Rakkshet Singhaal, Programme Associate, Community Systems Foundation
Seth Davis, Programme Advisor, Community Systems Foundation
From her home in Belize and through her travels across the world, Stephanie Betancourt has supported the growing OpenEMIS community around the world. And through that experience and her growing expertise, she has become a vital part of the Community Systems Foundation (CSF) delivery team.
Before joining CSF in 2016, Stephanie worked with a youth organization that provided children and youth training in website development and graphic design. This experience gave Stephanie her start in software and technology, data visualization, and graphic design which has translated into her role in supporting education officials around the world in configuring and rolling out OpenEMIS.
Stephanie first joined CSF as a Project Officer in Belize to support an ongoing system reform initiative which included the deployment of OpenEMIS. Her initial responsibilities with CSF were in coordination and compiling clean national education data. In this position, she offered system support to various stakeholders, including government officials from the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, and ensured the sustainability of the project through direct capacity development. With Stephanie's support, the Belize education sector saw a shift from a traditional EMIS that relied on a paper-based system to a fully online OpenEMIS system that allowed the Ministry to collect and utilize education data more efficiently and effectively to make evidence-based decisions.
Over her tenure at CSF, Stephanie’s role has grown from national officer to regional focal point for OpenEMIS implementation in the Caribbean region and global OpenEMIS trainer. Stephanie has directly supported OpenEMIS rollout in Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, and Turks & Caicos. In recent years, she has supported and led training in Malawi, South Africa, Jordan, and the Solomon Islands.
In doing so, she has seen first-hand how the OpenEMIS Community benefits all implementing countries. For example, the Ministry in Turks & Caicos supported the development of features to monitor scholarship recipients studying abroad. This feature, OpenEMIS Scholarships, is now available for all countries implementing OpenEMIS.
Like all of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Stephanie is able to work and engage with development partners. However, she has risen to the challenge and has demonstrated her dedication to the OpenEMIS Initiative. Stephanie now spends her days (and sometimes nights!) providing direct technical assistance and training virtually, ensuring continuous knowledge transfer and system sustainability.
Through her experience, Stephanie recognizes ongoing development challenges that may hinder in strengthening education systems, such as the capacity gaps present in government agencies and limited infrastructure - including connectivity, particularly in rural settings. But she has also seen the impact of strong commitment and leadership from high-level government authorities to improve education data management and use in their countries.
By supporting countries day-to-day with the challenges they face related to education data management, Stephanie enables governments to better college, manage and use critical education data, improving outcomes, and supporting learners, especially those that are most vulnerable, in communities and institutions around the world.