Technology: Smart management of teachers

photo

Students in a smart classroom. The teachers not able to access the internet or a computer can send their updated information through schools with smart classes . (Lydia Atieno)

In the past, Joel Habimana, the head teacher of GS Apega in Gahengeri, Rwamagana District, says new teachers who had been transferred to his school always faced difficulties adjusting to the new environment.

He says some of them would even get paid twice without the knowledge of their employers.

But thanks to a new software which captures and manages details of teachers, these challenges could be a thing for the past. The software, for instance, captures personal details like qualifications, experience, training attendance and many others. This is expected to help in managing teachers across the country.

Rwanda Education Board (REB), last year developed the teacher’s data management information system (TMIS), which is mainly for teacher registration and licensing. According to officials, this is in line with implementation of presidential order Nº 24/01 establishing special statutes governing teachers in nursery, primary and secondary education.

The project, which started last year, is still ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of this fiscal year.

According to Habimana, there has been a problem with some teachers not being recognised as permanent employees, but with the registration, he believes all teachers will be secured and treated better just like any other public servant.

At his school, the registration exercise has been completed with just few steps left to clear the whole process of registration process.

For Monica Tumukunde, the head teacher of ES Kanombe EFOTEC in Kicukiro District, the system will improve the quality of education.

For instance, she says the software will enable them to get rid of people employed as teachers without the required qualifications.

“This challenge has been affecting some institutions because such teachers could not deliver effectively to students due to lack of skills and knowledge. With this software, I believe such cases will be no more. The ones working without proper qualifications will be laid off or given some training depending on what they are missing,” says Tumukunde.

What is expected?

According to Claudien Nzitabakuze, the head of the Teacher Education Management and Professionalisation Department at REB, with the data base, it’s easier to track what is going on, especially in cases where a teacher retires or goes for maternity leave.

With help from the district, he says they will be able to get updated information about teachers.

Nzitabakuze says they have already started registration, which was successfully piloted in two districts of Rwamagana and Kicukiro.

This month, he says REB is planning to embark on the other districts so that all teachers’ details are captured.

According to REB, the software will also aid in monitoring teacher turnover, whereas for districts and school owners, it is expected to create a pool of qualified and recognised teachers they can hire from.

“Most of the time people don’t know which statistics are reliable, but with this new software, there will be reliable statistics on the teachers all over the country. This will ease the process of planning, for instance, how many teachers are needed in a specific area and so on,” he says.

Nzitabakuze also says it will help in building the capacity of teachers.

“The data will reflect each teacher’s level of training. So, during preparations for refresher trainings, they will analyse the data from the software to establish who ought to get more training,” he says.

Licensing

According to REB, all nursery, primary and secondary school staff will be licensed by one central competent institution, with every serving staff possessing a license card with a unique license number.

Also, school staff who quit abruptly will not have their license renewed. Districts and school owners will also be sure that the teachers they will hire fulfill all the requirements.

Challenges

Although the software comes with more advantages, Nzitabakuze says there are a few challenges with the new system.

He notes that the major problem is the internet connectivity.

“The system is computer web-based which requires the internet to function. It’s a challenge for some areas that have a problem of internet connection and those that don’t have it completely to access the service,” he says.

However, Nzitabakuze says they are expecting to solve this challenge by making use of the 500 smart classrooms across the country which are expected to be fully operational soon.

“The teachers that will not be able to access the internet or computer can use the opportunity of the smart class in case they are already installed in their school or the nearest school,” he says.

Nzitabakuze says the other challenge was to collect academic documents from the teachers.

“However, since we have some primary information on teachers in the software, teachers’ work will be to fill in their identification number, which will help them access the software to fill in the remaining details,” he says.