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Volume 3, Issue 1 January/February 2001

This issue is co-sponsored by:

UNESCO; Academy for Educational Development; Educational Testing Service
The contents of this Issue do not necessarily reflect the policies or the views of the co-sponsors or their affiliates

5 The Education Enterprise: Is it Manageable?

Wadi D. Haddad, Editor

Education systems are huge enterprises that are hard to manage, maintain and ensure quality of input,
process and output. They need to undergo a structural re-engineering of their processes and techniques and
to modernize their procedures and applications -- at different levels of decision-making and administration.
Communication and information technologies must be an integral part of the restructuring design and

7 Email to the Editor

Read what your colleagues have offered as feedback on previous issues of TechKnowLogia.

8 Education Management Information System: What Is It and Why Do We Not Have More of
Kurt D. Moses, Vice President, Academy for Educational Development

An Education Management Information System (EMIS) is a comprehensive system that brings together
people, process, and technology to provide timely, cost effective, and user appropriate information to support
educational management at whatever level is needed. This article addresses applications for education, who
needs what information, the process to follow, the challenges of EMIS, and some simple lessons.

13 Technology and the Management of Learning: The New Accountability

Lawrence Wolff, Inter-American Development Bank

Technology, especially increased computing power and the rapid transfer of data, are now revolutionizing the
way schools and learning systems are managed and evaluated. Education is becoming a reliable system with

15 Education and ICTs: Current Legal, Ethical and Economic Issues

Zeynep Varoglu and Cédric Wachholz, UNESCO

This article examines the legal, ethical and economic issues relating to education and the use of new

! 1 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

information and communication technologies (ICTs). It starts with an analysis of the current legal
agreements governing trade in goods and services related to education and ICTs, followed by the
ethical debates arising from the legal frameworks. It then explores the role of the private sector and
questions the role of education - a public good or a commodity.

20 TechKnowNews
♦ “Smart Villages” to put Egypt on the Regional IT Map ♦ South African Strategic Alliance to Bring Voice
Interactive Distance Learning ♦ IFC Invests in Information Technology Education in India ♦ US Web-Based
Education Commission Releases E-Learning Report ♦

21 Computer Simulations and Policy Analysis

Noel F. McGinn, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

Simulations for policy analysis can be structured or unstructured. This article describes several of each kind
of simulation and discusses how they are used and how their utility can be assessed.

26 New Technologies for Automated Essay Test Scoring

Richard Swartz, President, ETS Technologies

This article describes a groundbreaking automated essay scoring system developed by ETS Technologies.

30 HONDURAS: Smoothing the Process of the Project Cycle

Aimee Verdisco and Carlos Gargiulo, Inter-American Development Bank

This article describes the process of computerizing the project cycle of the Honduran Social Investment
Fund in 20 municipalities.

33 Using Technology to Manage Education Information: ERIC and REDUC

Dr. Lee G. Burchinal, President, Assist International Inc., Sergio Martinic, Director, Center for Research in
Development and Education, and Laurence Wolff, Inter-American Development Bank

This article analyzes the evolution, scope and innovations of two different cases of the use of technology for
managing education information.

36 EMIS Success In South Africa & Guinea: Insights From Practitioners

Luis Crouch and Jennie Spratt, RTI

Each case in this article represents a snapshot of a particular period in a country’s EMIS development as
observed by practitioners in the field.

39 Technology for Successful Management and Accountability in US K-12 Schools

Marco J. Morrone, Product Manager, Project Achieve

Many successful teachers and schools are putting in long hours tying together standards, assessments,
and resources. Automating as many aspects of this process as possible helps schools and teachers
make these connections quickly and easily, leaving more time for teachers to focus on teaching.

41 National-Level Educational Support Systems: The United Kingdom's National Grid for
Learning (NGfL)

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Soledad McKinnon, George Washington University and Joanne Capper, The World Bank

The NGfL is a diverse and constantly evolving collection of Internet-based education resources targeted to K-
12 schools, further education, higher education and lifelong learning. It contains resources and discussion
forums for teachers, tutors, school and college managers, parents, and learners of all ages.

43 Electronic Environment for Management of Learning Systems

L.A. Plugge, S. Schoenmakers, and P.A. Kirschner, Maastricht McLuhan Institute, Netherlands

This article summarizes an in-depth review of electronic tools that enable flexibility and support of
collaborative teaching and learning environments. The authors looked into 50 different electronic
environments, reviewed nine of them and short-listed four environments that they considered well equipped to
serve learning and teaching, particularly in developing countries and are susceptible for efficient use in a
multi-lingual, multi-country, and multi-media network context.

46 Education Management Information Systems (EMIS): Guidelines for Design and

Luis Crouch, RTI, Mircea Enache, EMI Systems and Patrick Supanc, The World Bank

This article provides guidelines on mapping decision-making responsibility and priorities, design strategies,
and implementation measures, and distills overarching lessons from international experience.

50 Education Management Information Systems (EMIS): Available Software and Guidelines for
Kurt Moses, Vice President, and Vivian Toro, Director, Academy for Educational Development

This article addresses strategic choices regarding development or purchase of EMIS software, reviews a
sample of available software, and describes seven steps for software selection.

55 No Strings Attached: Education Management Using Wireless, Internet and Smart Card
Editorial Staff

Wireless communications, Internet and Smart Cards can provide fast, reliable and cheap solutions to some of
the most pressing problems facing education systems today.

57 WorthWhileWebs
Gregg Jackson, Associate Professor and Coordinator, Education Policy Program, George Washington

The Web is being used increasingly not only to provide information and instruction, but also to support
policy development, planning, and management of educational systems. This article describes several
sites that do that.

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59 Orbiting The Dream: Satellites Open New Horizons For Africa’s Educators
Tressa Steffen Gipe

Imagine a small isolated rural village in Africa. The village schoolhouse receives current radio reports in the
local language with events from around the world, and the teacher is able to email student and payroll
records to the Ministry of Education in the capital. In the evenings the school doubles as a community media
center filled with enterprising villagers checking grain and livestock prices in the capital, while others keep in
touch with friends and family via email. Is it a dream or a reality?

61 On-line Distance Learning: The Experience of the International Institute for Educational
Planning, UNESCO
Bikas C. Sanyal

IIEP launched a program of distance learning (DL) in various areas of educational management (e.g. the
management of textbook production and distribution, refresher programs for former IIEP trainees, the
management of university-industry partnerships, etc.), based on self-learning materials prepared by its
faculty. This article deals with only one area – the training of human resources for university management.

63 AED: Technology as a Management Tool; A New Approach to Implementation

AED has been a leader in developing computer software programs for gathering and processing education
statistics and the comprehensive training programs to teach ministry officials and educational administrators
how to process, interpret, and use the data they gather. One of the foremost programs in education
management information systems is ED*ASSIST.

Editorial Calendar for Year 2001

YEAR 2001
January/ March/ May/ July/ September/ November/
February April June August October December

Management Science and Enterprise Social Studies Early Childhood Language

of Education Math Education Training Development and Education
Systems Parental

Year 2000 Issues in the Archive

YEAR 2000
January/ March/ May/ July/ September November/
February April June August /October December

Higher Access to Basic Education Skill Formation Learning Never Teacher

Education Information & for All Ends (Lifelong) Support and
Knowledge Training

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Wadi D. Haddad, Editor

The Education Enterprise: Is it Manage

The Scope What Management? What Technology?
The education enterprise, by comparison to any other na- Any business that is a fraction of the size and complexity of
tional activity, is huge and intricate. It involves educational a country's educational enterprise and that uses the manage-
institutions all over the country, teachers and administrators ment techniques employed by most educational systems, will
in large numbers, and students of every age that can reach go out of business in no time. Big businesses have discov-
25-30% of the total population. For instance, the educational ered how important management is to be well run, efficient
system of a middle income country of about 10 million peo- and competitive. In so doing, they utilized the potential of
ple, can easily cover more than 11,000 educational institu- technology to restructure their procedures and overhaul their
tions, 140,000 teachers and 3 million students. The budget of processes of production, distribution, training, feedback,
this enterprise may reach 20% of the government budget and maintenance and administration. But the education systems
3-5% of the Gross National Product (GNP). By any measure, have been slow in exploiting the power of technology.
this is a big enterprise to manage, maintain and ensure qual-
ity of input, process and output. This contrast was well articulated by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
Chairman and CEO of IBM, in a speech to the U.S. National
Success Brings Challenges Governors' Association, in 1995, which unfortunately applies
Recent reforms within the education enterprise have resulted equally well today.
in observable successes in making educational opportunities
more accessible and equitable and the teaching/learning pro- "Information technology is the fundamental underpin-
cess more effective. Yet these successes are making a hardly ning of the science of structural re-engineering. It is the
manageable system even more complicated: force that revolutionizes business, streamlines govern-
• The expansion of educational opportunities means more ment and enables instant communications and the ex-
schools in isolated rural areas, and more diversified change of information among people and institutions
modes of delivery. around the world. But information technology has not
• Aiming for education for all means including students made even its barest appearance in most public schools...
from under-served populations who require special Before we can get the education revolution rolling, we
measures to reach and have special needs to meet. need to recognize that our public schools are low-tech
• Accent on learning requires setting of reliable and meas- institutions in a high-tech society. The same changes
urable standards, and attending to individual differences. that have brought cataclysmic change to every facet of
• Decentralization and devolution of decisions to district business can improve the way we teach students and
and local levels require better information systems and teachers. And it can also improve the efficiency and ef-
management procedures. fectiveness of how we run our schools."
• The involvement of more stakeholders in the education
process (parents, employers, unions, political parties, Many educational institutions and systems have introduced
etc.) is resulting in more transparency and accountabil- simple management and statistical information systems. But
ity. These developments demand a consistent flow of in- this should be only the beginning. Two inter-related meas-
formation, and force the education enterprise to be better ures are needed: First, education systems need to undergo a
and more efficiently managed. structural re-engineering of their processes and techniques
• The public sector, which until recently has had a mo- and to modernize their procedures and applications -- at dif-
nopoly on the delivery of educational services, is starting ferent levels of decision-making and administration. Second,
to feel the competition from private enterprises which communication and information technologies must be an
have been entering the market in escalating numbers. In integral part of the restructuring design and application.
many cases, particularly at the tertiary level, these pri- More specifically, technology for management should be the
vate entities are using the potential of information and underpinnings of reform in three areas:
communication technology to lower cost and improve
efficiency. Competition will demand from the public Management of institutions and systems. The same ele-
sector better-managed and more efficient systems and ments of computing and telecommunications equipment and
institutions. services that made businesses more efficient and cost-
effective, can be applied to schools and school systems to

! 5 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

enable principals and superintendents to streamline opera-
tions, monitor performance and improve utilization of physi- TechKnowLogia™
cal and human resources. Technology also promotes com- Published by
munication among schools, parents, central decision-makers Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
and businesses that fosters greater accountability, public
support, and connectivity with the marketplace. At the In editorial collaboration with
school/institution level, technologies are crucial in such areas United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Or-
ganization (UNESCO )
as admissions, student flow, personnel, staff development Organization for Economic Co-operation
and facilities. At the system-wide level, technologies provide and Development (OECD )
critical support in domains such as: school mapping, auto-
mated personnel and payroll systems, management informa- EDITOR-IN-CHIEF:
Wadi D. Haddad, President, Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
tion systems, communications, and information gathering,
Gajaraj Dhanarajan, President & CEO,
Management of policy making. The process of policy analy- The Commonwealth of Learning
Dee Dickenson, CEO, New Horizons for Learning
sis and development is a sophisticated and strategic exercise. Alexandra Draxler, Director, Task force on Education for
It is, by necessity, an intricate, non-linear process in which a the Twenty-first Century (UNESCO)
variety of people and organizations with diverse perspectives Jacques Hallak, Ass't. Director-General/Education ,
are actively involved in the process through which issues are UNESCO
Pedro Paulo Poppovic, Secretary of Distance Education,
analyzed and polices are generated, implemented, assessed, Federal Ministry of Education, Brazil
adjusted and redesigned. Here information can be valuable in Nicholas Veliotes, President Emeritus,
storing and analyzing data on education indicators, student Association of American Publishers
assessment, educational physical and human infrastructure, Jarl Bengtsson, Head, CERI, OEDC
cost and finance. Technology can help not only in diagnosis ADVISORY EDITORIAL COMMITTEE:
but more importantly it can assist in constructing scenarios Joanne Capper, Sr. Education Specialist, World Bank
around different intended policy options to determine re- Claudio Castro, Chief Education Adviser, IDB
quirements and consequences. Each scenario can then be Gregg Jackson, Assoc. Prof., George Washington Univ.
James Johnson, Deputy Director, GIIC
systematically analyzed and evaluated, not only in terms of Frank Method, Dir., Washington Office, UNESCO
its educational desirability but also in terms of financial af- Laurence Wolff, Sr. Consultant, IDB
fordability, feasibility and sustainability over a sufficient Mary Fontaine, LearnLink, AED
period of time to show results. During policy implementa- Sonia Jurich, Consultant
tion, technology can facilitate tracer studies and tracking MANAGING EDITOR:
systems as well as summative and formative evaluation. Sandra Semaan

Management of learning activities. Technology also can be GUEST EDITORIAL ADVISER:

Kurt Moses, Vice President, AED
powerful in driving and managing new approaches to learn-
ing that involve more student interaction, more connections GENERAL QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS
among schools, more collaboration among teachers and stu- FEEDBACK ON ARTICLES
dents, and more involvement of teachers as facilitators. EDITORIAL MATTERS:
These needs are more critical in self-study, distance educa-
tion and e-learning settings and many platforms have been SPONSORSHIP AND ADVERTISING
developed to meet such needs.
Technology should not be a solution looking for a problem. Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
It needs to be preceded by needs assessment, market analy- P.O. Box 3027
sis, strategic design and experimentation, and accompanied Oakton, VA 22124
by training, appropriate investment and maintenance. This Fax: 703-242-2279
Issue of TechKnowLogia, with its wide range of articles on
possibilities, guidelines and experiences, is a contribution to This Issue is Co-Sponsored By:
this process. UNESCO,
Academy for Educational Development (AED),
Educational Testing Service (ETS)
Wadi D. Haddad

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Supporting Teachers with Technology: Don't "global" perspective you offer. I am a Technology
Do Today's Jobs with Yesterday's Tools Coordinator at an elementary school in New Jersey. As a
November/December 2000 project for our fifth grade class, I have tried very hard to
locate pen-pals, e-pals we call them, in Germany but to no
I am a teacher educator at the University of the West Indies, avail. I believe the opportunity for students to communicate
Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. Am involved in our distance with "German e-pals," and vice-versa, would be an
education as well. In addition am involved in a major reform excellent learning experience in ICT for all. Can you provide
initiative by the Barbados Ministry to use technology to any assistance that will enable us to further this project?
mediate changes in how teaching is done. There was so much
in the article to stimulate ideas re the possibilities of more I am so happy to have learned of your journal. I am currently
relevant in situ training even in contexts where distance per working on my Doctorate in the area of curriculum and I am
se is not an issue. Really stimulated my thinking re making researching "best practices" in education with the use of ICT.
my various teacher education roles more student owned in (ICT, a term I've coined from reading Techknowlogia) Your
the interest of up-to-date practical, yet theoretically sound journal is surely an excellent resource. Usually you find a
training, cum action research possibilities. On a personal note plethora of information about technology in the United
having done my first degree by distance I can relate to the States. Rarely have I come across such in depth information
constraints mentioned in traditional training and the about technology from a global perspective. Thank you for
possibilities offered by technology. your insight.
Desmond C. Clarke Linda Cole Woodson
University of West Indies, Barbados New Jersey, USA
Images of Teaching: The TIMSS Video Taping
Project November/December 2000 I always enjoy your bulletin, and I was specially impressed
by Why I Love (GOOD) Training Videos by Mr. Claudio
Excellent article. Very interesting. Thank you! Yours is the de Moura Castro. Congratulations on your C&T diffusion
first I have seen with the information presented. It is my efforts.
personal; opinion that California strains out an enormous Fernando Ortiz-Crespo, Ecuador
amount of creative teaching with its system of requiring
teacher's to conform and obtain a teaching "credential". How Sometimes such personalized messages touch you deeply. I
do you recruit prospective teachers with bright and creative got out of touch of TechKnowLogia due to some other
minds and qualities of kindness, understanding and demanding affairs but you shook me up. I would restore my
leadership when you motion for them to spend a year of their connections again. My heartiest gratitude.
lives learning conformity in order to obtain a California
Teaching Credential and then pay them less than you pay Mrs. Urvashi Rathod, India
California State Prison Guards? Then, once you have these
willing conformists, you cement them in place with tenure! I have greatly enjoyed reading the articles that have appeared
Bah! Humbug! The bureaucracy is the major problem. in the journal, and I offer my congratulations to the
organizers for setting up this valuable instrument. In
Bill Hackett particular, I enjoyed reading the frank assessment of distance
The Center for the Study of Social Structures, USA learning in China offered by Prof. Chen Xiangming. (China:
Teacher Training with TV Technology)
General Feedback Prof. Jim Kohn
I enjoyed learning about Techknowlogia. It's a fantastic San Francisco State University, USA
journal and I enjoy reading the contents. I appreciate the

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Education Management Information System:
What Is It and Why Do We Not Have More of It?

