,800 schools, both primary and secondary on February 4 when the new school term opened.
Mr Patrick Muinda, the assistant commissioner in-charge of communication and information at the ministry, confirmed the delay in a recent interview, blaming it on the ‘long bureaucratic procurement processes’.
“It was our wish to have this new software installed by the beginning of the new term but the procurement process took longer than expected,” he said adding, “we can’t blame it on Usaid, who are funding the project but the good news is that the equipment has arrived and verification is going to be done and later distributed to the schools.”
He said the technology will first be tested and schools are expected to start using it at the beginning of second term.
The programme dubbed: “District Education Management Information System, is expected to instantly link critical school data such as teacher and student attendance directly from schools into the National Education Management Information System at the Education ministry.
According to the implementation plan, each school under the pilot programme, which are connected to the national power grid, will use computers to enter the data while those without electricity will use smart phones and short message service (SMS).
With the technology, Mr Muinda said it would be easier for the ministry to know what is going on in schools, districts which would provide them with relevant and functional information for planning, management and evaluation of the sector at the school, district and national levels.
The Education ministry has been blamed for doing nothing about teacher and pupil absenteeism in the government free education programme and through its annual school census it had failed to address absenteeism and ghosts in schools .
A 2009 report by a Dutch agency, SNV, ranked teacher absenteeism in Uganda as the highest in the world at 35 per cent.
Mr Joseph Eilor, the assistant commissioner for education planning, said in a recent interview that the software has also been successfully piloted in countries such as Mauritius, Botswana and Swaziland. A similar initiative is proving effective in Kenya, where the government partnered with local mobile service providers, he added.