Aditya Shankar, Programme Associate, Community Systems Foundation
In late October 2022, Community Systems Foundation’s OpenEMIS Project Officer, Stephanie Betancourt traveled to Aruba to provide direct training to a team from the Department of Education Aruba (DEA). The OpenEMIS trainings aimed to strengthen the department’s ability to administer and use OpenEMIS.
The training was a part of CSF’s multi-year partnership with the DEA. In 2019, just before the onset of the COVID19 pandemic, OpenEMIS technical staff had visited Aruba to conduct a needs analysis on the current EMIS and to plan with government officials how OpenEMIS would be deployed to meet data requirements of the education section. The needs assessment provided detailed requirements to inform the configuration of OpenEMIS for the DEA.
While work continued, activities were slowed as school closed, regrouped and reoriented to deliver education in the face of adversity.
The DEA has envisioned OpenEMIS to provide timely data for decision-making by Education planners and school administrators. CSF was tasked to configure and deploy the national education management information system and build capacity to ensure the designated staff at DEA had the knowledge and capacity to manage and administer the system effectively.
The Aruba education system is based on the Dutch system. OpenEMIS was configured to match the structure of the education system and the language requirements of the department.
The recent OpenEMIS trainings were conducted with department technical officers responsible for the management and use of OpenEMIS. Members from the Central Statistics, Inspectorate, School Board of the Department of Education took part in the training to familiarize with the application to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the current management system.
The OpenEMIS Professional training sessions assisted officials of the DEA in using the core features of OpenEMIS. It laid a good foundation for technical officers that are implementing OpenEMIS in improving Aruba’s education management system. This training assisted officials who will be responsible for collection of school level information such as student attendance, student progression through grades and subjects, school infrastructure management and other important modules.
OpenEMIS Administrator Training aimed to ensure designated officers understood the core functions of OpenEMIS as a national management information system. The training provided knowledge transfer that would allow technical administrators from the DEA to configure OpenEMIS to match the educational structure and processes in Aruba. The training also showcased the software’s applicability in different scenarios.
Over 11 days, the OpenEMIS trainings built the capacities of 14 individuals who participated in the Professional training course and another 7 who joined the Administrator training. CSF was able to tackle a several key queries in regards to adopting OpenEMIS and was able to improve DEA representatives' understanding of key OpenEMIS features. At the conclusion of the workshops, participants proved able to leverage OpenEMIS to collect and manage education data from across the country.
The mission also provided an opportunity for Stephanie to deliver direct technical assistance in areas of concern to the DEA. Due to the complexities of the education system in Aruba, especially in regards to the classification of grade subject formats and methods, department staff were eager to explore potential integration of OpenEMIS with the learning management system used by the department and to rationalize an approach to data migration into OpenEMIS. Another key challenge was addressing duplicate data and student records. OpenEMIS is equipped with reports that highlight possible duplicated data and other data quality issues. With this information, administrators have a more efficient way to address data quality issues.
The entire CSF team remains optimistic about the future of OpenEMIS in Aruba, as the country steps towards modern data systems to address the learning needs of all its students.