SMS system for monitoring school data making good progress

An SMS service that delivers regular updates of enrolment, attendance and visits in schools to relevant authorities is making healthy progress in Pakistan.

Tribune.com.pk says the country’s Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education (L&NFBE) board has launched a system which requires teachers from 4,000 non-formal schools to send through information on their classes.

While the sole purpose of this exercise is to improve the quality of schools through the use of data, the L&NFBE hopes to develop a two-way service that allows teachers to provide feedback on some of the problems they face.

It’s not known whether a similar system will be rolled out in Britain and other countries, although a successful trial period in Pakistan could force the Department for Education to take note of the developments.

For now, L&NFBE system analyst Irum Malik is just happy that the trial is up and running following a number of complications. These included training teachers to send SMS in the correct format.

“They would make errors like typing the letter ‘O’ instead of the number zero,” she said.

“By December last year, the teachers began sending in regular texts in the correct format.”

The department now receives nearly 4,000 SMS messages every single day, while teachers that fail to send their daily texts are given a reminder requesting their response.

The L&NFBE has now set its sights on being able to make more out of the data by developing a data analysis mechanism to draw qualitative conclusions from the information coming through.

There’s also a hope that donors will be able to provide mobile phones to increase the response from teachers, but Ms Malik told silobreaker.com this is easier said than done.

“We can encourage but cannot force them since the initiative is based on self-help and teachers are our partners in making it work,” she added.