Saturday, June 11, 2016

SMART MONITORING OF SCHOOLS Digitization of data using Tablet PCs

This initiative is part of the Open Data Strategy of Government of the Punjab.
The Government of Punjab employs 950 monitoring officers across the Province. These officers act as an independent school monitoring layer for the Government, and are tasked with making spot-visits to its 52,695 public schools across the Punjab, each month.
During these spot-visits, data is collected on teacher presence, student enrolment and attendance, as well as availability of facilities such as clean drinking water, electricity, and toilets.
Public access to this data is now available online for free. Provincial and district level summaries are computed automatically based on data from actual forms submitted by the monitoring officers. Website visitors can navigate their way down to the actual forms submitted by the monitoring officers.

Watch video tutorial on how to navigate the open data website.
Soon you will also be able to subscribe for auto-alerts for data related to spot-visits, and will be able to cross-check the data, and build your own applications around it.
We encourage you to actively engage with this site and to give regular feedback - including evidence of any data inconsistencies or misreporting.

Navigating the real-time monitoring dashboard
Data on public schools can be accessed at http://www.open.punjab.gov.pk/schools. The home page provides links to real-time heat maps, monthly performance indicators, and annual comparison charts. Each section starts with a top-level provincial/district view, and allows website visitors to drill-down to tehsil, and individual school data.
Since the data is real-time collected in real-time, refreshing your browser periodically will display latest figures, based on ongoing spot-visits in the field.
Watch video tutorial on how to navigate the open data website.

Data collection methodology
The Program Monitoring and Implementation Unit (PMIU), School Education Department, employs 950 field officers. These officers act as an independent school monitoring layer for the Government of Punjab.
These field officers, known as Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEAs), visit the 52,695 public schools across Punjab, every month, and report key stats including student enrollment, teacher presence, and the availability of utilities, at the time of the visit.
In an effort to maintain fairness and to discourage collusion, district monitoring officers and PMIU re-assigns and shuffles schools to be visited by each MEA during different months. PMIU also regularly communicates with its field staff to ensure adherence to assigned schedules.
MEAs traditionally filled out extensive paper-based survey forms, associated with their spot-visits to schools. Data entry and analysis of these forms would subsequently be done via a lengthy process, involving several layers of officials in the field as well as the Center – and spanning several weeks.
Please note that the MEA monitoring mechanism is based upon monthly spot-visits to schools. Hence, data collected by MEAs is a snapshot of the status on the day of the visit. Some variation from School Census data, is therefore, expected.

Digitization of data using Tablet PCs
With the traditional process of filling paper based forms, officer accountability, data acquisition, and timely data analysis remained a constant challenge for PMIU.
In August 2014, PMIU and the School Education Department worked with PITB to equip MEAs with SIM-enabled tablet-PCs, allowing them to digitally submit forms in real-time, during their spot visits to schools. Tablet-PCs (with the school monitoring software application) have been provisioned for PMIUs 950 monitoring officers across all 36 districts of Punjab.
The benefits of the new monitoring mechanism have been enormous, and include real-time reporting with pictorial evidence, geo-tagging of sites visited, and automatic SMS alerts on below target performance.  A centralized dashboard provides access to consolidated information for timely trend analysis and decision making.
Most importantly, the School Education Department can now immediately identify which MEA performed a particular spot-visit – making field monitoring staff directly and timely accountable for the data that they submit.

Smart Monitoring
The tablet-pc based system has helped quell the debate on whether the monitoring officers are going for spot checks or not – since each visit is automatically geo-tagged by the application. This has helped improve MEA compliance to assigned schedules.
The tablet-based approach has also considerably reduced the amount of data-entry that MEAs have to do while filling out the visit form - since several fields such as school information, head-teacher information, and teacher lists are auto-populated once the MEA selects the school on his tablet.
This measure has helped reduce data-entry time and has made data acquisition less error-prone due to built-in validation checks. MEAs also submit pictorial evidence related to their school visits, via the tablet-PC application.
Almost half a million spot-visits to public schools have been processed and analyzed through the tablet-PC application, since August 2014. PMIU reviews and monitors all visit activity through a real-time, online reporting dashboard, with drill-down capability to access the actual form filled by the MEA during the spot visit.
The system also sends automatic SMS alerts to the concerned district administration and key officials of the School Education Department every evening - highlighting schools with low compliance (based on pre-defined thresholds for performance indicators).

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