Kurt D. Moses, Vice President

Academy for Educational Development

An Education Management Information System (EMIS) is a comprehensive system that bring together people, process, and
technology to provide timely, cost effective, and user appropriate information to support educational management at whatever
level is needed. EMIS actually contrasts with other types of information systems—notably:

• Statistical Information System (SIS): which is oriented to reporting historical data (at least a year after it is
relevant) and often provides considerable detail, usually mainly at the national level, in support of specific
research efforts; and
• Decision Support Information System (DSIS): which is oriented to direct support of key or future decisions
within an educational system and typically requires the proper functioning of both an SIS and an EMIS—
there are few effective forms of DSIS in operation now.

These distinctions are relevant because most of the educational world -- seldom known for a focus on speed and accuracy in
information -- is really oriented to a Statistical Information System type approach. Very few EMISs actually operate at the
multiple levels necessary for effective management of education in most countries, and very few systems actually have com-
prehensive DSISs that can be applied to key policy and decision points…the way they often are in the competitive private sec-
tor. As importantly, most Information Systems collect quantitative information that is often only 25-40% of a factor in major
policy decisions.

What Does This Mean for Educa

Education? tion (excessive detail) about issues that were important at one
time. Throughout the world, for education, there is often too
Education as a sector, particularly pre-university, in most much information on “inputs” to education (the students,
countries, is the responsibility mainly of the public sector teachers, and schools—even if the information is of ques-
and usually one Ministry—the Ministry of Education and tionable accuracy) and way too little information about criti-
Culture/Sports/Technology/Scientific Research. Even in cal factors like finances, use of instructional materials, and
highly decentralized systems like the U.S., the responsibility even less on the outputs and outcomes of schooling—test
for primary and secondary education rests usually with a results, good instructional practices, effectiveness on the job
state or district centralized agency with prime responsibility or at the next level of schooling.
for curriculum, standards, financing, and often provision of
key items like textbooks, instructional materials, and teach- Who Needs What Information?
ers. In some instances, these agencies have only policy-
making authority (they help shape the executive and legisla- Education systems are faced with both external and internal
tive dialogue and set and monitor standards) and in others information problems, linked to the kinds of stakeholders
they have implementation responsibility. In much of the that they have. (See article by same author, “Information
developing world, ministries and agencies still have both Systems for Education Management,” TechKnowLogia,
policy-making and implementation authority—but the im- May/June 2000). The categories below are not exact, but
plementation component is being gradually weakened indicative.
through deconcentration and decentralization.
External Stakeholders
The overarching problem for education systems in most
countries is that on the one hand, they have too little infor-
External stakeholders view a Ministry or its agencies as a
mation, in an accessible form, for the issues they are now
service group – whose mission is to provide them with
facing, and on the other hand, they have too much informa-
needed information, advice (when requested), and policy

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execution – depending upon the public mandate. In practice,
political influence and the allocation of money often rule 3. Citizens:
these relationships, but information continues to be impor-
tant. With the rapid spread of democracy throughout the world,
citizens are demanding accountability from their educational
1. Other Ministries—particularly the Ministries of Fi- systems—and from their governments. Rather than simply
nance and Planning: accepting education as given, more and more parents are
making demands on the educational system for performance,
In most developing countries, Ministries of Finance, and for accountability for use of resources, and for transparency.
frequently Ministries of Planning, have become very power- Ministries of Education have a key role in helping define
ful because they are the locus of central funds and the central what are reasonable measures for these factors, and for
agency through which large international donors work. Un- helping to put in place mechanisms for gathering and under-
der these conditions, the Ministry of Education must become standing measures of performance, accountability, and trans-
an irrefutable source of good information about the educa- parency.
tional operations at a very detailed level and must provide an
historical perspective on trends as well as policy influences. 4. Other Providers of Education:

In recent years, pressured by the International Monetary With rising democracy, the orientation of more economies
Fund, the World Bank, and several others, the concept of towards the market sector, and the internationalization of
Unit Costing has become very popular with planning and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), other providers
finance groups. Unit costing means that the Ministry of of education are key stakeholders in Ministries of Education.
Education needs to come up with: very accurate student en- Some of these providers are religiously based, others secular,
rollment information, very accurate total cost figures for key others are strictly community based, and some are schools
components of education, and some trends for both enroll- converted from government to a government- assisted status.
ment and cost components. This typically requires increas- Frequently these other providers need registration and certi-
ingly accurate tracking of schools, students, and teachers— fication from the Ministry – most ministries are very behind
factors that many ministries are actually less able to track. in performing this function. Some providers look to the gov-
Hence, an integrated EMIS approach that links students and ernment for some portion of their funding – either of teach-
costs is increasingly important. A Ministry of Education also ers, or of instructional materials, or some other part of edu-
needs to know what this means—i.e. unit costing, and how to cational supplies. Typically, those requiring the most assis-
incorporate truly educational priorities into its use. One of tance from government also provide the most frequent and
the major EMIS features needed for this is the ability to do reliable reporting – those that do not, frequently, do not re-
budget simulation, as well as projections. The above minis- port or even wish their operations to be well understood.
tries will also require certain routine reports that are required
either monthly, termly or annually. Ministries of Education, if not careful, can become only
ministries of public education when they have not attended
2. Donors and Other Funders: sufficiently to these other providers. In some countries, non-
government education is responsible for 50-70% of all pri-
As international donors provide assistance to a country’s mary and secondary education, and even in countries with
education system, they require measurable progress accord- previously small private education sectors, they are growing.
ing to targets, and accountability for the use of funds. This Hence, Ministries of Education need to create EMIS struc-
calls for quite detailed information, and the administrative tures that have major incentives for reporting and for reli-
qualities of accountability, transparency, and timeliness. ability, in conjunction with the non-governmental education
sector. In some instances, the Ministry may need to use an-
To provide donor requirements, ministries must have people, other trusted information group for non-governmental edu-
organizational structure and systems that provide program- cation information (e.g. in Zambia, the Community Schools
based tracking of results (i.e. enrollments, teachers trained, Secretariat tracks the majority of community schools in the
textbooks distributed, or curriculum revised) by time period, country).
and by milestone. (Use of the LogFrame approach provides
an appropriate way to organize such reviews—but Ministries Internal Issues
of Education still need to provide the raw data to make these
work). Most importantly, they need sufficient control of
Ministries are faced with a series of internal issues that in
their funds allocation. In some cases, an effective EMIS
many instances complicate response to external stakeholders.
means that even a simple Project Accounting program
The challenge of deconcentration and decentralization of
(Quicken Books) is needed to integrate financial results.
functions further complicates many of these internal issues.

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The three major issues for ministries are: 1) old organiza- rethink how they are organized, and what information is
tional structures that do not meet current challenges; 2) hier- really needed for each position. Decision mapping is one
archies that may not be responsive; and 3) the speed of trans- technique to clarify what types of decisions are made and
fer of information. where the decision occurs. This provides some guidance on
how to structure access to information.
1. Organizational Structures:
3. Timeliness of Information Transfer
Most Ministry organizations were developed during the
1950s and 1960s. Some even date back to the late 1930s. There is a serious problem with the speed at which informa-
As a result, the necessary links to more modern educational tion is conveyed in most government systems. Not only does
integration have not taken place. In some instances, plan- most information depend upon moving a piece of paper from
ning, rather than being no lower than the second level in a one place in a country to the capital city, but also the same
ministry, is subordinate to some other unit– or else so iso- paper needs to be moved around various offices within a
lated from line responsibilities that it lacks resources. In ministry or regional office. Many registries (in Anglophone
other instances, the individual sectors like basic and secon- countries) that are often the first recipients of paper, have
dary education are so bureaucratically isolated from one an- become almost dysfunctional—people do not even know that
other that common issues do not get addressed. With the paperwork has been sent forward. In other cases, traditional
HIV/AIDs pandemic sweeping many countries, effective practices of sending all personnel paperwork care of the
coordination with Ministries of Health and Environment has Permanent Secretary – even if he/she is not the decision-
no effective entry point and therefore programs end up being maker on the matter – further delay and complicate adminis-
established outside the regular structure. trative action. Ministries often find themselves inundated
with paper in duplicate and triplicate on matters that could
As importantly, most countries still have “stove-pipe” struc- have been resolved at lower levels.
tures of ministries replicating the national function at each
lower level – for example, province, region, district, and in The net result of much of this activity, built on old proce-
some cases zone. These “stove-pipe” structures of parallel dures, is delay. Information that is needed can, frequently,
operation – a representative of Ministry of Education, Health, only be gotten on an emergency basis—with individual tele-
Finance, Planning, Social Welfare, Labor, etc. at every level, phone calls or faxes—because the routine processing is so
create a great deal of duplication and require multiple infra- stalled. In other cases, paperwork is sent two or three times
structure investments to support each ministry. because of misrouting, non-delivery, or slow processing—
hence actions sometimes catch themselves coming and
Some countries, recognizing the duplication and realizing the going. Finally, because of traditional approaches, laborious
need for organized collaboration have created departments of letters are often used instead of forms or even machine
social services combining education, health, and labor. readable inputs. The result is that more intermediate people
Other countries have created government-wide data networks are needed to interpret a letter, rather than a form, and more
that allow sharing of information more readily both across delays are introduced.
and within ministries, enhancing some of the links that are
artificially blocked by organizational barriers. An effective EMIS can begin to change both the tools and
the processes used to exchange information and to support
2. Functional Hierarchies: decisions. An effective EMIS needs to address not only what
information is necessary for decisions, but also who will use
One of the most compelling challenges for the public sector, it, in what manner, and how that process is to be supported.
and ministries of education in particular, is the new sets of Only when the entire cycle of people, process, and technol-
skills necessary for effective operation. All public service ogy is addressed can governments expect to see real change
has been slow to set aside special labor categories for those in the speed with which information flows, and consequently
who operate computers, develop computer programs, main- an option for increasing the speed of decision-making.
tain networks, and configure national communication struc-
tures. A similar situation is happening with good policy and A Process to Follow
information analysts.
Most educational establishments have some type of man-
Another issue is that while there are attempts to delegate
agement information—even if it is just a blackboard outside
decision making to lower level personnel, those officers may
a school listing every week enrollment by grade. Informa-
not have access to the information needed to make enlight- tion is being provided to those who might want to use it. But
ened decisions in a timely manner. The information revolu- a modern system needs more than this on a supported basis.
tion, of which EMIS is a part, requires that organizations As a minimum, upgrading, modernizing and seizing on new

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approaches to improve education delivery using EMIS re- The Challenge for EMIS
quires the following:
Education Management Information Systems have a techni-
1. Determine who the stakeholders are for education cal element, but they are primarily about the use of informa-
information. Most systems can determine this quite tion. Using information is a highly specific, often personal
quickly and there are many guides to this. activity that affects work habits, work style, and work flows.
2. Assess who needs information for what decisions. Since information use tends to be specific, training and
Decision-making as the focus for defining information reengineering are a big part of making EMIS effective.
needs is the key to an effective EMIS—one that is ap- Many old style information systems have ceased to work not
propriate in size and complexity to the current situation. because they became obsolete, but because the people sup-
Answers to this question will distinguish those who porting them failed to maintain them properly. EMIS will
need information from those who would like to know. involve several things that are critical to success:
3. Determine which functions need to be supported and
at what level. With decentralization, a function like 1. Set standards for information. As part of EMIS, in-
personnel recruitment may no longer be a national ac- formation that is needed must be defined, described, and
tivity, but rather devolved to the District level. Hence, sourced.
the personnel recruitment function will need support at 2. Set timing. Information will vary simply by being gath-
the District level, and perhaps the sending of summary ered at a different time. If you measure enrollment in
information to the national level. January, rather than April, the counts will be different—
4. Assess available resources. Assessing resources means both accurate, but different.
not only financial, but also material, personnel, time, and 3. Define the level of possible accuracy. Most systems
commitment. More EMIS efforts have failed because of (statistics, personnel, inventory, textbook, examina-
the unavailability of good personnel and commitment tions), except finance, cannot report with more than 2-
than any other cause. 3% accuracy simply because of delays.
5. Set priorities (short-term, medium-term, and long- 4. Reports should be the result of daily activities not
term), get some knowledgeable review and set a time- special purpose efforts. To the extent possible, all re-
frame. Knowing what might be needed and what is porting should derive from daily operational activities –
available, determines what is most important. A simple not be a special, separate activity. For example, enroll-
question to help set such priorities is..”What information ment reporting should derive directly from the school
is really needed for each position within one year.“ registry of students.
Make sure to allow time to get a decent review of the 5. Define formats early, so that people get used to and
plan by someone who has already done it in an institu- understand how information is presented. Formats
tion of similar size and design. should also set the stage so that users of information can
6. Get multiple commitments. EMIS will change the way ask multiple questions. For example, if one presents en-
in which people work, and will affect how they view rollment data for the nation, EMIS must be prepared to
their jobs and their work. They need to be involved at support an elaboration at the provincial, regional, district
the design stage and during the subsequent stages. or other level—as well as provide information on
7. Get sufficient resources for people, for the process, trends—to allow not just a snapshot of activity—but the
and then for the technology. People and process will basis for analysis.
determine the effectiveness of EMIS, not the Technol- 6. Ensure that the providers of information quickly see
ogy. As a result, plan on spending at least 25% of any the results of their work. The quicker and closer in-
EMIS budget on training during the initial stages, and formation processing is to the source, the higher the
another 15-30% on “reengineering.” Over time, train- level of accuracy and speed of correction.
ing and software will be the largest costs for EMIS, not 7. Measure the cost of producing information. Most
the equipment. ministries produce more information than they need or
8. Stay clear on the outcomes and monitor. Make sure can use, and no one really measures the cost. Annual
that the key information needed will be produced and surveys, as one example, can cost up to $400,000 per
focus on that as the outcome of the system. To do this, administration—a high cost if only a fraction of the in-
prototypes are often effective as a way to get a clear formation is made available.
sense of outcomes before a full system comes into place.
The key part of this stage is to keep checking and mak-
ing sure that the necessary outcomes are coming. Ex-
hibit A below provides one indication of how the vari-
ous outcomes from an EMIS can be conceptualized.

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Some Simple Lessons 3. Put information into the hands of people who can use
it—and quickly. This means that, for example, testing
There are a few simple lessons surrounding EMISs that can data should be in the hands of teachers quickly so that
serve as a high level guide for most ministries and their they can improve, not just judge. It means that if re-
agencies. Although there will always be highly technical cruitment of teachers is at the District level, District of-
detail underneath these lessons, policy makers should be able ficials need personnel information quickly and in use-
to be guided by them. able format—not just national level staff.
4. Do not let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good. Too
1. EMIS is not working unless it is able to give guidance to many overly complex, and difficult to sustain, EMIS
three basic issues for decision-makers: systems have been developed because of the goal of per-
fection, when what the Ministry needed was a good
• What is going on?
• What caused the current situation?
• What can be done about it? Above all, we must recall that an EMIS is a tool to make the
2. For educational statistics at a District level or above, the goals of education for a nation’s population a reality. In the
minimum standard for information is, “This year’s in- long-term, the true test of an effective EMIS is whether it has
formation, this year.” Effective systems provide much directly fostered the accomplishment of those goals.
more frequent updates at all levels, but the above is a

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Technology and the Management of Learning:
The New Accountability
By Laurence Wolff

Behind Closed Doors tified; these are not simply high scoring schools, but rather
they are schools, which, given the socio-economic makeup of

Teaching has been a work of "artisanship" since the time

their student body, score higher than would be expected; or
they are schools that increase performance from year to year.
With the new availability of reliable data, principals can be
of Socrates. Even with formal teacher training colleges, asked to set measurable goals and are then evaluated on the
most teachers have toiled alone in their classroom, unseen by basis of the extent to which they have met these goals.
all except an inquiring school principal. What has happened Computer analysis can even track value-added learning of
in the classroom has been between the teacher and the stu- students from one year to the next, providing, for the first
dent. Schools themselves have been only sporadically evalu- time, measures of the extent to which teachers are achieving
ated. Successful teachers and schools have usually been their goals.
defined anecdotally as those with the best reputation or those
with the highest percentages of students who moved on to Available items from test scores can permit comparison of
the next level of education or entered the most prestigious school and district performance with systems throughout the
institutions at the next level. country as well as the world. For example, two thirds of the
test items from the Third International Math and Science
Even with the increasing emphasis on accountability and the Test (TIMSS) of the IEA are now available for downloading
start of the use of education management information sys- from the Internet ( Therefore any school
tems (EMIS) in education, it has been difficult and time con- or school system, on its own, can compare its student per-
suming to measure in a timely manner how teachers and formance with that of 42 other countries in the world.
schools were functioning. Minimum data on school per- Schools and school systems can determine how far they have
formance, such as completion rates, have typically been a to go to reach the level of performance of the students of
year out of date in developed countries such as the USA and Singapore, who score half a standard deviation higher than
three or four years old in developing countries. Test results any other national school system in the world.
have taken many months to score and it has been excessively
time consuming and expensive to definitively identify and A Case of Goal Setting and Moni
seek to explain well performing schools. toring
Opening the Doors
Many state school systems in the United States have
Technology, especially increased computing power and moved in this direction. For example:
• Texas (,
the rapid transfer of data, are now revolutionizing the way
• North Carolina (, and
schools and learning systems are managed and evaluated.
• Maryland (,
With computing power and nearly instantaneous communi-
among others, are publishing school level test scores on their
cation with central data processing systems, it is now possi-
Internet sites. Data driven goal setting can also be under-
ble to have data-driven educational goal setting and rapid
taken at the local or county level. The Montgomery County
measurement of results. Education is becoming a reliable
Public School System (MCPS) in Maryland, USA, is an ex-
system with memory.
ample of data-driven school management focussed on goal
setting and accountability.1 Analysis of scores, dropout
In the new data driven educational process, scores on tests, as
rates, and changing demographics has helped to define the
well as dropout rates, and even instances of school violence
challenge for this school system. The county for many years
or disruption, can be made available to decision making
had a mainly white, middle class, relatively high performing
authorities or the general public within days and at most a
clientele and was considered one of the leading school sys-
few months. These results can now be linked with school
tems in the USA. The past ten twenty years have seen a
and student characteristics. "Effective" schools can be iden-

