SEATTLE — Due to 20 years of civil unrest, 7,000 schools in Sindh, Pakistan’s second-largest province, have been abandoned or destroyed since the early 1990s. Despite efforts to repair the education system in Sindh and other cities, there are still challenges when it comes to access to education in Pakistan: lack of facilities, poor infrastructure and decreasing student and teacher attendance. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is working with the World Bank Group and the Sindh government on a technological solution to Pakistan’s growing education problems – The Sindh School Monitoring System.
The World Bank Group implemented The Sindh School Monitoring System in 15 districts, including some rural areas in Sindh that lack access to basic facilities such as water and latrines. The GPE-funded program addresses enrollment, administrative issues and teacher and student attendance. All of the data collected allows the Education and Literacy Department to take administrative action when needed.
In short, the system keeps all members of a school accountable and makes for a more efficient and effective school system. The Sindh School Monitoring System is part of the Sindh Global Partnership for Education project. The project supports government efforts to reform education in Pakistan over a period of three years. The end goal: To use biometric technology to identify and enroll more than 150,000 Pakistani teachers in Sindh schools.
Fazlullah Pechuco, former secretary of the Education and Literacy Department in Sindh, said “the Sindh School Monitoring System brings together technology and a robust accountability mechanism to address long-standing governance issues in education.” The Sindh government has never used technology before as a monitoring tool.
The monitoring system is biometric and uses fingerprints as well as GPS to monitor schools and teachers. The Pakistan Education Department hired 225 monitors, or data collection officers, to monitor the initial 15 districts. Monitors use mobile identity technology — the Integrated Biometrics’ Columbo single-finger scanner — to identify and verify the location of teachers and administrators registered in a database.
Pakistan’s Education Department assigns each monitor to a cluster of schools based on where they live. It takes monitors about a month to collect data from each school, visiting three schools a day. The biometric device is paired with smartphone technology to collect data on facilities, administration and student and teacher attendance. Teacher attendance has been a pressing issue in Pakistan. Many employed teachers do not show up for class, leaving their students without formal access to education. As a result, sometimes data collection officers will sit in on classes to make sure students are receiving the education they need.
The data collected immediately goes to a central dashboard. Here, the World Bank and the Education and Literacy Department can access it in real time. So far, monitors have profiled more than 210,000 teachers and administrators in more than 26,200 schools. In the past seven years, officials assigned approximately 2,000 new teachers to primary schools.
This system has increased the number of children with access to education in Pakistan. Officials at the Sindh Department of Education want to appoint 6,700 more headmasters in the next two years. Officials hope that improving administration in schools will improve outcomes for all in the Sindh educational system.
– Rachel Cooper