Mobile Software Used To Monitor Education In Ghana

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Camfed volunteers are using mobile software to monitor the management of educational resources in Ghana

Parts of Ghana’s education system are being made more open and transparent using mobile technology, as part of a project instigated by the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed).

Camfed is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to eradicating poverty in Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of young women. Camfed has been working in Ghana since 1998 and, with the help of the Ministry of Education, has reached 50,000 children in the Northern Region, as well as training over 2,000 women in economic and life skills.

With funding from the Ajahma Charitable Trust, Camfed is building an “end-to-end digitalised data collection and analysis system”, designed to give communities the tools and the skills to track resources, monitor education quality and demand accountability from government and schools through the use of live data.

Tracking expenditure with EpiSurveyor

Using EpiSurveyor phone software, volunteers are able to go into schools and gather data from parents, teachers and pupils about the resources they are receiving – such as uniform, footwear and books – as well as information on performance and attendance. Data is fed back in real time to a Salesforce database, accessible by regional managers, who can analyse the data and examine trends.

“The mobile solution, underpinned by Salesforce CRM, is helping to transform the speed of decision making and the trust we have in the data,” said Dan Luton, Camfed’s programme manager for IT and data analysis. “We effectively have a live data feed on the girls’ performance.”

“It allows us to track expenditure on individual girls’ entitlements and ensure that all items reach their designated target whilst following up on any irregularities – we can be certain that any money sent in the field is used for its appropriate purposes,” he added.

Following a successful pilot of the technology in Zambia, Ghana was chosen for the initial roll-out, because network coverage in rural areas is good, and Camfed Ghana is already using SMS to communicate with schools and volunteers in this region.

Camfed Ghana selected members of each of the 14 district education committees earlier this year, as well as volunteers from Camfed’s young women’s network (Cama), to train in the phone technology. Each trained volunteer visits the Camfed partner schools in their districts and collects information on a termly basis.

According to Charles Atia, Camfed’s head of operations in Tamale, North Ghana, the district officials complete the mobile questionnaires on behalf of teachers, collecting data on performance, attendance and mentoring of the girls. Meanwhile, the female Cama members are given the responsibility of interviewing the Camfed beneficiaries.

“The girls feel more comfortable talking to the Cama members, as they have something in common,” Atia (pictured) told eWEEK Europe. “It is also exciting and empowering for the young women to use this software.”

As well as improving reliability of data collection and submission, the project helps to broaden the volunteers’ understanding of technology, which is useful in other areas of their life, explained Atia. Camfed is now beginning to roll out the project in Zambia, and will extend it to other countries from 2012.

Camfed ICT centres

Meanwhile. Camfed has teamed up with tech giant Google to establish a network of three ICT centres in Northern Ghana, which will act as hubs for learning, communication and entrepreneurship in some of the poorest and most remote rural regions.

The centres will contain computers, printers, photocopiers and digital cameras, as well as a small library of political, fiction and business texts. They will be connected to the Internet and managers will provide regular training sessions for members of the community.

“We hope the community members will be in a position where they’re celebrating the achievements of the young women to get to this stage,” said Catherine Boyce, Camfed’s head of enterprise and leadership. “That’s really the cornerstone of the success of our projects.”

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