The Ministry of Education, earlier this year, had announced the implementation of a program called the OPEN Education Management Information System or OPEN EMIS which is intended to be used in schools to collect data on its students, teachers and schools. This data collection will be available for the ministry in order for them to carry out proper assessments, as explained by the Education Minister, Patrick Faber.
” It is to make sure that we gather information accurately. For a long time we used to make decisions without proper information and so this allows those who are involved in education to input very important data so that we are able to make informed decisions once we have the task of making decisions about education and that it is not based on what we feel to be the case or some kind of emotional outburst coming out of one particular sector we want to make sure that it is data driven decision making that goes on in the Ministry of education and that is why we are taking the time to train all the stakeholders who are able to give us that information particularly our ministry officials and of course the school leadership that are involved in giving us those very important pieces of information. It’s demographic, it’s information about where the needs are in terms of providing educational opportunities, where it is being provided so that we are able to identify where the gaps might be coming from. We want to know of course who is not being served so that we are able to address those kinds of needs but it will also help us to target our spending to make sure that we understand fully well where we need to put monies ,where the holes and the gaps may be. That kind of thing.”
As with any new program or system, there needs to be training for those who will be utilizing it. That training took place today on the EP Yorke compound. Love News spoke with Felix Sutherland, Principal of St. John’s Vianney School, who told us about the database program.
“The Ministry of Education has embarked on making information more accessible to all involved as a result we have the two day training sessions for principals and other administrators along with other secretaries who will input the information needed. Input of data, how to manipulate the program and how to input that so that whenever we begin in September we don’t have much pain because it’s a novel initiative that will be implemented in September.”
Sutherland told us how the database program will improve the school systems.
“Open EMIS will certainly assist everybody involved in education since it will provide immediate access to information. For example at Love FM during those rainy days parents would be calling and asking schools if there would be any classes. On a rainy day after we upload our attendance for that day Ministry of Education could just zoom in on our attendance for that day and would therefore could immediately inform us that it’s best for us to call school based on our attendance so it’s automatic, it’s current and I am sure that after we begin using it, it will be easy.”
Martin Aldana, Education Planner of the Policy and Planning unit at the Ministry of Education told us why they thought the program was important to implement in the school systems and he also told us what the major goal of the program is.
“It’s an initiative that Ministry has embarked on since a year ago, it’s a project funded through the IDB where we are deploying a database called Open Imis for use by schools in Belize. The goal is to enhance access to data for example right now a lot of information is exchanged between schools and the ministry either by hard copies of reports or through spreadsheets. However the idea of the database is to have school store information electronically about their students and teachers and their schools and then that database could be accessed by the Ministry so it facilitates the exchange of information between schools and the ministry.”
Ministry officers, principals, teachers, and staff can login to view their personal profiles and manage data about schools online. Researchers, citizens, and families can view the latest education. The training this week is being held in Belize, Corozal and Cayo districts. Next week the training will be held in OrangeWalk and Stann Creek and Toledo.