When senior management within Papua New Guinea’s Department of Education (DOE) began asking for access to the department’s Educational Management Information System (EMIS), the IT staff was pleased, but equally concerned.
“We knew they needed quick access to education data and statistics, for policy-making and decision-making,” explained Karl Turnbull, Information Systems, Communication and Technology (ICT) Advisor, AusAID Education Program, DOE. “However, EMIS is a technically complex statistical system, which senior management would definitely find difficult to use and understand. So we needed a better way for them to access the data.”
However, several months after the workshop, Mr. Turnbull and his colleagues began considering whether DevInfo could meet the department’s need for a better way to provide senior management with access to key data. Intrigued by the possibilities, Mr. Turnbull accepted the challenge of creating a DevInfo database using the most relevant and reliable DOE data: information published in the department’s annual Statistical Bulletins, dating back to 1997.
Next, he set out to make the database available to all DOE staff located throughout the far-reaching corners of the country, using the DevInfo 6.0 Web application. “Those of us in the IT department agreed that we didn’t want to be in the position of having to create and distribute multiple CDs every time we updated the database,” shared Mr. Turnbull. “That would prove difficult in terms of support. So we decided that a web-based platform would better suit our requirements.”
Creating the actual DevInfo web data tool turned out to be surprisingly easy. “We simply followed the instructions in theuser guideto install the
The final product – the PNG EducationInfo database – was launched on DOE intranet near the end of 2010. Accessible to all DOE staff through the department’s website, the database contains the official education statistics verified and approved by DOE pertaining to the nation’s students, teachers, schools, and key education indicators on access, retention, and quality of education.
The online database is being increasingly well-received by DOE staff. Some within senior DOE management have not only begun regularly using it themselves, but are also actively promoting its use within the department. The DevInfo database has been positioned as a complement to the existing EMIS, as the primary tool for data reporting and dissemination.
Says Thomas Podarua, Acting ICT Manager, DOE, “Not only do senior DOE staff now have access to the department’s data, but they are able to use it better. In EMIS, all the data is in table format, which can be limiting. Now they can also generate graphs and maps.”
The database was also featured prominently in a workshop held recently to address gender equity issues within the nation’s education system. Organized for members of DOE’s Accelerating Gender Equity through Education National Steering Committee, the workshop focused on using this education database to identify and present gender disparities in education.
Adds Mr. Turnbull with a smile, “Now when DOE officials talk with other government departments or with outside donors, we have confidence that they are all using the same data.”
Data making a difference.
For more information, please contact Karl Turnbull, Advisor, ICT, AusAID Education Program, PNG Department of Education, atKarl_Turnbull@educationpng.gov.pgor Thomas Podarua, Acting ICT Manager, PNG Department of Education, atThomas_Podarua@educationpng.gov.pg