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dramatic demographic change. In the year 2000, only 49% students and measuring performance, but has kept the results
of enrolled students were white, with the remainder black, confidential. Finally Mexico is publishing the results of
Hispanic, and Asian. The data show an enormous chasm some of its research. A recent document identified 1000
between the achievement scores of Hispanics and blacks high performing schools located in poor neighborhoods.4
compared with achievement of and whites and Asians. If the Using these data, research teams undertook qualitative analy-
county does not reduce the gap soon, its vaunted educational sis of the qualities of these schools. They found that these
system will become second rate. Its new clientele requires a high performing "value added" schools had dynamic leaders,
new set of strategies. consistency and continuity, clear goals, and strong school
community relationships -- results very much like those of
The county's goals have been defined on the basis of data and similar studies. The Mexican authorities now have the be-
detailed focus group discussions with critical stakeholders. ginnings of a roadmap to increase the quality of education in
The critical goal is to reduce the gap between the poorly and their country.
well performing minorities in achievement, while at the same

New accountability requires school princi-

time raising the bar for achievement of all students. The
county has begun to require data-driven action plans for all
schools. Within the next two years, MCPS is seeking online
rapid data availability throughout the county. pals with wide reaching skills, able to moti-
One critical objective is to increase the number of students
vate teachers, understand figures, interact
successfully taking Algebra 1 in ninth grade, since research with parents, identify goals, and remain
has shown that algebra is the key to students remaining and
succeeding in school. Individual schools are setting, and committed over a long time.
some are achieving, goals such as raising the number of ninth
grade students successfully completing algebra from 60 to Some teachers, and their representatives - teachers' unions -
90%. A second effort at raising the bar for all students is to have been questioning the new process of data driven ac-
increase the numbers of students, especially minorities, tak- countability and transparency. Some may argue that the
ing advanced placement (AP) tests, which are college level intimate and personal relationship between the student and
courses with a nationally defined curriculum and objectively teacher is compromised, and that teachers no longer have an
scored tests. Students are "self-selecting" into AP classes opportunity to be creative, since they are tied to external ex-
and teachers are challenged to keep the scores at the same aminations. They argue that tests and data can only measure
level with a wider self-selected classroom population. Also a small element of the educational process. The fact is that
based on research, the county has undertaken a series of out- teachers are losing the free hand they once had in the class-
reach programs to Hispanic and black parents, and estab- room. But a data driven, transparent education system, with
lished strategic alliances with early childhood education the right goals and measurements, can only help them in their
groups. task. At the same time, to work, the new accountability re-
quires school principals with wide reaching skills, able to
More Accountability and Transpar
Transpar- motivate teachers, understand figures, interact with parents,
ency identify goals, and remain committed over a long time. The
demands are so great that some studies in the USA report
problems of “principal burnout”.5 For the new accountability
Data and research driven policy decisions are not unique to be successful, school systems throughout the world will
need to develop coherent programs, which develop, nurture,
to the United States. Chile regularly publishes the school by and adequately remunerate a new generation of school prin-
school results of testing program SIMCE,2 and the Brazilian cipals.
State of Sao Paulo3 will also shortly publish its results.
Mexico is a country that for many years has been testing its

See “Our Call to Action: The Citizens Budget for FY 2001,” Montgomery County School System, Rockville Maryland, De-
cember 1999 and also Documents on the Web site include “Annual Report to Parents, Staff and
the Community,” “Raising the Bar, and Closing the Gap, Because All Children Matter,” and “Teacher Evaluation System.”
See Mexico, Secretaria de Educacion Publica, “Distribucion de los planteles publicos de educacion primaria y secundaria,
segun el nivel de acertos de sus alumnos en los examenes de carrera magisterial” and also
See the Harvard Education Letter, November-December 2000 and online at

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Education and ICTs:
Current Legal, Ethical and Economic Issues
Zeynep Varoglu and Cédric Wachholz, UNESCO

This article examines the legal, ethical and economic issues relating to education and the use
of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). It starts with an analysis of the
current legal agreements governing trade in goods and services related to education and
ICTs, followed by the ethical debates arising from the legal frameworks. It then explores the
role of the private sector and questions the role of education - a public good or a commodity.
For the purposes of this article, ICTs have been defined as radio, television, computer hard-
ware and software, and the Internet. The discussion concentrates solely on the provision of
educational content and ICTs, but does not focus on issues of connectivity (e.g. telecommu-

Legal Agreements – Emerging Trends tries, and societies. Copyright is expanding with regards to
the items protected, but also with regards to the area and the
Until the mid 1990s, inter-governmental forums like the period of protection.3
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and
UNESCO dealt on an international level with questions of Industry is moving quickly to secure the distribution of their
intellectual property (IP) and copyrights. The idea of guar- products. In addition to the copyright, distributors use new
anteeing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) originates from contracts and technological devices for the protection of their
the recognition that there is public interest in ensuring IPR as goods. Electronic licenses, which users can accept with a
it promotes innovation and progress in the arts, science and simple mouse-click, often forbid the user’s exercise of the
technology. Private economic interests, issues of individual above-mentioned copyright exemptions, which are never-
ownership (of the owners and/or creators of IP), issues con- theless recognized by law.4 In addition, new technological
cerning moral values (of IP) and public interest in gaining barriers to the public domain have emerged along with dif-
access to information have largely influenced the develop- ferent electronic management systems. These tools make it
ment of IP conventions. The WIPO has been relatively open possible to license access and to monitor on-line utilization
to the socio-cultural dimension of developments in the field of works with contractual and technological protections. An-
of ICTs and has in the past offered an arena within which the other example of the move from a system intended to protect
interests of developing nations could be voiced.1 This is re- creative works towards a system meant to protect private
flected in conventions designed to ensure the financial remu- investment is the case of the European database protection
neration of authors of IP (Paris Convention for the Protection directive. The copyright protection, which covers the original
of Industrial Property 1883 and the Bern Convention for the architecture of the database, is supplemented by a protection
Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886), and to pro- of the content itself. Consequently, the database producer can
tect the moral rights of IP authors against modification with- prohibit retrieval and reutilization of material - including
out the creator’s consent (The 1928 Revision of the Bern basic information - for a 15-year period.5 This amounts to
Convention). granting a monopoly over a collection of information and
threatens the public access to information. Another is the
The public, especially educators and learners, has a critical recent increase of the period covered by copyright. In many
interest in preserving the copyright exemptions granted in the countries, notably in Europe and the United States, the copy-
above conventions. These exemptions ensure the freedom of right period has been extended from 50 to 70 years after the
expression, access to information and cultural goods, and the creator’s death.
dissemination of knowledge through education, research and
libraries.2 Today, however, technological and legislative The increased emphasis on profit has affected the develop-
changes that have been enacted by the information society ment of ICTs for education; legal negotiations have resulted
threaten to disrupt the delicate balance, which has been in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and
struck between the rights and interests of individuals, indus- the agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights
(TRIPS) under the GATT/WTO negotiations. The TRIPS

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was part of the discussions held by the General Agreement rations. As stated by UNRISD, “In sum the regime threatens
on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) negotiating forum. The GATT to negate the possibilities that cyberspace offers for a new
was replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in global forum, and to reduce this space to a marketplace
1995. In the context of the present study, the GATS mainly where a controlled volume of ideas will be traded.”12
relates to the development of educational services, and the
TRIPS to educational content. WIPO - WTO Debate13
The GATS6 (concluded in 1994) represented the first open
The inclusion of TRIPS in IPR discussions in the
discussions on promoting international trade in education
GATT/WTO negotiations was a source of discord between
services as if these were everyday consumer goods.7 GATS
the numerous participating developed and developing coun-
relates to the provision of education services in four areas:
tries regarding the benefits of IPR and on the appropriate
forum for discussions/negotiations on this issue.
1. Consumption abroad by citizens of a member country
(e.g. taking a course abroad);
One element of this debate is the role of WTO vis-à-vis that
2. Cross-border supply of a service (distance education);
of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as the
3. The commercial presence of a service supplier from
de-facto lead organization for IP matters. Many developing
member country A in the territory of member country B
countries continued to push for WIPO, where they were nu-
(foreign universities); and
merically superior to developed countries, as the lead organi-
4. The presence of natural persons from country A sup-
zation in IP matters. Special transition periods to phase
plying a given service in country B (e.g. foreign teachers
TRIPS commitments have been proposed for several devel-
in a country).
oping and least-developed countries. During the 1980s the
USA began to view GATT/WTO as the most promising fo-
The GATS is an important step in a process of 'opening'
rum for obtaining international intellectual property protec-
markets for services (including education) and the Millen-
tion, because it offered a dispute resulting mechanism that
nium Round of GATS negotiations is expected to ‘bring for-
could be used for IP matters.
ward’ the debate on the privatization of education. Only 40
of 143 Member States of WTO have agreed to fully imple-
In this framework, de-
ment GATS in the field of education.8 The GATS is there-
veloped countries ar- Only 40 of 143
fore not fully operational in the field of education, but its
gue that IP protection Member States of
implementation is indicative of the trend towards interna-
tional competition in national education markets.
promotes more rapid WTO have agreed to
economic growth and
development, while fully implement
The TRIPS relates to educational goods, and includes tech-
countries with less IP GATS in the field of
nology-related intellectual property such as computer soft-
ware.9 Computer software areas protected under TRIPS in-
protection have slower education.
evolution in size and
clude the prohibition of exact or near-exact copying of pro-
complexity of their
gram code and certain aspects of user interfaces.10 A Euro-
local markets. Therefore the argument follows that reforms
pean Union Directive on databanks aims to bring digital in-
of laws are a precondition to continued economic growth.
formation sources under the provisions of a copyright agree-
Benefits cited for stronger IP protection, aside from reduced
ment, meaning that many products in the public domain
enforcement and transaction costs, include increases in: do-
come under IPR protection once they are incorporated into
mestic investment and R&D; flow of new products, technol-
electronic databanks. In 1996, a lobby representing the inter-
ogy transfer; improvements in local knowledge and enhanced
ests of private companies such as Microsoft, Apple and IBM
value of patents.
proposed an article that would imply a 'pay per view' system
for Internet resources. This initiative was halted by a lobby
Numerous developing countries14 fear that protection of
that included Netscape, libraries and Internet Service Provid-
products and technology would enable large multinationals
ers who argued that such an act would “undermine the at-
to secure global monopolies and thereby charge exorbitant
tractiveness of the Net and seriously hamper free access to
prices for their goods. Arguments raised against increased
enforcement of IP protection include the risks of: under-
utilization of inventions (patents may simply be used to pre-
Critics stress that TRIPS opens the way for private busi-
vent others from making or selling the product in the national
nesses to appropriate public information and represents a
market); scarcity of essential commodities (many countries
danger to equitable participation in the emerging knowledge
believe that certain products and technologies should not be
society. These agreements reflect a bias towards trade inter-
included in the intellectual property protection regime); re-
ests of developed countries over national socio-cultural aspi-
duced autonomy (the resistance to the establishment of a

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uniform global standard); and the lack of stimulus for 'local this field. These groups tend to present the complete techno-
specific' products (most patents in developing countries are logical makeover of education as a matter of urgency.
issued to foreigners).
It is clear that investors are pouring ever-larger sums of start-
Some developing countries express more interest in technol- up capital into education businesses, a market that is cur-
ogy transfer than in the encouragement of domestic innova- rently still US-centric. The education and training industry is
tions and appropriating new technologies. The fundamental now North America’s second largest, accounting for nearly
premise of private property rights in industrialized countries - 10 percent of its GDP. It is also the fifth largest service ex-
that knowledge is a private capital – is challenged by a num- port at US$8.5 billion in 1997.20
ber of developing countries. It was argued that in some
countries certain forms of intellectual property are viewed as Almost all investment firms predict exponential growth, es-
a public good and that some cultures are hostile to any notion pecially for the online-distance education (e-learning) mar-
that knowledge is a private capital. ket. Speculations are impressive: ‘We expect and online
training market of US$4 billion in 1999, growing at 40 per-
The Private Sector as a cent annually (Merrill Lynch); it will exceed $7 billion by
2002 (IDC); it will nearly double in size every year through
New Education Protagonist 2003, reaching approximately $11.5 billion by that time (WR
Hambrecht+CO); $46 billion by 2005 with 50 percent to 85
The TRIPS and GATS legal agreements explicitly open the percent gross margins. (Piper Jaffray)’.21
doors for multinational companies to fill education market
niches and to compete with traditional institutions. The inte- In contrast, government publications (U.S. Department of
gration of ICTs and education is becoming both a key factor Education;22 Australian Department of Education)23 state that
for global economic success and a big business in itself. definitive figures on the size and growth of the industry are
UNDP (1999) highlights the direct link between control over not available. Some reports24 cite examples wherein large
information and economic returns.15 As stated in its 1999 companies finance studies by small ‘research institutes’,
Human Development Report, more than half of the GDP in which conveniently forecast exponential growth.
the major OECD countries is now 'knowledge-based'. It is at
present impossible to support this general statement with a
comprehensive assessment of the economics of ICTs and Education as A Public Good or
education. There are, however, a series of indicators that As A Commodity?
point to the increasing economic significance of the ICT
sector in international economies and some national econo- The development of the education market calls into question
mies. Important variables include the contribution of the ICT the role of education: is it a public good or a commodity?25
industry to the GDP of national economies and the role that What is the 'added value' of maintaining education as a pub-
ICTs play in overall business investments.16 This section lic good, assured by the State, especially in the cost-intensive
examines the growth of the Internet-based distance/online field of ICTs? How can the involvement of private industry,
learning trend, and then provides an analysis of cost- developing education as a commodity 'for profit' be benefi-
effectiveness of the different ICT-based learning options as a cial to the pupil? Where and how can educational content and
whole. services benefit best from the current growth of ICTs?

The private sector is very interested in getting a larger share Traditionally, the state assures the financing, provision, ad-
of what it calls the education market, where global public ministration, and regulation of educational activities. In prin-
spending tops one trillion dollars.17 This figure represents the ciple, the advantages of this system of 'education as a public
costs of over 50 million teachers, one billion pupils and stu- good' are: equitable access to education; quality education
dents and numerous educational establishments. Education for all (through the redistribution of resources, coherent
businesses (for-profit schools, publishers, school supply methodologies and the harmonization of curricula etc.);26 the
companies, corporate training firms, etc.) generate nearly promotion of civic responsibility and a common set of values
US$100 billion in revenue annually.18 (education that empowers people to contribute effectively to
the democratic development of the country); and the preser-
There is, however, a notable lack of reliable information vation of cultural diversity (promotion of a common lan-
concerning the scope and growth of this education market, guage and multilingualism).
particularly with regard to the e-learning market.19 This phe-
nomenon is largely explainable by the fact that hardware, Nevertheless, public education systems are often hampered
software, training and telecommunication companies, corpo- by difficulties in realizing their full potential due to factors
rate consulting firms, start-ups, franchises, etc. have an im- such as: severe budgetary constraints affecting quality and
portant financial interest in forecasting exponential growth in access;27 long-term planning objectives maintained by rigid,

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top-heavy bureaucratic structures that restrict the provision curtailment of nation-state sovereignty also carries certain
of up-to-date ICT training options;28 and lack of a clear strat- risks, when questions concerning social development are
egy for linking national education policy objectives to global being transferred to WTO and its arbitration procedures.
challenges arising from international diplomatic negotiations Likewise, new e-learning providers are not bound by the
(e.g. the GATS which effects national education systems, but norms and ideals of traditional higher education and thus
is decided in the international arena). might fail to link research and teaching, and to provide
community service, a comprehensive curriculum, or aca-
The provision of educational goods and services by private demic autonomy and control.
industry represents a means to meet some of the challenges
facing public education systems, discussed above. For ex- A serious risk of using public funding to support national
ample, a reduction of education costs and an increase in the education and ICT development is that it may only nurture
efficiency of educational programs seem possible with in- an illusion of egalitarianism, while differences in access to
creased competition between education suppliers.29 Ideally, computer communication in fact reinforce existing inequali-
private industry would be capable of providing custom- ties within the countries. Development agency investment in
tailored 'just-in-time' education based on good analysis of this sector has also been criticized as principally helping the
industry needs. It could primarily facilitate on-line education communications industries penetrate new markets and set up
content (vs. learner) mobility and access to the latest tech- new dependencies. The ICT development agenda, directed
nologies. In the past, private providers have also improved by powerful pressure groups, is driven by supply rather than
teaching quality in certain programs through the training and by demand, and is currently dominated by western educa-
evaluation of teaching staff as well as the recruitment and tional models and market leaders. Inherent risks in this con-
support of part-time staff with both practical and teaching text include the creation of monopolies of brand-name uni-
expertise.30 versities and celebrity professors, concentration of the own-
ership of content and communications system, as well as a
However, greater involvement of private industry in educa- shortage of affordable, high quality, relevant software in
tion brings risks that threaten the main objectives of public critical sections of the education market.32
education systems. Limited resources and lack of competi-
tion between suppliers may adversely affect quality, access, Though private industry, motivated by the growing ICT and
and price of educational services, as marginalized groups do education market, has the means to counter difficulties faced
not constitute a significant ‘target’ market.31 In addition, the by public education systems in specific fields (e.g. ICT
objective of private companies is not to develop autonomous, training classes for corporate management) and to contribute
critical future citizens, but workers and consumers. Other to the improvement of services, it might also weaken the last
risks include increased standardization/acculturation proc- inclusive fortresses, which form critical citizens on all levels
esses; dominance of foreign teaching models; lack of appro- - education systems. Each country needs to analyze these
priate educational content in local languages; threats to developments critically, to forecast risks and formulate
teachers’ working conditions (e.g. job security); and in- strategies that will take into account the interests of future
creased dependence on foreign educational resources. The generations.

