The education system in Pakistan, particularly the public system of education is plagued by the issues of ghost schools, absent teachers, fake enrollments, and out of school children. Therefore in order to improve the government education system the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) rolled out a series of IT systems for monitoring schools, computerizing school enrolment and ensuring teacher presence.
Explaining the system in an article in the Express Tribune, Dr. Umar Saif Chairman PITB states “Our system works on computer tablets, enabling close to 1,300 monitoring officers to randomly visit schools each month and report data about school facilities, teacher presence and student attendance. The data is geo-tagged (using the tablet’s GPS system), and must be submitted from the vicinity of the school to be accepted by our system. The report must also include geo-tagged pictures of the attendance register and the head teacher, as well as a selfie of the monitoring officer, as evidence of the visit. In the last four years, over 1.9 million inspection reports have been uploaded in the system.”
Furthermore, he states that Alif Ailaan has found this monitoring data to be in 93% correlation with their independent assessments.
In order to be fully transparent and enable all stakeholders to hold the government accountable, PITB will be soon making the data available in real-time. The data will be available at http://open.punjab.gov.pk/schools/. Along with real-time data, the website will also give one comparisons of previous years to track progress and link to the official school census data.
The system established by PITB according to Dr. Umar is also to measure Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). When visiting schools the monitoring officer is mandated to conduct a pop quiz of 7-10 students using another testing application on their tablets.
He writes that, “The quiz is generated by automatic test generation software, populated with millions of multiple-choice questions devised to measure 17 students learning outcomes from the government’s official curriculum. Currently focused on grade 3 students to measure their learning and numeracy, over 35 million tablet-based spot tests have been conducted by our monitoring officers, and the data is uploaded in real-time to our system.”
The system has said to almost wipe Punjab clean of ghost schools and has improved the performance and transparency of the public schools in the region. However, a key challenge remains on how to ensure uniform teaching quality by 400,000 teachers in over 52,000 schools across Punjab?
Therefore to address this pressing challenge, PITB took its inspiration from the online teaching platform Khan Academy to develop their own repository of learning content which teachers can use to achieve uniform teaching quality.
They worked with Punjab Textbook Board for the past three years to digitize the textbooks used in schools. A team from PITB and the Information Technology University (ITU) digitized all Science and Mathematics books from grades 6 to 12. According to Dr Umar in his article, till date, 13,047 videos, 592 simulations, 2,100 minutes of audio lectures and 1,830 animations have been added to 21 Science and Mathematics books. To provide access to the schools with the material, each Mathematics and Science teacher has been given a computer tablet with pre-loaded e-learning content, and an LCD screen is installed in a classroom. To evaluate their program, PITB has a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) in 60 schools in Punjab. The one-year study is soon to be published in a research paper. Furthermore, they are also working on taking this module to up to 800 schools in Punjab.