The United Nations Children’s Fund's (UNICEF’s) modernised School Report Card System has been lauded as a good initiative for improving teacher availability, regularity, punctuality and performance in the implementing districts.
The modernised system, known as the Mobile School Report Card (MSRC), is a smart mobile phone application developed locally to facilitate the collection of data, particularly on teacher regularity and performance, technologically.
The new integrated smart phone platform is expected to replace the current manual system in future to enhance teacher regularity and performance monitoring in the country.
Stakeholders of the UNICEF’s MSRC, including heads of 97 schools in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) District in the Central Region and the KEEA District Education Office, who lauded the initiative, underscored the need for the initiative to be adopted nationwide to enhance teacher supervision as part of measures to boost academic performance.
Currently, UNICEF is piloting the MSRC in 729 schools in 10 selected districts in Ghana, in partnership with the Ghana Education Service (GES).
The selected districts include Garu Tempane, Wa East, Karachi East, KEEA and Savelugu Nanton.
Other districts are Kwahu Afram Plains North, Tolon, Ga East, Upper West Akyem and Upper Denkyira West.
So far, UNICEF has provided 1,367 tablets with screen protectors worth US$ 400,000 to facilitate the implementation of the MSRC initiative.
A major benefit of the new application is its ability to collect data about schools from various systems by stakeholders such as community members, teachers and circuit supervisors, and return aggregated data in a quick and efficient manner to education authorities.
The MSRC uses a locally developed mobile phone application to gather data on teacher punctuality and performance, among other information about schools on a daily basis.
The headteachers and circuit supervisors, with the aid of the tablets provided by UNICEF, collect the data by supervising the teachers and sending the data through the Internet to the GES’s district, regional and national head offices with a click of a button on a weekly basis.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic during a UNICEF tour of some implementing schools in the KEEA District last Tuesday, the Coordinator for MSRC at the KEEA District Education office, Mr Isaac Opoku-Inkoom, said the benefits of the system could not be over-emphasised.
Mr Opoku-Inkoom was optimistic that the current monitoring system was having an impact on academic performance.
However, he was quick to add that KEEA had begun a scientific research into the impact of the MSRC on academic performance.
He said teacher availability, punctuality and overall performance in terms of writing lesson notes and delivering them on time had improved drastically in the MSRC implementing districts.
He submitted that the initiative had also saved the implementing district education offices the productive time and energy which hitherto was used to enter the data collected by headteachers and circuit supervisors for terms one and three into the GES database.
According to Mr Opoku-Inkoom, “Prior to the implementation of the policy, data officers at the various district education offices had to enter manually all data received from all schools in the district into the national database, which was cumbersome, a waste of energy and time-demanding.”
Additionally, he said, the mobile application offered GES authorities the platform to interact with headteachers and circuit supervisors, particularly on the performance of teachers based on the information received promptly.
He submitted that the system had sealed all loopholes for teacher absenteeism and non-performance in the implementing districts because the teachers knew they were under strict weekly supervision from the national headquarters.
The Headteacher of Dabir-Benyadzi- Egyei M/A Primary, Mrs Phyllistina Mensah, said the MSRC had made teacher monitoring and performance very effective and easier and put teachers on their toes to deliver.
However, she appealed to the government to enhance Internet connectivity nationwide to help boost the implementation of the MSRC, which, she said, she was optimistic would enhance academic performance, particularly in the rural areas.
Making a contribution, the Headteacher of the Akotobinsin Methodist Primary, Mrs Janet Biney, shared the same view as her colleagues.
She described the system as very efficient and time-saving.
The initiative is expected to replace the current manual system known as the Ghana School Report Card, which had been described as a cumbersome and time-demanding mode of school and teacher performance data collection.
The GES, in 2012, introduced a school report card system to make it possible to monitor the teachers, school performance and attendance of teachers, pupils and students.
The ultimate goal for the introduction of the card was to improve teaching and learning and promote accountability and performance in education.