Hamelink, Cess J.: Chapter 1, Human Development, in: World Communication and Information Report 1999-2000, cf. p. 43. Available at:
Dusollier, Séverine; Poullet, Yves; Buydens, Mireille 2000: Copyright and access to information in the digital environment. A study pre-
pared for the UNESCO congress Infoethics 2000, p. 4. Available at:
Dusollier, Séverine; Poullet, Yves; Buydens, Mireille 2000: Copyright and access to information in the digital environment. A study pre-
pared for the UNESCO congress Infoethics 2000, p. 4. Available at:
Dusollier, Séverine; Poullet, Yves; Buydens, Mireille 2000: Copyright and access to information in the digital environment. A study pre-
pared for the UNESCO congress Infoethics 2000, p.19. Available at:
Dusollier, Séverine; Poullet, Yves; Buydens, Mireille 2000: Copyright and access to information in the digital environment. A study pre-
pared for the UNESCO congress Infoethics 2000, p. 7. Available at:
Education International Public Services International, The WTO and the Millennium Round: What is at stake for Public Education? EI/PSI
joint Publication.
The two main principles of the GATS are the most favored nation principle (all GATS signatories get favorable treatment from each other)
and national treatment (foreign companies in market of a country get the same favorable treatment as national companies in operating in the

! 18 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

same market).
Education International and Public Services International: The WTO and the Millennium Round. What is at stake for Public Education?
Common concerns for workers in education and the public sector, Available at:
Gorlin, Jacques J. (1993) Update on International Negotiations on Intellectual Property Rights in Wallerstein, Mitchel, Mogee, Mary Ellen
and Roberta A. Schoen (eds) Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology, National Academy Press,
Washington DC, p.175.
Samuleson, Pamela (1993), A Case Study on Computer Programs. In Wallerstein, Mitchel, Mogee, Mary Ellen and Roberta A. Schoen
(eds.) Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology, National Academy Press, Washington DC p.295.
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD ) Info Tech project: ICTs and Social Development: the Global Policy
Context p.10.
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD ) Info Tech project: ICTs and Social Development: the Global Policy
Context p.10.
For the following paragraph, cf. Gutterman, Alan S. and Brown, Robert (Editors), Intellectual Property Laws of East Asia, Singapore,
Sweet & Maxwell Asia 1997 Chapter 1, Intellectual Property in the Global Marketplace.
The phasing of TRIPS agreements have been promoted for developing countries and in particular for LDCs. (Gutterman, Alan S. and
Brown, Robert (Editors), Intellectual Property Laws of East Asia, Singapore, Sweet & Maxwell Asia 1997, Chapter 1, Intellectual Property in
the Global Marketplace).
The growing significance of the ICT sector in international economies (and some national economies) are indicated by the contribution of
the ICT industry to the GDP of national economies, as well as by the role that ICTs play in overall business investments, cf. UNESCO 1999,
World Communication and Information Report 1999-2000, p. 34.
UNESCO 1999, World Communication and Information Report 1999-2000, p. 34.
Education International and Public Services International: The WTO and the Millennium Round. What is at stake for Public Education?
Common concerns for workers in education and the public sector, p. 2 Available at:
It is not clear if this is the revenue for the U.S. or the entire world, in: Peter Stokes 2000, e-learning: Education Businesses Transform
Schooling, White Paper prepared under contract to the American Institutes for Research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, Of-
fice of Educational Technology, p. 5.
E-learning is here defined as the use of connected (inter-, intranets) computers in education to provide programs that deliver instruction, to
facilitate communication between learner and tutor, or to enable students to have access to remote sources of information.
Stephen P. Heyneman (1999), How large is the International Market for Educational Technologies and Services? TechKnowLogia, No-
vember/December 1999, p 1. [Available at:]
Cross, Jay (2000): The e-learning FAQ. [Available at: on 21/7/00], p. 9.
Peter Stokes 2000, e-learning: Education Businesses Transform Schooling, White Paper prepared under contract to the American Institutes
for Research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.
Australian Department of Education (2000): The Business of Borderless Education. Evaluations and Investigations Programme, Higher
Education Division. Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 313 pages.
E.g. Cordes, Colleen and Miller, Edward (ed.): Fool’s gold: a critical look at computers in childhood. Alliance for Childhood, p. 98.
Education is first of all a human right and it will remain a public good, because education has substantial externalities. This means that the
public has a substantial interest in offering every individual a basic education. UNDP 1999, Global Public Goods: International Cooperation
in the 21st Century, edited by Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grundberg, and Marc A. Stern; Oxford University Press. Executive Summary,
Philippe Quéau 2000: Governing the Global Knowledge Society, p.7,
The increasing demand for lifelong education opportunities results in the limited resources often being inefficiently and inequitably dis-
tributed towards higher education, though this area has lower social rates of return than investments in primary and secondary education.
(Gerver Torres and Sarita Marthur 1995: The Third Wave of Privatization. The World Bank, Washington, D.C., p. 9. , accessed on 7/26/00).
Private: short term revenue versus public sector: longer term resource planning; also tension between curriculum requirements and flexi-
bility brought about by educational software; software quality criteria change fast, bureaucracy has difficulties to follow. OECD/CERI Proj-
ect (1999), ICT and the quality of learning, Educational Multimedia Software Quality Group, Record of meeting of experts, 15-16 April
1999, point 1.6.
The involvement of the private sector might thus help to overcome budgetary constraints effecting the public sector.
Australian Department of Education (2000): The Business of Borderless Education. Evaluations and Investigations Programme, Higher
Education Division. Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, p. XIII.
Private industry focuses on people and educational services with promises of high return on investments rather than equity and social re-
distribution. ICTs could have developed devices based on sound, touch, images or symbols which do not require literacy, but markets are the
driving force for technological developments, and the needs of illiterates in the developing world were, and still are, completely ignored
(UNESCO 1999, World Communication and Information Report 1999-2000, p. 33).
OECD/CERI (1999), Working paper by the OECD Secretariat on Educational Multimedia Partnership, 22/6/1999, p. 1.

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“Smart Villages” to put Egypt on IFC Invests in Information
the Regional IT Map Technology Education in India

Egypt is planning to build high-tech “smart villages” or IT The International Finance Corporation will help India bridge
business parks in an attempt to compete with Dubai, Jordan the digital divide gap by investing in student loans for
and Israel as the region’s technology hub. Egypt’s information technology education and financing a pilot
Communications Minister, Ahmed Nazif, touted Egypt as the project to develop Internet-based education for children in
gateway to Africa as well as a leader in media, television, Indian slums. Developed jointly by Citibank, NIIT (an
cinema and the Internet. The first “village” will build Indian e-business solutions organization), and IFC, the
outside Cairo, with a second planned for Mansoura, 125km student loan project will help provide access to information
north of Cairo, and a third in Alexandra. President Hosni technology education by financing tuition fees of students
Mubarak has allocated government land for these villages as from lower-income families. The pilot project, called "Hole
well as given them 10-year tax breaks. The private sector in the Wall", “aims to discover how much poor children in
has committed $26 million, from alliances with companies slums and rural areas of India can learn from a web-based
including Microsoft, IBM and Cisco. curriculum through a purpose-built Internet kiosk.”
Source: Balancing Act-Africa Source: NIIT Limited.

US Web-Based Education
South African Strategic Alliance to Commission Releases E-Learning
Bring Voice Interactive Distance Report
The Web-based Education Commission, on December 19,
A strategic alliance between MacroMagic Holdings and 1999, released the most comprehensive analysis to date on
CampusWise will bring advanced voice interactive distance how the Internet is being used to enhance e-learning at the K-
training via the Internet. The chosen technology, called 12, higher education, and corporate training levels. Findings
InterWise, will allow any student worldwide to participate, revealed that the Internet “enables education to occur in
regardless of time zone, and using the existing bandwidth places where there is none, extends resources where there are
infrastructure. The service will offer live instructor-led, few, expands the learning day, and opens the learning place.”
voice interactive training sessions that will provide a “unique It also “connects people, communities, and resources to
sense of community” and will enable students to participate support learning,” and it, “adds graphics, sound, video, and
in application sharing and teachers to utilize evaluation tools interaction to give teachers and students multiple paths for
that will enable them to continuously monitor the students’ understanding.” On the other hand, the report finds that the
progress. The minimum technology requirements for Internet can also increase the technological gap between the
participation are a computer with Internet access on a “haves” and “have nots.”
standard telephone line, a sound card, and a headset with a
microphone. The Web-based Education Commission was established in November 1999, by Congress to develop specific policy
asp recommendations geared toward maximizing the educational
Source: Balancing-Act Africa promise of the Internet for pre-K, elementary, middle,
secondary, and post secondary education learners. It is made
up of 16 members, all appointed by Congress.

The report is available on the Commission’s website at: .

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Computer Simulations
And Policy Analysis
Noel F. McGinn
Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

Why Simulations used, and how we can assess their utility. A concluding
section offers an argument for greater use of simulations in
policy analysis.
Simulations are used to study situations we do not yet fully
understand. If we had enough data and understanding, a
mathematical or algorithmic model could provide valid
answers to a problem. In many circumstances, however, we Structured Simulations
lack understanding and cannot collect data. In the heat of the
policy process there is not enough time, authority or These simulations begin with the definition of a problem
resources, and data collection might create unrealizable situation. The next step defines the dimension along which
expectations or generate resistance to future reforms. various types of simulations can be arranged.
Simulations or representations of reality permit “innovation”
with less risk of doing harm and at less cost of time and Single-step, Non-interactive Simulations
resources. A simulation can serve as an operating theory
which we “test” against our experience and best judgment. One class of structured simulations is those in which all
Some simulations allow players to assess how well they have choices and their impact on outputs of the simulation are
done; these are called simulation games in which participants specified in advance. One type is designed to generate
or players compete against an underlying model or against responses to a single input of data. The operator sets the
other players. initial values of the model, which then produces results. The
simulations may be run many times to define a “best”
Simulations for policy analysis can be sorted into two solution or policy option. Examples are models that allow
families. In one family are those that use algorithms to users to vary conditions and estimate:
simulate how a system operates. Users’ choices and possible
outputs are specified in advance. These simulations • future enrollments (Hoenack, 1997; Richardson &
sometimes are called structured or closed: they include Lamitie, 1989);
single-step as well as so-called interactive or decision tree • internal efficiency (Schiefelbein, 1991);
simulations. In these simulations the policy context and • public finance (Wassmer & Fisher, 1996); and
process is defined a priori. Objectives are fixed, and all • costs over time (Andersen, 1980).
constraints are known. Operation of the simulation points to
a “best choice” policy. They also have been used to estimate:
In the second family are simulations in which definitions of • supply of teachers as a function of training, aging,
“good” or “best” answers vary by situation according to retirement and death;
participants and judges. These are known as unstructured or • the impact of changes in inputs (e.g., teacher training vs.
open simulations. They are based on transactions between textbooks vs. class size) (Webster, 1997); and
several actors with competing objectives; constraints become
• supply of graduates for the labor market.
known through action. Policy is the result of negotiation; it is
a product of multiple decisions by several actors.
One of the earliest (and most complex) simulations of this
type used linear programming to estimate the feasibility of
The next two sections described several of each kind of
different kinds of policies in the context of a national reform.
simulation. A third section discusses how simulations are
The model estimated flows of students through the system,

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levels of training of workers in the labor force, numbers of allocations on educational indicators such as enrollment,
teachers, annual costs for training students, teachers and class size, gender equity and internal efficiency, as well as
workers, space available for students, and number of workers indicators of economic growth, public health and population
required in the labor force. The model first revealed that growth. Players represent the staff of a ministry of education
targets (for the labor force) could be met only by expansion charged with resource allocation through the annual budget.
of secondary education. The simulation then permitted an Normally, the simulation takes players through five rounds
assessment of the cost feasibility of alternative policies (such or annual budgets. External “events” that occur in several
as automatic promotion, improved teacher quality and rounds require that players reconsider the strategies they are
reduced repetition) (Schiefelbein & Davis, 1974). developing.

Another type permits a single user to interact with the model, REDUC (the Latin American Network of Centers of
inputting data in response to the model’s response to earlier Educational Research) has produced six policy analysis
inputs. If the first kind of simulation is used to estimate simulations. These combine structured and unstructured
likely outcomes from policy choices, this second kind is used elements (Heuristica educativa, 1998). Players assume roles
most often to estimate the sensitivity of the (assumed) within a government agency, and must negotiate with other
situation to a series of policy decisions. The relationships actors to determine allocation of scarce resources. An
between user inputs and outputs are probabilistic rather than underlying mathematical model generates system responses
fixed. Unexpected outcomes require the user to keep more to these allocations, which then stimulate further
variables in mind and to think strategically. In principle, any negotiations. The structure and logic of the simulations is as
single step deterministic simulation could be converted to an follows:
interactive simulation by multiplying each coefficient by a
probability matrix. Technicians doing policy analysis use • In teams, participants study a prepared case of a
single-step simulations most frequently. The main goal is to fictitious developing country and formulate a diagnosis
generate the best response given the information built into and strategy for improvement.
the model underlying the simulation. • Teams acting as representatives of the government
allocate resources among various pre-determined policy
Multi-step or Interactive Simulations options. The simulation provides information about costs
and coverage for each policy. Team members represent
These simulations are most appropriate when more than one different sectors within the government; they compete to
decision-maker is involved in setting policy, that is, when the convince the president that their sector should receive
policy process is seen as requiring political as well as the resources sought.
technical inputs. Because they can be used to generate more • At the end of each of three periods, the simulation model
than one feasible and likely outcome, they are used primarily reports the effectiveness of the team’s policy choices.
to identify alternative policy packages and a range of The cycle of resource allocation is repeated. (See “Using
outcomes rather than to identify a “best answer.” Technology to Manage Education Information” in this
issue of TechKnowLogia for more information on
Exemplary of this kind of simulation is APEX (Assessing REDUC).
Policies for Educational Excellence) (Healey, 1984). The
underlying model shows the effects on enrollments, costs, A third type of multi-step simulation presents participants
and school quality as a result of decisions affecting class with an initial problem situation for which they must choose
size, teacher training and other inputs. The model was among pre-determined policy options. Ensuing problem
sufficiently complex to allow users to vary sets of variables situations presented by the simulation are determined by the
simultaneously. The simulation was developed initially to participants’ choices, that is, the simulation reacts to the
assist the Opposition to the Apartheid government of South participants’ choices. Players experience simulations of this
Africa to anticipate the consequences of government- kind as "interactive," but it should be noted that in fact the
proposed education reforms. Groups first discussed what underlying model is fixed. They might be likened to a
they thought would happen if policies were changed, then decision tree that permits choices that can describe a finite
compared their speculations with the model’s results. After number of paths.
the transition to a democratic government, APEX was used
extensively to educate citizen groups on what reasonably One example of this kind of model is DECIDE (Welsh &
could be expected from various policy reforms. McGinn, 1999), a computer-based simulation designed to be
used by teams that discuss where to locate decision making
Another kind of multi-step simulation is EPICS. This runs as to solve the problem presented by the computer. The
a table game in which the players’ decisions are scored by an sequences of situations that follow correspond to the school
underlying computer model that calculates the impact of calendar and are reactive to the participants’ choices. Each

