August 2007

School Management : An Integrated Approach

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The quality of  learning that students experience at schools is of strategic importance for both their future and of the nation. To promote literacy, various schemes have been proposed by the Government of India such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, Mid-day meals, etc. Effective implementation of these schemes require concrete data periodically, based upon certain parameters, that enables authorities to assess the efficacy of the scheme in a transparent manner. Data management in schools is done primarily on paper. Monitoring of resource utilisation in schools is difficult as it is paper-based and has many bureaucratic hurdles. With growing number of students, data management is becoming laborious and error prone for both school as well as government authorities. It is arduous to gather, analyse and disseminate such vast amount of information through manual processes.

An ICT based solution will drastically improve school administrative operations(management of students, teachers, funds, operations scheduling etc.) by reducing latency in data management and makes the operations less error prone.

The article proposes a model that will provide a common platform for school management, which also support interfaces in regional languages. This has profound implications for stakeholders at higher levels as they wish to manage schools using a common interface.

“Education is the most important element for growth and prosperity of a nation. India is in the process of transforming itself into a developed nation by 2020.Yet we have 350 million people who need literacy and many more who have to acquire employable skills to suit the emerging modern India and globe. Children who belong to weaker sections of society are undernourished and only a small percentage of them manage to complete eight years of satisfactory education. We need to think specially for them.  ”
– Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

The strength and vitality of a nation emanates from its literate populace. Literacy begins from home and takes formal shape in schools. The schooling and elementary education are thus, the edifice on which the pillar of a healthy society are built and a nation of character stands.

India has large number of govt. schools across the country. A proper management and integration of these schools is a must to realize uniform benefits in a systematic manner. The management should follow a streamlined process that includes data collection, monitoring and performance evaluation. The process should be transparent and information should be visible to all decision makers and stakeholders at various levels. Continual monitoring is required
for capturing data reliably and correct analysis.

In different regions of the country, there exist various methods of school information management. These are largely paper based and work in a non-integrated way. This gives rise to opportunities for miscommunication, data tampering, time delays; in general it reduces the total effectiveness of the process. ICT solutions are one way of making the process transparent and integrated, giving global data visibility and effective decision-making.

Current System

The school system in India is composed of primary, upper primary and high schools. A collection of schools forms a cluster, clusters form a block, blocks are under a district, districts form a state and states form the country. Such hierarchy is useful in decentralizing the management of schools. Operational information of a school flows from lower levels to higher levels. In the process the information can be analysed before being presented to higher level for appropriate decision-making.

Schools are the fundamental units of operation within this education system. Data is generated through operational activities in a school. This data needs to be managed and school operational activities need to be monitored. The School administration consists of number of components. They are

1. Human resource management (Headmaster, Teaching Staff, Ministerial staff and menial staff, etc.)

2. Material equipment (Building, Furniture, Laboratory, Library), etc.

3. Preparation of curriculum, timetable, organisation of co-curricular activities, etc.

4. Minimal student and staff health records

5. Auxiliary services like Mid Day Meals, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, school uniforms and text-books

6. Evaluation of student achievement i.e., conducting tests and examinations, issues of progress reports and financing, preparation of budget, co-operation from the departmental authorities

7. Providing necessary statistical data to superiors on demand

Some issues with respect to the present flow of data are identified below

1. Most of the data collection is manual

2. Teachers have to concentrate more on register work as compared to academic activities

3. Chances of data manipulation at various levels before it reaches the destination

4. Data collection is expensive

5. It takes considerable amount of time for data to reach the destination

6. Problems in collection and distribution due to different data-capture formats

7. Lack of accountability at all levels

8. Fund and aid allocation and its usage is not transparent

9. Maintenance of huge amounts of data and its analysis is very difficult. This may affect the decision making process

School management and integration model

The model for management of school information and integration of schools across the country follows a layered approach. Each layer is dependent upon the layer below it. The lowermost layer defines a model which captures data to be managed and the uppermost layer provides interaction with the system.

It has the following three layers

1. Data Model

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