DCDJ Data Fellows addressed data use and training needs within the Ministry of National Education in Côte d’Ivoire and supported the development of requirements for an Education Management Information System (EMIS).
The Des Chiffres et Des Jeunes (DCDJ) Data Fellowship is DCDJ’s flagship program, placing technically-trained Ivorian youth into organizations and government ministries where they encourage and increase the degree to which data is used for decision making. It is a unique opportunity for young people to sharpen data skills while contributing to a strengthened data ecosystem in Côte d’Ivoire. DCDJ is a program led by Development Gateway and funded by the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact (DCLI) program.
Seven DCDJ Data Fellows – Bagayan Abdramane, Bazie Yann, Cherif Aidara, Coulibaly Na’Guaissa, Dougban Monsia, Nichi Pierre Arsene, and Ouattara Drissa – were assigned to the Ministère de L’Education Nationale, de l’Enseignement Technique et de la Formation Professionnelle (MENET-FP)’s Direction des Technologies et des Systèmes d’Information (DTSI) during their internships to provide technical support in centralizing and manipulating reliable data.
MENET-FP manages huge amounts of education and training data across its 19 departments. To consolidate, track, and increase the effectiveness of education data, in line with the country’s ten-year Education Action Plan. The DTSI department within MENET-FP has been tasked with the challenge of developing an education management information system (EMIS), an activity under the Secondary Education Project funded by the ongoing MCC Compact in Côte d’Ivoire, and specifically aimed at centralizing data across all MENET-FP departments into a single, cohesive source. The EMIS is also important for other activities under the Compact such as the construction of about 80 new secondary schools where educational outcomes will need to be tracked and managed for optimum impact.
Upon beginning their internships at DTSI, the Fellows immediately identified a need to improve data sharing data across the Ministry’s departments. With the current system, DTSI requests data – on schools’ performance, specific teaching staff, and ongoing education reforms, etc. – from the other departments over email or in-person. These requests could take anywhere from a week to a month to be received and processed. Fellows also suspected that this issue was affecting progress of the above-referenced EMIS.
The Fellows also found that most field surveys conducted by DTSI officers were done using physical questionnaires, resulting in slow data processing, complicated management, and data entry errors.
To further investigate MENET-FP’s data centralization and data sharing issues, the Fellows visited neighborhood schools and regional education offices, called DRENs (Regional Directorate of National Education), in Abidjan wards 1, 3, 4. They assessed regional data collection processes, and showcased and discussed potential digital solutions. In visiting neighborhood schools, Fellows understood data at the school level and how – and in what format – it flows towards the DRENs, then to its ultimate destination with DTSI.
Understanding the data flow from school-level to national-level helped Fellows see where data bottlenecks lie, and provide information that is critical to the development of a viable EMIS based on existing types of local (school level) data sources, data collection formats – as wells that the specific needs and capabilities of DREN officials.
After assessments of the neighborhood schools and regional education offices, the Fellows leveraged open source applications to come up with digital solutions. The Data Fellows proposed new methods of data collection based on DREN data collection officers’ needs. They introduced Tableau as a new way of visualizing data and creating dashboards, and conducted in-person introductory training sessions to the tools, working with partners to ensure they understand the benefits of the tool and can use them independently.
By addressing data flow bottlenecks and developing tools to address them, the Fellows helped local data reach DTSI more quickly – and helped DTSI speed up the EMIS development process. Data Fellows also prepared an external Recommendations Report for DTSI on the data collection challenges impeding the progress of the EMIS project.
Outcomes and Impacts
One DTSI official said: “This project has helped with gaining time and efficiency – having better data flow and more timely exchange from the schools to the DRENs on the one hand, and from the DRENs to the Ministry on the other hand, reduces data errors and speeds up work.” The recommendations from the report will contribute to a better EMIS as DTSI will use the report’s findings to ensure the system meets data collection needs, but is grounded on the local data sources and capabilities.
As another result of this project, the Fellows were invited to support the Oracle Academy project – which works with global institutions, educators, and partners to help students become technology leaders. They used their data visualization skills to map information on 450 secondary schools and analyzed the Oracle Academy’s 2017-2018 student database for Côte d’Ivoire. This provided reliable visualization of urban and rural trends in the rate of HIV/AIDS by region, using QGIS and Tableau software. Moving forward, the Fellows’ impact will continue to be felt as projects like SIGE and Oracle Academy are completed – because they contributed to the understanding of the barriers to data collection, and helped find the right tools, and propose process solutions to overcome those challenges.
To meet the Education Action Plan’s goals, MENET-FP must significantly improve its data collection and management processes. Development of the EMIS would not only allow all players in the education system to access streamlined data in one central location, but, for select anonymized educational data sets that can subsequently be made public, also support the government’s open data agenda. Moreover, access to education data and appropriate analysis tools will improve understanding of how education works within the country, and where improvements to educational infrastructure and/or outcomes, or simply better data collection process and quality are needed.
Armel Cyrille Brou, DCDJ Fellow in Côte d’Ivoire, provided support to the data management team at an Ivorian health facility focused on treating patients with HIV/AIDS. Armel developed an application that reduces the time spent calculating patient program schedules from five minutes to less than 30 seconds.
Linda Sanogo, a DCDJ Fellow in Côte d’Ivoire, worked with a community health facility to develop and train staff on a new database, as well as complete training on other IT systems. Because of Linda’s support, the facility has reduced the number of hours spent managing patient records, and opened up more time to ensure high-quality care.
Across Abidjan, health facilities have varying levels of technical capacity, data infrastructure, and management practices to access patient health data. Through the DCDJ program, Fellow determined that a national health site performance dashboard would bring critical information together to better manage appointments, treatment plans, and patient information.