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new situation provides text evaluating the previous choice in software serially presents participants with information from
terms of whether it solves the initial problem or generates “interruptions, investigations and walkthroughs” to which
new ones. The participants’ progress is “scored” in reference they indicate how they would respond (Maynes, et al., 1996).
to whether they are able to keep up with the school calendar. Simulations for university officials provide them with case
studies and a simulated planning exercise (Morrison &
These multi-step simulations are designed to be used in Brock, 1991). Simulations are used to train students in policy
training seminars in which prior modules provide analysis and leadership (Menton, 1994; Pickert, 1992), and
information about policy options and their effectiveness. In teachers in decision-making (Simon, et al., 1995).
addition, the simulations themselves contain [Help] screens
or printed information linked to the specific choices facing Some educational policy decisions are made in a highly
the participants. Often, a final training module is structured conflictive arena involving multiple actors. Each of the
to debrief participants and synthesize the policy principles actors may come to the arena armed with results from the use
that have been learned. of some model, but each model is likely to be designed to
maximize different values or objectives. One or more actors
may seek to understand the prior objectives of the others, and
Unstructured Simulations to include those in their personal simulation model. What
their model cannot do, however, is anticipate how the other
actors will react to the actions taken by the “informed” actor.
Some problems are so complex, or so little understood, that it
The situation is something like that in the game of chess.
is not possible to construct an underlying model. One
Not only does the opponent have multiple options for
objective of unstructured simulations is to generate
moving pieces at any given moment, but she/he may also
information that contributes to improved understanding.
choose to try for a Win or a Draw. High-speed computers
compete successfully with champion chess players by
The well-known Delphi technique serves this purpose. The
assessing the risk of every possible counter to the opponent’s
technique was developed originally by the US military to
move. This is seldom feasible in real world policy situations
anticipate possible Soviet reactions to an accidental missile
that have more options and actors than does chess.
launch by the United States. US participants took the roles of
Unstructured simulations provide minimal rules about
Soviet officials and responded within their roles to an
players’ choices; “scoring” is generally in terms of achieving
extensive set of questions. Answers were collated and
objectives (that may change with the course of play).
presented to participants; those with deviant responses were
asked to justify their position. This process was continued
until participants reached a stable set of positions.
How are Simulations Used?
Latin America recently applied the Delphi technique with
respect to educational policy alternatives. One study asked In some instances several simulations (or a mega simulation)
experts to comment on the effectiveness, cost and likelihood can be used for training in the policy process. One example
of implementation of a wide variety of policies for primary simulates an educational reform process, with simulations of
education, for which there is insufficient empirical research. definition of mission, problem identification, problem
Those who varied from the central tendency on a given analysis, and implementation (Rowley & Hudzina, 1995).
alternative had to explain their reasoning. The final product
is a set of simulated data, based on informed speculation. In The Utility of Simulations
this case, the study produced several conclusions that
contradict current policy initiatives (Schiefelbein, Wolff, & Simulations are used primarily to expand understanding. One
Schiefelbein, 1999). categorization distinguishes between tactical-decision
simulations (such as resource allocation), and social process
Role playing simulations are used widely as training simulations (Gredler, 1992). The former include as purposes:
devices. They make it possible for participants to experience • collect tacit knowledge and define complex problems;
(at low risk and low cost) some of the arguments and • experience the sequence of events in a complex process;
processes that take place in policy analysis. Sometimes • broaden understanding of critical variables; and
computer software is included that contains information, or • learn about likely outcomes to resource allocation.
programs the sequence of decision situations. For example,
simulations are used to train school principals in school Social process simulations, on the other hand, serve
management or operational policy analysis. In an early primarily to provide experience in the range of objectives
version, the “In-Basket” simulation, participants were and actions that actors can take in the process of constructing
presented with serial memoranda from staff describing policies.
problems to be resolved. In a more recent version, computer

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Simulations, unlike research experiments, do not test simulation models are used to shape public opinion in a
hypotheses against reality. On the other hand, their objective desired direction.
is to improve our understanding of the reality that is
simulated. This poses a dilemma. Unless we argue that a
given problem has a best answer or that only certain
objectives are permissible, there is no way to demonstrate
that use of simulations results in “better” decisions.
Empirical research describes what has already happened. In a
rapidly changing world, the validity of conventional research
findings can quickly fade. On the other hand, systematic
How to Evaluate understanding cannot proceed without objective information.
Simulation Programs Simulations offer a means to study situations of rapid change
and high complexity that conventional empirical research
Evaluations of simulations focus on characteristics of the
cannot handle. Suppose, for example, we want to assess the
simulation itself, or on attitudes and behaviors of participants
possible impacts of new forms of education. A conventional
during and after the simulation. A good simulation has to
experiment will take years to deliver results. Simulation of
be credible if participants are to generalize to real-world
critical elements in the new forms may, however, yield
situations. This includes the problem definition, the sequence
valuable insights into problems and promises.
of events, the options available to participants, and
consequences of those actions. Non-structured or open
There is, of course, a risk involved. Simulations are not
situations have to define roles well enough so that
reality but can be very convincing. They share that quality
participants create a believable situation, yet avoid
with many of the development hypotheses offered as the
conditioning what participants do.
latest truth. In persuading a naïve decision-maker to jump to
action, reality can be made to imitate art, with disastrous
The simulation, or a series of simulations, has to run long
consequences. In a highly turbulent environment, or in a
enough for participants to form and test generalizations that
situation calling for radical reform, policy choices based on
result in re-organization of thinking and behavior. The
structured simulations are especially suspect. Simulations of
insights gained from running simulations might be about the
this type rely heavily on the past for their models of reality:
effectiveness of specific policy choices, or about the
they are the wrong vehicle to carry us into the future.
sensitivity of the simulated system to different changes. They
may also be about the kinds of factors, processes and social
Risks of peremptory action are reduced by broadening the
actors that must be taken into account in policy analysis.
range of actors involved in the policy process. Unstructured
These can include variations in physical inputs, in the
simulations can be highly useful procedures not only for
identity and objectives or values of the actors involved in the
identification of new policy alternatives but also for
policy process, or the sequence of events in the process itself.
generation of consensus around objectives and policies to
achieve them. The simulation provides a systematic means to
A common criterion for evaluation of a simulation is whether
make explicit the tacit knowledge of various actors, and to
experts find it thought provoking and credible. When the
construct a shared perspective on the problem situation.
credibility of a simulation is high, its results can be used as if
These simulations are an important tool for reformers
they had empirical validity, and may play a decisive role in
seeking a new education.
policy struggles. For example, the results of sophisticated

Andersen, D. F. (1980). Using Feedback Simulation to Test Educational Finance Policies. Policy Sciences, 12(3), 315-331.

Gredler, M. (1992). Designing and Evaluating Games and Simulations. Houston TX: Gulf Publishing Company.

Healey, F. H. (1984). Policy Support in South Africa: An Emerging Paradigm. The Forum for Advancing Basic Education and
Literacy, 3(4).

Heuristica educativa. Santiago: UNESCO/OREALC, 1998.

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Hoenack, S. A. (1997). An Application of a Structural Model of School Demand and Supply To Evaluate Alternative Designs
of Voucher Education Systems. Economics of Education Review, 16(1), 1-14.

Maynes, B., & et al. (1996). Computer-Based Simulations of the School Principalship: Preparation for Professional Practice.
Educational Administration Quarterly, 32(4), 579-94.

Menton, L. K. (1994). The Use of Simulation as a Teaching Strategy for Civic Understanding and Participation. Teaching
History: A Journal of Methods, 19(1), 3-18.

Morrison, J. L., & Brock, D. M. (1991). Organizational Planning and Policy Analysis: Combining Theory with Experiential
Learning. Innovative Higher Education, 15(2), 137-51.
Pickert, S. M. (1992). Using Simulations to Teach Leadership Roles. Teaching Education, 5(1), 37-42.

Richardson, G. P., & Lamitie, R. E. (1989). Improving Connecticut School Aid: A Case Study with Model-Based Policy
Analysis. Journal of Education Finance, 15(2), 169-88.

Rowley, K., & Hudzina, M. (1995). Mega Planning: A Simulated Re-Invention of U.S. Public Schools. International Journal
of Educational Reform, 4(3), 271-84.

Schiefelbein, E. (1991). Efficiency and Quality of Latin American Education. Santiago, Chile: OREALC-UNESCO.

Schiefelbein, E., & Davis, R. G. (1974). Development of Educational Planning Models and Application in the Chilean School
Reform. Lexington MA: Lexington Books.

Schiefelbein, E., Wolff, L., & Schiefelbein, P. (1999). El Costo Efectividad de las Politicas de Educacion Primaria en America
Latina: Estudio basado en la opinion de expertos. Boletin del PREALC, 49.

Simon, S., & et al. (1995). The Simulated Class as a Method for Studying Teacher Decision Making. Computers in Human
Behavior, 11(2), 163-80.

Wassmer, R. W., & Fisher, R. C. (1996). An Evaluation of the Recent Move to Centralize the Finance of Public Schools in
Michigan. Public Budgeting & Finance, 16(3), 90-112.

Webster, T. (1997). Cost Analysis and its Use in Simulation of Policy Options: The Papua New Guinea Education Finance
Model. International Review of Education/Internationale Zeitschrift Fuer Erziehungswissenschaft/Revue Internationale de
L'Education, 43(1), 5-22.

Welsh, T., & McGinn, N. (1999). DECIDE: A Simulation of Relocating Decision Making in Education Systems (Version 4)
[CD]. Washington DC: Academy for Educational Development.

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New Technologies
For Automated Essay Test Scoring
Richard Swartz
President, ETS Technologies

ETS Technologies, a new subsidiary of Educational Testing Service, was established with
the goal of bringing ETS's many technological innovations in the field of assessment to
institutions of higher education, community colleges, school districts, and online learning
partners. The current focus of ETS Technologies' efforts is on enhancing the use of learning
and assessment tools by providing automated scoring capabilities built upon natural
language processing (NLP) technology. ETS is a leader in the field of NLP research and is
noted for the development of e-rater™, an automated essay scoring capability currently used
in the scoring of essays written by Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) ™
examinees. ETS Technologies' first product, Criterion Online Writing Evaluation, is a web-
based service that incorporates the e-rater scoring engine to provide students and teachers
with score feedback on writing samples. Ongoing e-rater research is focusing on providing
additional information about a student's writing ability that will aid in the improvement of
writing skills. ETS Technologies' scientists are also conducting research on the development
of c-rater, an application that evaluates the conceptual accuracy of short-answer responses.

E-rater™ Proven highly effective and accurate, e-rater has provided

one of the two scores for over 600,000 examinee responses
E-rater is a groundbreaking automated essay scoring system to essay questions administered as part of the GMAT. The
developed at ETS by Dr. Jill Burstein and other researchers agreement rate between e-rater and expert faculty readers on
in natural language processing, a sub-field of artificial GMAT essays consistently exceeds 97 percent.
intelligence. The e-rater system is designed to score essays
based on an analysis of writing features as reflected in Many of the NLP techniques used in automated essay
holistic scoring rubrics. E-rater is an extraordinary scoring are described in research reports and studies
automated essay scoring technology now available to available at
institutions and corporations. For over a decade, ETS has
been researching the characteristics of natural language and How E-rater Works
how to devise computer programs to evaluate writing. While e-rater is a powerful scoring engine, it is not meant to
Building on earlier research, ETS scientists took the general replace a teacher whose judgment is essential to helping
qualities of writing - syntactic variety, topic content, and students improve their writing ability. E-rater learns to score
organization of ideas - and found ways to directly measure essays on a particular topic by processing a significant
each quality and automatically extract them from essays number of essays on the topic, each of which has been scored
using natural language processing (NLP) and information by two or more faculty readers.
retrieval (IR) techniques. The result was an automated
scoring technology that allows the computer to be taught the E-rater replicates the scoring process of expert faculty
features of writing and provide accurate writing assessment. readers when they judge writing. Like faculty readers, e-rater
The system is designed to analyze two types of essays: evaluates essays in terms of salient features reflected in a
analysis of an issue and analysis of an argument. E-rater
scores a word-processed essay within seconds.

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scoring rubric (also called a scoring guide). These features combinations of words (e.g., phrases and clauses) in it to all
include: of the words and combinations of words in the training set.
E-rater does not count the number of words in an essay;
• Structure: Syntactic variety, or the use of various instead it looks for particular words and groups of words that
structures in the arrangement of phrases, clauses, and have meaning in relation to the topic and the content found in
sentences; all the training papers.
• Organization: Characteristics associated with the
orderly presentation of ideas, such as rhetorical features E-rater Advisory Messages
and linguistic cues (logical connections between If e-rater cannot make a connection between a particular
sentences and clauses); and essay and the essays upon which the model was built, then
• Content: Vocabulary related to the topic, such as no score is displayed to the writer. Rather, one of several
relevant information and precise or specialized possible Advisory messages is displayed. These Advisory
vocabulary. messages give the writer information that may help them to
improve their essay.
E-rater is trained on these features by analyzing large
samples of essays that have been scored by expert readers. When an Advisory message is displayed, it is for one of the
E-rater is fed sample essays representing each score point on following reasons:
the scoring scale (or scoring rubric) and uses NLP techniques • Compared to other essays written on this topic, the essay
to replicate the scoring performance of readers. It goes contains more repetition of words and phrases.
through this process of feature analysis and model building • Compared to other essays written on this topic, the essay
for each essay topic that it scores. Thus, the final set of is briefer and less well developed.
features (that is, the model) used to compute scores is likely • Compared to other essays written on this topic, the essay
to differ somewhat across topics. might not be relevant to the assigned topic.
• Compared to other essays written on this topic, the essay
E-rater features must not only be predictive of readers' appears to be a restatement of the essay topic with few
scores, but also must have some logical correspondence to additional details.
the features that readers are instructed to consider when they • The essay does not resemble other essays written on this
award scores. These characteristics are specified in the topic. It may exhibit a unique style or vocabulary or a
scoring rubric that guides readers when they score essays. pattern of development not typically found in other
After evaluating these features, e-rater generates a holistic essays written on this topic.
(or overall) score based on what it has learned about essays • The essay is too brief to evaluate.
on that particular topic.
Experienced writers, teachers, and writing assessment
Try E-rater specialists have tested e-rater to determine the extent to
If you would like to see how e-rater works, you can select a which it "understands" the content of essay responses. Some
sample essay on a demo topic and submit it to e-rater for of these writers have submitted essays that have tricked e-
scoring. Several seconds later, you will see the e-rater score rater into giving a score even though the essay does not make
assigned to that essay, along with a descriptive text any sense. The individual words in these "challenge essays"
associated with that score point. Access the website at are grammatically correct, but they are strung together in for information and such a way that they create nonsense sentences. Advisory
instructions. messages serve to alert writers that e-rater can intercept
many essays that are not authentic responses to the essay
Caveats topic.
An e-rater score will be most beneficial to students who
make a good faith effort at using it to improve their writing Using E-rater
skills. When writers respond to the topic and develop an To make use of e-rater, institutions and companies may
essay response in the suggested time, they will receive a either use standard writing prompts available from ETS
score that corresponds to a reader's evaluation based on the Technologies or they may develop their own writing
scoring criteria for that topic. It is important to remember prompts. Standard writing prompts from ETS Technologies
that e-rater is a software program. It cannot read or respond are ready-to-use, since e-rater scoring models have already
to an essay as a teacher would. The computer learns to score been built for them. Those who choose to develop
essays on each topic by comparing linguistic features of customized writing prompts must then collect essay
writing that match a large group of "training" essays at each responses to these prompts, score them, and transmit them to
score point on the score scale. The resulting model is used to ETS Technologies such that an e-rater scoring model can be
evaluate a student's essay by comparing all of the words and built and certified.

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scoring in a single batch. A file of essay scores, associated
In order for e-rater to build a scoring model for a topic, it with individual essays, would be returned to the institution.
must first be trained by analyzing essays written on that
topic. These essays must each have received two scores from Uses of Criterion
independent readers who have been trained to apply scoring Writing teachers and other educators have suggested three
standards consistently and fairly. This pool of training essays uses for Criterion
must also represent the entire scoring scale (most often a
scale from 1-6), so that e-rater can be trained to recognize 1. Supplement to Classroom Instruction
essays at each of the score points. If the scores are not At the beginning of a course, instructors can get a global
assigned consistently and accurately, then e-rater will not be assessment of a class's writing ability without grading each
able to ascertain what a "6" essay looks like and how it student's essay. Early in a course, an instructor can select
differs from a "5" essay, and so on. Thus, the reliability of a one of Criterion's topics as a first assignment, using the
customized scoring model depends, to a large extent, on the results as the basis for individual writing conferences or any
quality of the scoring process and on having the necessary other instructional application. The same topic can be used
number of essays at each score point across the scoring scale. at the mid-term and/or end of the course to track
If there are not enough "6" essays in the training data, then e- improvement. On the basis of one or two Criterion
rater will not learn to accurately recognize an essay that evaluations, an instructor may refer students to a writing lab
deserves a "6" when essays are submitted for e-rater scoring. or resource center for early intervention. During a course,
students can benefit from ongoing writing and revising
To build a customized scoring model, you will need practice, and from obtaining immediate feedback, all of
• Scoring standards clearly defined in a scoring rubric (or which remains a part of an individual portfolio. This
scoring guide); opportunity provides practice with or without instructor
• An essay topic that reflects the writing task represented involvement.
in the scoring rubric;
• A student population identical or similar to the 2. Learning Center or Resource Room Instruction
population who will be using the topic; and and Feedback
• Two independent reader scores for each essay response. Tutors and resource teachers can use a student's essay
response and score for baseline and ongoing evaluation. With
this information, both tutor and student can set goals and
create activities to develop the writer's skills and confidence.
Students who visit the Learning Center on an "as needed"
basis can write on an authentic topic and receive standards-
based feedback. Instructors can collaborate with tutors and
resource teachers to design writing and revising strategies for
students who need individualized instruction or targeted
ETS Technologies' first product, Criterion Online Writing practice to correct specific writing problems.
Evaluation, is a web-based service that incorporates the e-
rater scoring engine and provides students in middle-school, 3. Placement in Writing Courses
high school, and college with instant score feedback on The e-rater score should be considered as one piece of
writing samples they submit. The Criterion service is evidence about a student's writing ability. When an e-rater
designed to supplement writing instruction; it expands score is being used for an important decision about a
opportunities for learners to practice writing and receive student's performance, instructors should review and evaluate
reliable feedback based on widely accepted standards. the e-rater score to ensure that the appropriate decision about
Licensed to academic institutions, Criterion offers students placement or performance has been made. Colleges and
an opportunity to improve their skills by writing and revising universities may require all incoming students to write on
in a self-paced, risk-free environment. From September one of Criterion's topics under timed testing conditions. On
through December 2000, more than 50 schools and colleges the basis of these results, students can be assigned to the
throughout the U.S. participated in a pilot of Criterion. appropriate level of writing course. During the first week of
Feedback from pilot institutions will help enhance Criterion class, instructors can confirm placement by assigning
service. students a Criterion topic and reviewing the feedback.
Appropriate changes in class assignments can be made early.
For institutions with no need for real-time scoring, ETS
Technologies will soon make available a batch scoring Topics and Rubrics
service. This service will permit institutions to collect word-
Criterion's topics are designed for different purposes and
processed essays from their users and submit them for
grade levels. In Version 1, Criterion provides essay topics in

