The Students’ Data Collection System (SDCS) was launched on the 16th of April 2019 by Minister for Education Hon. Nick Kuman. The aim of this system is to capture students’ information in real time, online.
The system builds on the Students’ Online Results platform implemented last year, 2018. Indicatively, the Online Data Collection System is an ‘input online platform’. Whereas, the Online Result System is an ‘output online platform’.
Only the validated provincial education officers and principals in the provinces will be able to log in, enter and send data to Port Moresby.
Recommended: PNG University GPA – Student’s Information
SIBs vs Online Data Collection
Up to now, the school headteachers, deputy principals and Provincial Examination Superintendent (PES) led with manual completion of SIBs (Students Information Booklets). The booklets are sent to the Measurement Services Division (MSD) from all over the country.
The process is manual and tedious. It can take months on end to get the data to MSD. The vision of the education department to take this function online is relieving. Hence, the development of the data collection platform.
The SDCS – or Students Online Data Collection System – has features similar to the manual SIBs. It is an Excel-based software.
For example, the permitted user enters a student’s data in the required fields. On completion of data entry, he/she sends it to the education department – MSD.
The system has corrective measures. It gives prompts for errors so that the validated user can correct and send the data, free of errors.
Validated Users: who are the main users?
The primary (validated) users of the Online Data Collection System are PESs and principals of schools. Not the students or any other teachers. Two users play an important role in the provinces.
Firstly, the Grade 8 data will be the responsibility of the Grade 8 PES based in each province. He/she will validate (and enter) the raw data. This will happen in collaboration with the primary (or high) school principals. Essentially, the key person for Grade 8 students’ data is the PES.
Secondly, the Grade 10 and 12 student’s raw data remains the responsibility of the school deputy principals and principals. They will ensure that the correct data of their students reach the MSD on time.
Recently, the Grade 8 PESs (Provincial Examination Superintendents) were in the nation’s capital for the launching of the Online Data System. They will have a fair idea about the user interface of the new system when they return to their provinces.
Other PESs, school deputy principals and principals are also encouraged to get up to speed with the system.
IMPORTANT: The school principals and Grade 8 PESs must take ownership of the online SDCS. If they are uncertain about the system’s User Interface, they should get in touch with MSD asap.
Internet connection required
The question of no Internet may be a non-issue because most of the work will be done by either the school deputy principals or PESs in the provinces’ capitals.
In hindsight, the primary users (PESs and principals) will have to gather all the raw data and enter the data when they are in town or where there are data and internet connections.
Users’ requirements: what is needed by validated users?
Unlike the School Online Result System released (and used) in 2018, the new Students’ Data Collection System is NOT compatible with mobile devices.
That means that the primary users will have to use a laptop or PC to enter data.
IMPORTANT: Users can enter data on Excel off-line and upload it onto the system when online.
The basic requirements using the new online data management system are:
- User account (user name and password)
- Microsoft Excel data entry skill
- Internet connection
Importance of correct Students Data
Collecting data is a tedious task. However, the online SDCS simplifies the task. And, makes information available in real time to the education department.
One can not underestimate the importance of getting accurate data online.
So, the benefits to key stakeholders are as follows (but not exhaustive): The education department will be in a better position to
- figure out the accurate number of Grade 8, 10 and 12 students.
- identify each student by their ID photo.
- receive the Internal (school) assessment mark – SASS and SAPS – on time.
- use the data to print the accurate number of Grade 8, 10 and 12 examination papers.
- confirm the school population with the issuance of Tuition Fee grants (probably).
- know how many schools in the country are operating.
Above all, the data collection platform is an effective way to record the internal assessment marks of primary and secondary school students.
Education department vision – E.g. Online Data Collection System
As mentioned earlier, the online SDCS and the Grade 12 Online Examination Result platform are two examples of modernising the education system.
The minister in his launching speech said that
‘Every year K2 billion is invested in the education sector….
This (online system) is the government’s effort to see how best it can deliver quality education to the people’. Hon Nick Kuman
He further said
‘In the future, I’d like to see examinations online…we can deliver exams online’ Hon Nick Kuman
Technology place in Education
The department’s vision to streamline some of the functions of its divisions and subdivisions is a step in the right direction.
The school population has doubled in the last 10 years. Hence, there is an ever-increasing demand to look for innovative ways to improve the education system. And, technology is the way forward.
In retrospect, any online system will have long term issues. The issues can be both internal and external and affect the system’s durability.
In order to sustain the system long term, there has got to be mitigating measures from the beginning. In any case of technical errors or server overload or change of management, the mitigating measures will sustain the system.
Online Systems Shortfalls
Having stated that, the mitigating measures do not have to come late. In fact, the answer to these 5 questions will ensure continuity. (NOTE: The questions are also forward-looking statements)
1. How will/can the Grade 12 Online Result Platform, Online Data Collection System, Online Examination and other online intervention systems envisioned by the education department be combined into one system?
2. Is the online system sustainable, how?
3. What are the opportunities and threats for the Online Data System?
4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Students’ Online Data Collection System?
5. How can the different divisions of the National Department of Education in Papua New Guinea work together to create a powerful network of systems?
6. How can the technological advances in the Education System help achieve the Vision (and Mission) of the department by 2050?
In closure, the senior education officers should be congratulated for leading the change. In fact, it is reassuring to know that change is happening today.
If you know school heads or principals please share this message with them or on social media. Or, leave a comment below if you want more information.