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three different categories that can be used in a variety of
instructional applications:
• College-level topics used for placement decisions and/or C-rater or concept-rater is an exciting automated scoring
in introductory composition or developmental writing technology under development at ETS Technologies. Our
courses. scientists are exploring the feasibility of automating the
• Academic skills topics used for assessing general scoring of short-answer content-based responses to questions
writing ability. These topics may also be suitable for such as those that appear in a textbook's chapter review
upper-level high school students. section.
• National standards topics used in 8th and 12th grade
expository writing classes. ETS Technologies is now conducting research that explores
the feasibility of automated scoring of short-answer content-
When selecting a group of topics for students, it is important based responses, such as those based on questions that
to consider the following: appear in a textbook's chapter review section. Research
• Appropriateness of the writing test for the population; scientists, Dr. Claudia Leacock and Dr. Martin Chodorow,
have developed an automated scoring prototype, concept-
• Suggested writing time for the task; and
rater (c-rater), using natural language processing technology,
• Features in the rubric that shaped the automated scoring
and have evaluated its effectiveness at producing
"right/wrong" or "credit/no credit" ratings. Initial results are
encouraging; c-rater achieved over 80 percent agreement
While college-level students could respond to the 8th grade
with the score assigned by an instructor. If successful, this
essay topic, their score feedback would reflect how their
research has the potential to evolve into an automated
writing compares to 8th grade writing -- not college-level
scoring application that would be appropriate for evaluating
short-answer constructed responses in online instruction and
assessment applications.
Within the Criterion web-based service, a "test" is an essay
topic. Your school or institution will select the topics your
To enhance this research program, ETS Technologies is
students will use during the pilot. These topics will be
interested in collaborative research projects with institutions
grouped and located in your account, and students will be
assessing students' responses online and with companies
directed to a website location to access them. "Take a Test"
offering online instruction. For such collaborations, the
shows you what students will do and see as they access
institution or company would provide:
Criterion's topics.
• Short-answer questions used in an online course
application, for which the desired responses consist of a
Teacher Participant Report
concept (e.g., a definition or a summary) about two or
Instructors have access to each student's file, grouped by three sentences long;
class or section. These files are organized by student name. • The digital form of the textbook or materials on which
Instructors can review all essays and scores within each file the course is based;
and can print the report and all contents for classroom or
• "Gold standard" answers to each of the questions,
conference use. When you open the Teacher Participant
written by at least two content experts or instructors; and
Report, you will see the Enterprise Reporter screen.
• Approximately 100 students' online responses to the
Enterprise Reporter offers five types of reports. The reports
questions, with scores by content experts using the "gold
that currently appear have limited functionality at this time.
standard" answers.
A sample of student essays and scores is included in the
Participant Report and List Report to demonstrate a few of
Those interested in discussing research opportunities can
the functions that were available to pilot participants.
contact Claudia Leacock at:
Student Participant Report
When students submit essays for scoring, they will receive
an immediate report with the score and the features of Further Information
writing associated with that score point. Students may track For more information on ETS Technologies and e-rater, c-
their progress by accessing their reports to see all essays (or rater, and Criterion Online Writing Evaluation, see the
tests) they have written. These reports are organized by date, website,
and indicate essay topic, essay response, score, and printing

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Smoothing the Process of the Project Cycle
Aimee Verdisco
Carlos Gargiulo
Inter-American Development Bank

In all matters relating to public policy: implementation mat- throughout the FHIS target area. In addition, more than half
ters, good ideas rarely suffice. Good ideas may lead to good of the net increase in supply of education can be traced to
project designs but, unless good designs lead to good imple- public works initiated by the FHIS; this, in turn, has led to a
mentation, the chances are slim that good projects will pro- reduction in student/teacher ratio from 45 in 1993 to 37 in
duce good results. The differences are not merely abstract. 1998. Yet, in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, US$80 million in
Although not all ideas are equally easy to implement, in the projects has been backlogged and capacities for rapidly dis-
end what separates a good project from a bad one is the fit bursing funds and responding to local demands have been
between the complexity of the operation and the capabilities stretched, perhaps too thinly.
of the implementing institution(s). Good projects are imple-
To ease these processes and smooth the operation, FHIS is
SOCIAL INVESTMENT FUNDS banking on the potential of computers and the Internet. With
Drawing from recent experiences in the world of develop- the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, the
ment policy, the social investment funds (SIFs) provide par- Fund is in the process of computerizing the project cycle in
ticularly illustrative examples of the relation between project the 20 municipalities with adequate administrative and tech-
design, implementation, and results. Social investment funds nological infrastructure.1 Technology is seen as an immediate
are autonomous entities originally created (early 1990s) as and effective means for boosting the institutional capacities
temporary mechanisms for mitigating the adverse effects of of these municipalities, especially in matters dealing with the
structural adjustment on the poor (see Goodman, et al., 1997; formulation and implementability of projects. As computeri-
Tendler and Serrano, 1999). Most remain in operation today. zation of the FHIS project cycle takes hold, many responsi-
Justifications leading to their creation and prolonging their bilities will be delegated directly to local communities, thus
existence may vary, but largely they are grounded in a belief generating gains in administrative efficiency and local own-
that social investment funds offer what line ministries gener- ership of projects. The transition between project formulation
ally lack: institutional capacities, flexibility, and demand- and implementation also will be smoothed. Computerization
drive. Social investment funds owe their creation precisely to not only boosts capacities necessary to translate ideas into
a desire to get around weak, overly centralized and fiscally concrete policy (e.g., the timely payment and processing of
strapped ministries and to rapidly deliver goods and services requests, communication between interested parties, and
to local communities. Insofar as these structures are parallel community participation). It also insulates the project cycle
to but distinct from line ministries, they are not subject to from undue politicization, making it more transparent and
civil service or procurement regulations of the state. Dis- easily accessible to local populations. Technology is a tech-
bursement of funds and implementation of works thus are nical tool to help ensure that all projects created and imple-
deemed to be more timely and efficient. mented through the FHIS are, in the end, good - imple-
mentable - projects.
The Honduran Social Investment Fund (FHIS, for its abbre-
viation in Spanish), created in 1990 as a decentralized arm of OPERATIONAL DELEGATION OF THE PROJECT
the Office of the Presidency and recently extended through CYCLE
2012, falls squarely along these lines. Its main activities, past FHIS, like most social investment funds, seeks to reduce
and present, focus on the formulation and implementation of poverty by increasing access to basic social services. Its mo-
local development projects in the fields of education, health, dus operandi relies on participation from local communities
potable water, sewage, and small-scale roads. Indeed, the and governments. Indeed, all FHIS projects start with the
Fund has had considerable success: since its inception, an needs of and input from intended beneficiaries, building up-
estimated US$35-40 million is invested annually and various and outwards to frame these needs in a parlance and format
indicators of poverty have shown improvement. The con- understood by governments and their technocrats. The dele-
struction of rural health centers has increased access to pro- gation of the project cycle and its computerization both
fessional medical care, and water quality has been improved strengthens and eases these processes.

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Operational delegation of the project cycle complements a lies the appeal of computerization and Internet technology: to
decentralized mode of service delivery. The starting point is a very real extent, they have the potential to narrow the gaps
the local level, and in the case of Honduras, the 20 munici- that jeopardize implementability.
palities referred to above. These municipalities will assume
responsibilities for the identification of FHIS projects, the NUTS AND BOLTS
formulation of these projects, their execution and all mainte- Municipal governments eligible for the delegation of the
nance; the FHIS retains the roles of financier and evaluator. project cycle can chose either to adopt the FHIS software or
adapt their existing software to FHIS requirements. In the
The relationship between the municipal government and the case of the latter, eleven data fields must appear:
FHIS perhaps is best understood through the analogy of a
second-tier institution. Even in instances where resources I. Project Eligibility
transferred from the FHIS to the municipality are not reim- II. Project Identification
bursable, the analogy still holds. First, the FHIS extends a Field 1: Prioritization of request
line of financing to the municipality and does so with strings Field 2: FHIS acceptance of project
- controls - attached. For one, initial disbursement does not III. Project Formulation
exceed 40% of total projected costs. The municipality is ex- Field 3: Design of project
pected to have resources on hand to cover advancements to Field 4: Evaluation of project design
contractors. These resources serve to "guarantee" the mu- Field 5: Revision of project design
nicipality's commitment to the project at hand. As costs are Field 6: Approval of design by Operations Com-
estimated and verified, the FHIS reimburses the municipal- mittee
ity. Secondly, management information systems utilized for Field 7: Work out details for contractual arrange-
purposes of the project cycle are to be kept separate from ments with FHIS. Presentation of municipal guar-
those utilized for the municipality more generally. Although antee to FHIS
some overlap between such systems is likely to occur, inde- Field 8: Receipt of initial disbursement from FHIS
pendence is necessary to ensure transparency and proper IV. Project Execution
accounting of FHIS resources. Third, project cycle systems Field 9: Control and monitoring of implementation;
are to be made public and are subject to review by FHIS. supervision and inspection; subsequent disburse-
ments as costs are estimated
WHAT TECHNOLOGY ADDS V. Project Termination
Local communities rarely speak the same "language" as gov- Field 10: Completion of works certified
ernment bureaucrats and technocrats. Regardless of at what Field 11: Financing closed
level of governments these staff are found or what positions VI. Maintenance
they hold, chances are that "something" will be "lost in the
translation" of ideas to projects. Even if this translation is It is through these common data fields that the FHIS moni-
perfect, differences in opinion may exist in how a project tors the progression of local projects. Indeed, each step can
should be implemented or how its progress should be re- be seen as a decision point: the information presented in each
ported or what format communication between beneficiaries field can either be accepted or rejected by the FHIS.
and financiers should take. Any such loss in "translation"
reduces efficiency and reductions in efficiency, in turn, in- The municipalities also monitor the progression of the proj-
crease project costs. Undesirable by any count. ect cycle. Yet their responsibilities for monitoring extend far
beyond those of the FHIS. Areas subject to FHIS oversight
Computerization of the project cycle eases these processes. It largely remain limited to the eleven data fields outlined
is a technical tool that eases the project cycle by: 1) making above. The municipalities, in contrast, monitor those areas
the translation of local needs into bureaucratic parlance prac- often referred to as pre- and post-project - i.e., the steps
tically seamless - that is, getting the resources to fund a proj- leading to the project concept and determination of eligibility
ect in the first place; and 2) smoothing, if not altogether re- for FHIS support on the one hand, and all processes ensuring
moving, bureaucratic and administrative burdens - that is, maintenance of works upon termination, on the other.
maintaining the project's implementablity. Indeed, it is well
known that projects often suffer from a host of problems Notably, however, with the operational delegation of the
related to the mismatch between project objectives and in- project cycle software, most of the administrative burdens
stitutional capacities for implementation. In some cases, pro- associated with monitoring are removed. Once a municipality
curement and reporting procedures are simply too complex has a project concept in mind, it simply enters basic and
for implementing institutions to comply with. In others, co- baseline data into its computer (linked with FHIS via PC
ordination between different ministries proves impossible Anywhere), and the software does the rest. Project monitor-
and local participation falls short of expected levels. Herein ing - at least from an administrative point of view - is all but

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automatic. The software indicates next steps, prompts atten- puterized network will be vulnerable to limitations of infra-
tion to necessary forms and follow-up correspondence. structure and resources, human and otherwise. Arguments
Communication - e.g., regarding contractual agreements, could also be made that other investments - e.g., in basic
procurement, payments, environmental specifications, etc. - social services - merit priority over technology.
during this process takes place online, through email and the
Internet. Yet counter arguments, too, are many. Information flows
more efficiently, responses are timelier, participation be-
TECHNOLOGY PLUS comes broader based, as is ownership of projects, and de-
Machines, of course, cannot make all decisions. Also, infor- centralization is strengthened. In countries like Honduras,
mation in and of itself cannot substitute for knowledge and technology allows for leapfrogging across the board. For
experience. Technology may ease the flow of information example, many of the projects included in the FHIS's present
and keep a given process on track but, in many instances, US$80 million backlog fall in the fields of education, health
technical criteria will give way to judgement calls. For in- and potable water. The causes of this backlog, although var-
stance, FHIS inspectors control the quality of projects and ied, stem from the destruction and emergencies left in the
assure compliance with FHIS norms and standards. wake of Hurricane Mitch. The infusion of technology into
the project cycle will allow for a more fluid and rapid ex-
Evidence exists to suggest that computerized administrative change of information within and throughout all affected
systems work best when supported by teams of qualified ministries. Bureaucratic snares are minimized and the effi-
professionals. Delegation of the project cycle thus requires ciency with which goods and services - e.g., schools, teach-
that the human-side of the equation be in place. Indeed, the ers, and textbooks - are delivered to communities, is maxi-
creation of a municipal office of technical assistance and the mized.
training of staff are pre-conditions for participation. These
offices are comprised of an engineer, a general administrator, These factors all are necessary conditions for good projects.
and an information technology specialist and are supported Yet, they are insufficient. Good projects also are cost-
by specialists in the municipal environmental units. Staff at effective responses to local needs and are "owned" by local
the municipal level, in turn, are supported by staff in the communities. It is in this regard that the benefits of delega-
FHIS, and vice versa. tion and computerization of the project cycle may be great-
est. These processes are specifically designed to bring local
THE ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES decision-making and participation to bear throughout the
The challenges of computerizing and delegating projects project cycle. And, as experience - and empirical evidence -
cycles loom large. Especially in a country like Honduras, illustrates, locally designed and owned projects often are
where poverty remains widespread and much of the nation's more cost-effective in the short- to medium term and sustain-
institutional memory was carried away by Mitch, any com- able over the long-term.


Durán de Jager, Patricia (1997). The Roles and Relationships of the Social Investment Funds, Local Governments and
Communities in Central America. On the web at:

Fondo Hondureño de Inversión Social (2000). Programa de Inversión Social: Reporte Preliminar.

Goodman, Margaret, Samuel Morey, Gabriel Siri, and Elaine Zuckerman (1997). Los fondos de inversión social en
América Latina: Resultados y papel futuro. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank.

Planning and Development Collaborative International (2000). Delegación del Ciclo de Proyectos de FHIS, Informe Final.

Tendler, Judith and Rodrigo Serrano (1999). The Rise of Social Funds: What are They a Model Of? Paper presented at the
Inter-American Development Bank.

San Pedro Sula, Danli, La Ceiba, Tegucigalpa, Santa Roca de Copán, Puerto Cortés, El Progreso, Villanueva, Choloma,
Comayagua, La Lima, Roatán, Olanchito, San Lorenzo, Caracamas, Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Choluteca, Juticalpa, Santa Barbara,
La Libertad.

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Using Technology to Manage Education Information
ERIC - Educational Resources Information Center
Dr. Lee G. Burchinal

• 350 libraries serving over 3 million users in 12 countries

(the Educational Resources Information where users can search and download the full texts of
Center) was established in 1965 as the national education most ERIC reports since 1993
information system by the U.S. Department of Education to
provide quick, assured access to the U.S. educational re- Innovations
search literature. At the time, ERIC was based on the latest The decentralized design, while intended to make subject
information technology - big, slow mainframe computers and specialists outside the U.S. government responsible for se-
microfiche reproduction of reports. Since then, ERIC has lecting and processing information announced through ERIC,
evolved into not only the largest, most diverse, and most also provided the basis for rapid, innovation development of
used educational database in the world, but also as a leader in Web-based services and free access to the ERIC database
applying information technology. over the Internet. These innovations include:

Approach • Web sites of the clearinghouses, with content covering

From an initial database of only a few thousand records, the scope of the clearinghouse
ERIC now includes over one million records, covering all • Specialized Web sites at clearinghouses for serving spe-
fields, disciplines, varieties, and levels of education. Over cific clientele (The clearinghouse on Elementary and
32,000 new records were added to the database in 1999. But Early Childhood Education, for example, maintains 14
more important for the millions of ERIC users each year, specialized sites, ranging from ones for parents, early
ERIC has evolved from a conventional database into an im- childhood researchers, reading specialists, researchers
pressive array of user-oriented, Web-based services. In addi- and program developers concerned with promoting re-
tion to the growing power and reduced cost of Internet serv- silience in children and youth, specialists in childhood
ices, this evolution was abetted by two decisions made in the disabilities, and others, go to
design of ERIC in 1965. The first and most important deci- • Special collections of educational materials, including
sion was to develop a decentralized system, based on the 8,000 lesson plans, curricular and other educational ma-
operation of semi-autonomous clearinghouses, independent terials from 200 collections available on the Internet,
of but funded by the Department of Education. The second available at
was to rely on private contractors and independent firms to • The Test Locator, a special collection of over 11,000
provide online services, CD-ROM distribution, micrographic assessment instruments, available at
reproduction of reports, printing, and other outreach services
for users. As a result, ERIC is widely and easily accessible • Announcement of new acquisitions on clearinghouse
through a variety of sources to millions of users throughout Web sites months before the records are added to the
the world. For example, users can find information from: ERIC database
• Peer-reviewed electronic journals, such as Practical
• Four free Web sites, two of which are operated by ERIC Assessment, Research and Evaluation, published by the
clearinghouses, each of which had over 500,000 viewers Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, Univer-
in 1999 sity of Maryland, at and Early
• Four commercial online vendors Childhood Research and Practice, from the Clearing-
• Many locally maintained online services house on Elementary and Early Childhood, at
• Four CD-ROM vendors
• Over 1,000 local microfiche collections of ERIC reports • Full text of ERIC publications online, such as the ERIC
maintained by libraries in 26 countries Digests, consisting of short summaries and analyses of
research on selected topics, or the Practitioner File,
maintained by the clearinghouse on Adult, Career and

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Vocational Education at Ohio State University, at Network on School Reform Policy that will, with the help of partners throughout the world, provide access to global in-
• 65 listservs with over 34,000 subscribers formation on school reform policies and related research. All
• Virtual Libraries of full texts of selected documents, information will be selected to meet the needs of one specific
now a feature of many clearinghouses clientele - the critical policymakers at the state (or provin-
• Online responses to queries through ASK ERIC, at cial) and national levels of government who make the final or through, decisions about school or educational reforms. A key feature
with answers supplied by return email in two business of this plan will be to select policy information available on
days, maintained by the Clearinghouse on Information Web sites, provide summaries of these policies and related
and Technology, University of Syracuse research on a Web site at the University of Oregon, and pro-
vide links from these summaries back to the full texts of the
Reinvention Initiative policies or research reports on the partners’ Web sites. Sum-
maries will be in at least several languages, while the full
These developments, which represent only a selection of the documents will be in the language used on the partners’ Web
many Web-based services of the ERIC clearinghouses, valu- sites. Thus, by linking Web sites containing school reform
able as they are, represent ad hoc responses to the challenges policy information through a central Web site, educational
posed by the shift from print dissemination to online pub- policymakers and other viewers will have full access to
lishing through Web sites and electronic journals. The main needed information from their desktops. And they may find
ERIC operations, however, continue to revolve around the information of use in their native language instead of being
acquisition and processing of documents and journal articles. limited to whatever is available in English. This approach
This will certainly change. Recognizing the seismic changes might work well for other client- or subject-based services
in the generation of educational information, ERIC managers within a country or at the global level.
in the U.S. Department of Education have commissioned
reviews of various aspects of the ERIC system and opera-
tions as part of a “reinvention initiative.” This initiative will, Sources
no doubt, result in conversion of ERIC to a full Web-based Information about ERIC cited above came from the “ERIC
operation, possibly based on different models and users of Annual Report 2000", available at
the Internet. The site also is the portal to the entire
One model, by the Clearinghouse on Education Manage- ERIC system and provides descriptive information and links
ment, University of Oregon, with ASSIST to, among other things, the 16 ERIC clearinghouses and
INTERNATIONAL INC., a nonprofit organization, is an other components of the system and access to the database,
extension of current subject- or client-specific services cited through four search engines, and other information and re-
previously, but with a global outreach. This plan is based on sources related to the system.
the development of a Web site for a Global Information

The Latin Network of Information and Documentation in Education (REDUC)

By Sergio Martinic and Laurence Wolff1

Inspired by the establishment of ERIC, the Latin Network funded by the participating centers and countries as well as
of Information and Documentation in Education (in Span- a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank.
ish, Red Latinoamericano de Informacion y Documen-
tacion en Educacion—REDUC), is a cooperative regional
association of persons and institutions that compiles, proc-
esses, and disseminates information on education. Over time REDUC has moved much of its services to the
REDUC has operated since 1972 through a network of 22 Internet. It now has available online 16,000 “Analytical
associated centers--universities, ministries of education, Summaries in Education,” providing concise summaries of
and research centers, both public and private--in 18 coun- documents, including how to order copies. Every year,
tries of the region. It is the most extensive and complete additional 2,000 citations are added to the database. As of
education documentation center in Latin America. REDUC this year, there have been 45,000 hits on its web site.
is managed by the Center for Research in Development REDUC has now selected 300 of the most important stud-
and Education (CIDE) located in Santiago, Chile. Its web ies and made available the complete text, accessible
site can be accessed at REDUC is through the Internet or on CD-ROM. A virtual journal
(Revista Umbral) is published three times a year. REDUC

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has organized 14 workshops on Internet navigation, which • strengthen the processes of reforms in progress;
have reached 645 researchers and decision-makers in the • improve the articulation and commitment of actors;
region. REDUC has also supported partially presencial • increase the circulation of specialized knowledge;
master's degree programs in educational policy in coordi- • connect best practice and innovations with designers;
nation with the University of Panama and the University • train professionals in education policy; and
Alberto Hurtado in Santiago. Some of the material for the • incorporate new technologies into all of these proc-
course can be viewed in the journal at esses.
To meet these challenges, REDUC has already undertaken
New Approach the development of an electronic library composed of full
REDUC's managers are changing their view of information texts supplementing the analytical summaries. It is plan-
and its utilization in education. The new view begins with ning a database of the results of empirical research, which
the critical problems of education reform in the region: would be available to researchers for manipulation and
deficiencies in coverage and in the quality of learning; analysis. It is also planning to develop a structure of in-
political and policy problems in the design and execution formation and resources about qualitative research to
of reforms; inadequate commitment to change on the part strengthen the systematic use of qualitative methodologies.
of critical actors (supervisors, school principals, teachers); REDUC also hopes to establish information and discussion
and inadequate production of knowledge to feed the design fora on the subjects of equity and education and of decen-
and evaluation of reforms. The problem is not one of in- tralization, including state of the art papers on these sub-
formation but rather access to and use of information with- jects and Internet discussion groups. It hopes to expand its
out physical, social or cognitive barriers. Furthermore, distance courses and seminars on research and policy and
information is not the same as knowledge, which is pro- its programs of training of educational analysts and re-
duced in the context of reflection on action. On this basis, searchers, including a new program on educational man-
an "unmediated" database may serve researchers but may agement and decentralization to be undertaken in Cordoba,
not reach critical decision-makers nor have an impact on Argentina.
educational reform.
Sergio Martinic is director of the Center for Research in
REDUC is therefore seeking to become a "resource center Development and Education (CIDE—
for actors in educational systems," linking a wide variety in Santiago, Chile. Laurence Wolff is a consultant for the
of decision-makers and stakeholders. In this new vision, Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC.
REDUC seeks to:

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The following is two examples of insights from Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) practitioners. As evident
in their observations, “successful” EMIS implementation tends to be more relative and mixed with setbacks than one might
originally hope. It is also important to note that each case represents a snapshot of a particular period in a country’s EMIS de-
velopment – in some cases more than several years ago. Therefore they should not be interpreted as an assessment of the cur-
rent EMIS situation in the countries.

South Africa - Contributed by Luis Crouch, RTI duced with reasonable accuracy by 1997, and were compiled
into a large database known as the School Register of Needs
South Africa offers a useful case study lesson in how various (SRN). In the meantime, the central government had devel-
pressures for accountability and various forms of interaction oped a revenue-sharing formula that was publicly transpar-
between government and civil society might or might not ent, well explained, and widely discussed at least within the
spur the development of education information systems or, executive branch of government (national and provincial).
more humbly, specific databases. It points out that when the This revenue-sharing formula provided block grants from the
“demand” conditions are present, the “supply” of information central government to provincial governments, which pro-
and information services will be taken up, but that if the vincial governments could then choose to allocate sectorally
“supply” capacity is not present, “demand” side pressure by (health, education, etc.) according to their own views. How-
itself will not make it forthcoming. ever, provinces with the most sever backlogs in education
complained that the formula did not take education (or
During the period leading up to the democratic transition in health, for that matter) backlogs into account, which they
1994, much of the educational debate (both between opposi- knew because the elements of the formula were clear and
tion and government, and within the opposition) was non- transparent. Thus, provinces with larger backlogs felt under-
numerical, and few of the actors had a clear sense of what funded in terms of the formula, and could point to the obvi-
even key policies would cost in a reconstructed South Africa ous lack of a backlog component in the allocation formula.
(reconstructed both in the sense of having unified education
departments, as well as in the sense of absorbing the various By 1998, the national Ministry of Finance consented to
so-called independent states). Donors funded technical work changing the block grant formula to add a weight for health
supporting the opposition’s ability to quantify and simulate and education backlogs, though it is not clear whether this
the cost of a unified system, depending on various character- will be a permanent feature of the formula. This has created
istics of the system [e.g., how many grades would be com- an awareness of the need to revise and improve the register
pulsory and free, how fast the service ratios (i.e., teacher- of school infrastructure backlogs, and has generated pressure
pupil ratios, learning-materials-per-child ratios) could be on the education sector to collaborate to improve the SRN
unified and to which level, etc.]. This process did not gener- database. Furthermore, the pressure to improve equity in the
ate much new data, but did create an impetus for unifying system resulted in school funding norms being designed such
very disparate databases and for developing a picture of the that allocation to individual schools inside each province
overall system. The results of the simulation were used in would be targeted based on the poverty of the school, using,
real-time policy discussions, in a very open, contested situa- as one source of targeting information, the data in the SRN.1
tion. The supply of a fairly simple technical tool and data- This policy also has the weight of law. This has added fur-
base created a ratcheting effect where other parties had an ther pressure on the demand for improvements or updates to
incentive to bring their own analyses and tools to the table. the database.
This competition eventually led to a refinement of the data-
bases and the assumptions, as various parties came to more Thus, in this case we have two sources of accountability
or less similar conclusions on the affordability of a new sys- pressure acting on the need to improve a database: on the
tem. one hand, the pressure of a transparent formula that allocates
certain funding from central government to provincial gov-
Immediately after transition, government and analysis- ernments according to the database, and the pressure of a
oriented NGOs collaborated in seeking funding from donors transparent mandate, with legal weight, on provincial gov-
to develop a comprehensive listing and mapping of schools ernments, to allocate funding to individual schools based on
and their physical characteristics, including school coordi- the same database. As of this writing, discussions on how to
nate measurements via Global Positioning System (GPS). update the database are ongoing. It is likely that, given the
The idea was to develop a clearer sense of where the “back- pressure on the use of the database, it will be improved and
logs” due to differential apartheid funding were located, and updated.
what their relative magnitude might be. The data were pro-

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However, demand-side legal, financial, and accountability system evaluation, and planning purposes. This trend is
pressure is not enough if the supply-side response capa- positive, but its long-term sustainability is by no means yet
bility is weak. The story of the recent development of assured. The case offers lessons with regard to elements of
regular EMIS data, such as good pupil and teacher counts, both strength and weakness in the pursuit of a functioning,
highlights this fact. In spite of looming or real pressure on efficient, used and useful MIS for the education sector.
such data (e.g., for allocating teachers on an equitable ratio
basis), these systems have not improved nearly as fast as One fundamental positive element is the regular production
would have been technically and organizationally feasible in of reliable and timely statistics. While generating demand
the last few years. As of this writing, for example, truly reli- for information and MIS can arguably be achieved even with
able time series of enrolment data for the last few years are extremely spotty and poor data, the availability of solid cen-
simply not available. Furthermore, while South Africa has sus-based educational statistics surely makes this task easier.
rather good personnel records and exam records systems, In Guinea, primarily with USAID and World Bank funding
these have not been integrated with the financial records and and technical assistance since the early 1990s, the Ministry
EMIS records. serving pre-university education has upgraded its infrastruc-
tural capacity for information management and has produced
The reasons for this relative failure are not clear, but perhaps reasonably sound Education Statistics distributed in the form
have to do with lack of awareness at high administrative of Statistical Yearbooks and recently, broadly disseminated
levels within the system of precisely the level of effort it graphical brochures. The existence of the database and a
takes to organize large-scale information systems sup- reasonably smooth annual data collection and processing
port, and how to do so on a systematic rather than once-off system is a foundation that not many countries of
basis (the SRN has been seen as a once-off effort that could Guinea’s level of development can claim.
be outsourced). Another hypothesis is that the level of skills
required simply has not been available to the education In 1997, a transformation of the rather standard, conventional
sector, even though it is available in the society. This, production of annual education statistics began, with efforts
again, however, reverts to a lack of awareness of the impor- to integrate the EMIS into a broader quality monitoring and
tance, and the “how-to’s,” of mobilizing these skills towards planning system based on agreed quantitative and qualitative
the education sector. Thus, in spite of considerable demand- indicators of “the Quality School.” These indicators are
side pressure for good data, EMIS and other informational- being established through a process of broad-based con-
analytical units have been understaffed, underbudgeted, and sultation with stakeholders at all levels, from teachers and
their organizational and institutional features have not been parents’ associations to education inspectors and central
cogently and effectively analyzed and then delineated. In a Ministry directors. The system itself, involving specific
sense, management within the system has perhaps not really tools for evaluation and planning tasks, as well as scheduled
known or understood the technicalities of how to respond to fora for review and discussion of progress and policy im-
the accountability pressure by organizing good information plications, is being developed iteratively through product-
system. What is clear, however, is that when, and as, such focused working sessions at regional and prefecture levels as
systems do begin to get organized and start providing good well as in meetings with senior Ministry decision makers and
data, the data are immediately used and taken up by the man- more formally in Steering Committee meetings. A cross-
agement and policy debate, because the accountability, or departmental technical team spearheads the effort (with
demand-side, pressure is present and quite intense. members drawn from key central Ministry departments and
one regional inspectorate).
Guinea Conakry - Contributed by Jennie Spratt, RTI
The result to date has been a large degree of interest in, sup-
One ongoing aspect of the PASE I and PASE II efforts in port for and active application of the system and the infor-
Guinea (Programme d’Appui/Ajustement du Secteur Educa- mation it provides by Ministry staff at all levels. The over-
tif) since education reform work started in 1989 has been the whelming reliance on the system by local, regional, and
improvement of the educational management information national planners, and funders, to prepare for the 1999-
system within the Ministry of Education. Most recently the 2000 school opening in determining teacher recruitment and
original focus – on the nuts and bolts of collecting and proc- placement needs, and prioritizing new school construction
essing a relatively comprehensive and reliable database of for the next school year is one demonstration of its perceived
standard educational management information at the Minis- utility and responsiveness. The cross-departmental nature of
try – has shifted. Promisingly, attention has turned toward the technical team, investment in consultation and working
broad dissemination of the information gathered as well as sessions with field stakeholders in the development phase,
active involvement of both a broad range of central Ministry and focus on providing efficient and accurate tools to ac-
departments and decentralized levels in the analysis, inter- complish major tasks, are viewed by observers as important
pretation, and use of quantitative data for policy formulation,

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contributing factors to the credibility, degree of local owner- local and regional officials in the analysis process, have
ship, and direct utility of the emerging system. surely contributed to the serious consideration the informa-
tion generated is receiving.
The process of establishing “school quality” indicators
through consultation and consensus-building, in addition to Guinea’s EMIS experience is a work very much in progress.
forming a basis for specific planning and evaluation tools, Remaining weaknesses in the system include a database
has also been an opportunity (relatively rare in the Guinean that is still essentially dependent on external funding and
context) for broad-based dialogue and examination of the technical assistance for analysis and report production.
inputs and processes related to learning, and the articulation In addition, the technical assistance provided, while available
of clear goals and standards for the educational process in in the local private sector, is not consistently supervised to
Guinean elementary schools. The recent (and ongoing) ensure quality and relevance of its products. Solutions to
School Opening preparation, further, has already generated the perennial problem of attracting, and retaining, com-
substantial, databased debate on several major policy is- petent government staff with high-demand technical spe-
sues. These include: cializations (such as information management) are
needed. One option (partially employed in Egypt) involves
• School construction priorities and guidelines. Despite the creation of special recruitment and career tracks within
a focus, supported by donors, of virtually exclusively ru- the government sector for particular technical specializations.
ral classroom construction, extreme overcrowding of ur- Another option, the current “de facto” situation in Guinea, is
ban classrooms was clearly and quantifiably demon- to institutionalize, in other words, to routinely plan and
strated using the newly indicator-driven EMIS. At the budget for, contracting out for specific technical services.
same time, some of the rural areas where new construc-
tions are currently planned or underway, were shown to Further, there is a tendency toward “balkanization” of da-
have already existing, but underutilized resources. tasets and their supporting structures, even within a single
• Rational teacher deployment. The EMIS-grounded Service, which would appear to be related to real or per-
planning process highlighted not only geographical areas ceived links between specific project funding and the distri-
(and specific schools) of teacher shortage, but also of bution of equipment, perks, and opportunities across offices
underutilization of teaching staff. The process was and staff. This balkanization has become painfully evident in
noteworthy for its transparency; it publicly required lo- efforts to combine datasets or to institute uniform and/or
cal and regional education officials to explain or justify, non-redundant information management processes across
or correct, on a school-by-school basis, cases in which a different offices (e.g. Statistics and School Mapping) or
school had ostensibly more teachers than it needed given ministries (e.g. Education, Finance, and Civil Service).
the agreed minimum class size and/or number of classes
organized in the school. In this manner, over 300 teach- Some technical “fundamentals” – such as unique identifica-
ers were identified as being “redeployable” to under- tion codes that remain constant over time for individual
staffed schools, by district-level officials. schools (and that would permit historical school-level analy-
• Strategies to intensify enrollment efforts. The EMIS- sis), or instilling the efficiency value of precise coding in
grounded planning process identified over 600 schools, general, at all levels of the data collection process – have not
predominantly in rural areas, where available resources yet been successfully implemented across the system. The
(classrooms and/or teachers) were significantly under- reasons for this situation range from difficulties of gaining
utilized. This finding was seen to indicate a need for compliance from other record-keeping government struc-
more ambitious efforts to mobilize these schools and tures, to the relative priority of policing for data quality
their communities to get more children enrolled in among over-worked and under-resourced regional and dis-
school – rather than further infusion of supply-side re- trict staff, to simple negligence.
sources – in the near-to-mid-term.
The experience of Guinea underscores the value and impor-
It is noteworthy that the above issues and others, such as the tant of engaging local agents in the EMIS development proc-
absence of guidelines for applying double shifting or multi- ess, and supporting them in using the system to accomplish
grading when quality or efficiency tradeoffs would warrant their own objectives. This engagement served not only to
their use, while occasionally mentioned prior to the presen- enhance the quality and relevance of the EMIS related tools,
tation of “quantified evidence,” traditionally had not gener- but to ensure a degree of commitment to common guidelines
ated sufficient concern among top Ministry officials to lead and planning and evaluation processes.
them to examine these issues more closely. Now, these is- 1
sues are being openly discussed, and are slated as topics of National Norms and Standards for School Funding, De-
debate for the next Steering Committee meeting. The trans- partment of Education, Pretoria, October 1998.
parency of the approach, and again, the direct involvement of

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Technology for
Successful Management and Accountability
in US K-12 Schools
Marco J. Morrone
Product Manager, Project Achieve

little Jenni gets a B in English and everyone can go home

Same Education for All happy. Now, she must achieve state benchmarks on a whole
manner of language arts skills. She may even have to write a
brief essay explaining how she solved a math problem.
The classroom is one of the only modern work environments
that have changed little in the last hundred years. To date,
So what, if anything, is wrong with this picture? It turns out
even bringing computers into schools has not appreciably
that the standards and the tests often don’t correlate particu-
altered the fundamental structure of the classroom environ-
larly well, meaning that what is being taught and what is
ment for most teachers and students. And yet, the demands
being learned and what is being tested are sometimes very
made upon students—and consequently teachers, adminis-
different things. In addition, public education is usually run
trators, and parents—are changing every day.
from the state level, meaning that there are at least 50 differ-
ent versions of each set of standards and tests. Even if the
Many countries focus instruction and evaluation to different
curriculum and the exams are aligned, teachers don’t have
tracks of students, based on early testing which determines
any way of knowing which standards they need to teach
their course of study. The United States has taken a very dif-
most. Last year’s exam results provide a rough model, but
ferent approach. Based on the democratic ideal of equal edu-
what if this year’s fourth graders aren’t anything like last
cation for all, US schools are required to provide each stu-
year’s? And even if teachers did know what their students
dent with access to the same education. The execution of
greatest needs were, where would they find the material to
this directive becomes challenging when we attempt equal
fill in the gaps?
assessment for all.

Standards and Tests Automation of Process

At present, many successful teachers and schools are putting
In the US, the biggest change is in how student performance
in long hours tying together standards, assessments, and re-
is evaluated. The way we evaluate student learning has
sources in a way that will help them enable students to learn
evolved and become much more specific as part of a political
what they are required to learn. This is where Project
and pedagogical movement towards standards and account-
AchieveSM ( ) comes into the pic-
ability: standards for what students learn (and what teachers
ture. Project Achieve focuses on automating as many aspects
teach), followed by “high-stakes” testing to determine how
of this process as possible, helping schools and teachers
well that learning has progressed. Gone are the days where

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make these connections quickly and easily, and leaving more opment dollars, a school can use Achieve tools to make the
time for classroom instruction – enabling teachers to focus best use of its most valuable resource—teachers. Adminis-
on teaching. More specifically, the Project: trators have access to their own desktop system and reports
to make sure teachers are teaching and assessing the stan-
• saves teachers time by making required administrative dards, and to keep them apprised of school-wide student pro-
tasks such as taking attendance and filing discipline re- gress toward learning goals. They have all the information
ports automatic and instantaneous; they need to make informed decisions about large-scale edu-
cational initiatives, and can protect themselves from surprises
• enables teachers to write in-depth lesson plans address- by making immediate instructional corrections.
ing specific standards; and,
As the exams approach, instead of dropping their regular
• enables teachers to attach standards to their classroom lessons and spending weeks on rote instruction and “teaching
assessments—assessments which are tracked in an inte- to the test,” teachers continue to focus on what their students
grated grade book, the results of which can be organized need to know. Instead of coping with the anxiety of a “high
into all manner of reports aimed at providing teachers, stakes” test, administrators, parents, and students know ex-
administrators, and parents an immediate and ongoing actly how well-prepared the students are: they not only have
measure of student progress. a history of graded report cards, they have reports breaking
down student performance against standards throughout the
Achieve is also developing a tool to help teachers align their school year and across disciplines. Rather than a single
curricula to state standards, and to provide them with lesson number, the exam score becomes part of a larger picture of
plans, exercises, or sample test questions mapped to individ- student achievement and progress.
ual standards and specific subjects.

At the start of the school year, instead of planning instruction Degree of Success
based on last year’s test results, teachers will be able to as-
sess exactly what their students know at the outset using For all its best intentions, the success of rigorous standards
sample questions from the mastery test they will eventually and accountability systems has been very limited – almost
face. Then, without looking back through assorted binders nonexistent. States have tried to hold students to high aca-
and state documents, teachers will be able to find the re- demic standards, promising genuine accountability measures
sources they need to address whatever gaps in student under- including denying diplomas to students who fail to pass the
standing their initial assessment revealed. This will be in- state test, even if they satisfy all other traditional graduation
valuable for a beginning teacher faced with a heavy volume criteria. But in the end, failure rates have always been too
of standards to teach and no veteran’s “bag of tricks.” But high, public opinion has swung against the system, and the
even master teachers will benefit from easy access to new rules have changed. Just this year, standards-based reforms
lesson ideas, exercises, and current research. The application in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Virginia—all previously
also saves and catalogs each lesson, which makes re-teaching touted as models to follow—have experienced setbacks re-
a course a process of refinement rather than re-invention. lated to high failure rates. It is everywhere a highly charged
political issue, with no shortage of blame and finger pointing
As the year progresses, teachers can continually adjust their on all sides. Project Achieve has chosen to address the in-
instruction to meet the changing demands of their students; herent difficulties of the process itself, making it easier for
instead of teaching to the middle, teachers will be able to teachers to measure student progress and adjust their teach-
teach to the gaps, passing over subjects their students have ing to fit student needs. While the right technology is no
already mastered and leaving more time to focus on specific guarantee of successful reform, it can help foster the right
problem areas and enrichment. They can also publish their environment for real changes in education and a more com-
best lesson plans to a lesson plan library, so that successful plete picture of each student – which benefits everyone.
strategies for meeting the standards become a valuable re-
source for the entire school community. Strapped for devel-

Based on the democratic ideal of equal education for all, US schools are required to provide
each student with access to the same education. The execution of this directive becomes
challenging when we attempt equal assessment for all.

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National-Level Educational Support Systems:
The United Kingdom's National Grid for Learning (NGfL)
Soledad McKinnon, George Washington University
Joanne Capper, The World Bank

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency

(Becta) is the United Kingdom's lead government agency for Information and Communi-
cations Technology (ICT) in education. Becta's role is to evaluate new ways of teaching,
learning and managing with ICT, and to promote techniques that improve standards, in-
crease participation and help schools and colleges become more effective. Becta's work
includes assistance in content, practice and the infrastructure. Becta's primary mode of dis-
seminating its work is the Web-based National Grid for Learning (NGfL), the United
Kingdom's national focal point for learning on the Internet. The NGfL is a diverse and
constantly evolving collection of Internet-based education resources targeted to K-12
schools, further education, higher education and lifelong learning. It contains resources and
discussion forums for teachers, tutors, school and college managers, parents, and learners
of all ages, as well as links to similar sites in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well
as others around the world. In addition, the NGfL contains links to libraries, museums, and
other relevant government agencies (

For teachers, the NGfL site hosts the Virtual Teacher Centre
(, which provides materials to support teaching and learning in all
curriculum areas at the primary and secondary levels by subject and key stage, and includes
attainment links, targets and schemes of work. This online Centre also offers teachers and
school managers a forum for sharing best-practice ideas and for collaborative problem
solving. Teachers also can access relevant government information and services through
TeacherNet. (

The NGfL site includes a catalogue of resources for professionals and parents to support
individual learning needs of special education students, and access to relevant resources on
Web sites around the world (

The Further Education Resources for Learning (FERL) Information Service

provides information and guidance to lecturers and support staff in further education col-
leges ( The (FERL) site includes curriculum-based software and
Web sites, with independent reviews carried out by FE practitioners; case studies of good
practice written by FE staff; a listing of events relevant to the FE sector; research reports;
guidelines on the production of an Information and Learning Technology (ILT) Strategy

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for further education colleges; links to sector organizations and other useful sites; articles;
news; and special features, such as the feature on Managed Learning Environments

Related to further education, the Lifelong Learning site

( is designed to encourage, promote and develop life-
long learning in the UK. It contains news, government reports and information on other as-
pects of lifelong learning including Career Development Loans, Individual Learning Ac-
counts and Learning Direct - a free learning and career information telephone service.
There is also a link to Universities and Colleges Admission Services (UCAS) that offers in-
formation on higher education courses and locations of colleges and universities, along
with advice for applicants.

For school and college managers, Becta advises on how to purchase and implement the
necessary IT infrastructure in the most cost-effective manner, and, where appropriate, tests
and certifies systems to ensure that they meet minimum standards. Their conclusions are
disseminated through the NGfL Certified Managed Services site, which reports on tests of
ICT-related products, services, and certified suppliers and provides framework contracts
for purchasers. Their aim is to remove the time and resource burden from managers and
educators, and provide them with the best route to using IT effectively within the class-
room. This service is designed to provide users with an integrated package of equipment,
facilities and services, including clear points of contact for support and advice
( Becta also evaluates emerging technologies in order
to assess their potential for use in education.

Parents can access the Parents Center through the NGfL site
( to obtain information about the national curriculum, pu-
pil assessment, school attendance and examinations. Likewise, Parents On Line is an ini-
tiative from the Department of Education that aims to show parents the educational benefits
of the Internet.

Learners also can benefit from the NGfL site. Maths Year 2000 was developed to
make maths accessible and fun, and to help people of all ages develop the maths skills that
they need. Maths Year 2000 will build on the National Numeracy Strategy that is designed
to raise standards of mathematics in primary schools. (

Substantial progress has been made over the past two years to ensure that schools can ac-
cess the NGfL. In England, the number of primary schools connected to the Internet in-
creased from 17 percent in 1998 to 62 percent in 1999, while nearly all secondary schools
are now online (Becta, 2000).

For the next three years, Becta has set up a plan to better support the U.K Government in
the use and development of ICT in education to raise standards, widen access, improve
skills, and encourage effective management. In doing so, Becta’s Chief Executive, Owen
Lynch, stated that the three major components for success are: “an appropriate and sustain-
able Infrastructure of equipment and connectivity; relevant and quality Content; and skilful
educational Practice” (Becta, 2000, p.5). He further added that it is only when education
managers combine the capabilities of the technology with teachers’ skills that ICT truly
begins to make a difference.

Becta (2000). Corporate Plan 2000-2003. (

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Electronic Environment
Management of Learning Systems
L.A. Plugge., S. Schoenmakers, and P.A. Kirschner
Maastricht McLuhan Institute, Netherlands

This article summarizes an in-depth review* of electronic tools that enable flexibility and support of collaborative teaching and
learning environments. The review was commissioned by UNESCO and conducted by the Maastricht McLuhan Institute. The
authors looked into 50 different electronic environments, reviewed nine of them and short-listed four environments that they
considered well equipped to serve learning and teaching , particularly in developing countries and are susceptible for efficient
use in a multi-lingual, multi-country, and multi-media network context. Below are descriptions of these four electronic envi-
ronments.: Blackboard, IntraLearn, TopClass, and WebCT.

BLACKBOARD Student testing is connected to courses and offers many op-
Blackboard is a widely used teaching environment. It sup- tions, such as item banking, importing of items, use of mul-
ports all Roman-based languages. The product line consists timedia, mix of question types, randomization, password
of a free public edition (, a registered edi- protection, timing, auto marking, instant performance feed-
tion (CourseInfo) with additional administrative features, and back, and the ability to add off-line grades. Blackboard pro-
the Blackboard Enterprise edition. The free and registered vides no tutorial differentiation based on test answers. It is
editions all run on the Blackboard Company servers. Black- the teacher’s task to take care of this. Wizards provide sup-
board Enterprise edition is available for use on private serv- port for the organization and analysis of tests, as well as stu-
ers for campus or countrywide deployment. This heavy-duty dent progress. Students can review their attendance, graded
edition also provides large scale monitoring and data report- assignments of projects and exams, and can determine which
ing. Technically this system is suitable for a multi-country items within their profiles they want to show to the public.
Blackboard Enterprise Edition is hosted on a Windows NT or
Blackboard Enterprise Edition provides management and Unix server. Students only need a web browser and an occa-
organization for different kinds of enrolment, such as the use sional plug-in. On-line help is available. Support for the in-
of existing databases and subscription by students, as well as stitution is available through the World Wide Web, E-mail,
different kinds of reports and statistics. Course materials can and telephone. Additionally, there are courses on various
be re-used and multiple forums can use the same course. aspects of working with Blackboard. The administrator con-
trols the security permissions for various roles and applica-
The environment provides freedom of choice for educational tions. Students can work off-line, if needed with use of CD-
process management, such as an extended classroom and ROM, and upload directories.
distance education, but also didactical forms like tutorials,
interactive simulations, virtual classroom and collaborative Although the program offers many choices, the interface is
work groups. A calendar and announcements section informs rather rigid. Administrators and teachers can switch applica-
students about the things to do. A presentation area gives tions and keys on and off, but they cannot add new ones or
access to other members of the learning community. alter the structure of the interface. However, the above-
mentioned features of Blackboard make it a strong contender
Database reports provide possibilities for tracking of stu- as a teaching environment for large-scale and heavy use in
dents. Course designers and teachers can easily edit and up- multi-country context such as Sub-Saharan Africa.
date course materials, supported by 5-step templates. Black-
board supports popular file formats and plug-ins, such as
video and interactive simulations. It has built-in communica- INTRALEARN
tion means that provide threaded discussions, synchronous IntraLearn is a Microsoft online learning partner and makes
communication, online file exchange, online tutorials, shar- use of several Microsoft programs such as Office and Net-
ing of documents and archival of student discussions. meeting. Approximately 100 large organizations use the

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system. The costs are relatively high. IntraLearn is available competency goals by comparing objectives with the results.
in multi-lingual versions and contains a conversion engine to Students can manage their profile in a portfolio.
replace the English version with other languages. IntraLearn
pays particular attention to the disabled learner by offering IntraLearn runs on a Windows NT or Unix server, and by
the option to translate screens into sound for the visually hooking up several servers, a statewide system is possible.
impaired. An automatic backup of the server database is provided with
SQL Server. IntraLearn’s security is of e-commerce level.
The administrator can manage the enrolments, including the The client installation runs automatically via a browser inter-
import of learner profiles, entering one student at a time or face and a server based product. Hosting, maintenance, and
bulk import from databases. Students can also self-register. other optional services by IntraLearn are possible. Students
The administrator can also control the look and feel of the use a web browser for uploading to the server and viewing
environment. The toolbar and utilities pages are customiza- records. All data and programs are contained and managed
ble. The administrator can delegate tasks to a course admin- from a single server database, so the client machine needs
istrator who can switch on or off features in a course, such as only limited memory requirements. All classroom functions
chat, FAQs, web links, and glossary. are accessible within the familiar environments of Office and
Outlook. The entry costs are $25,000 for unlimited users,
The curriculum structure is pre-built. Templates for instruc- courses, years of use, etc. and $1500 per year for technical
tional design guide a course designer through the creation support and upgrades. This is higher than the costs of other
and editing of lesson plans, assignments, learning activities, environments for learning and teaching.
quizzes, and learning objectives. It is possible to create an
educational hierarchy (course, lesson, topic, nuggets-chunks) IntraLearn fits the criteria for a multi-lingual, multi-country
and integrate it with other applications. learning environment. It has many unique facilities for mod-
ern education. The system works with applications that are
The program supports many facilities for cooperation be- also popular outside school. A week point with IntraLearn is
tween instructors and experts and for teambuilding and col- perhaps the tracking of student progress through a course.
laboration between students. The instructor assigns course Another problem could be the required computer specifica-
materials to individuals or groups. In the course room, stu- tions due to the MS Office applications. Nevertheless, Intra-
dents accumulate knowledge that they can exchange with Learn is a serious contender that justifies further investiga-
others. IntraLearn supports file exchange and file sharing in tion.
all areas of communication: discussion groups, teams, inte-
grated e-mail, streaming audio, video and images. Students
work mainly in Office applications. Outlook provides a cal-
endar and scheduling. IntraLearn provides chatting on lesson TopClass is predominantly used in industry, universities, and
level, but also campus wide, in clubs, private meeting, and in vocational training in 50 countries. The program makes
team rooms. Students can create personal and group web- intensive use of icons, and language strings are customizable,
sites. including for various courses. The program is designed to
manage courses, but curriculum management is not sup-
The student testing facility is well developed with tools for ported. An administrator manages the privileges of instruc-
question creation or upload, timing facilities, one question at tors and students. Differentiation of these privileges is possi-
a time, completion and results recovery, different questions ble. Some instructors have the right to create and edit the
to different students, possibility to retake tests, and assign courses, while others have only tutor rights. This difference
point values to questions. Questions are linked to the topics is also used for item and test construction.
from which they were derived. Multi-layer security enables
secure testing over the Internet. It is possible to shut off the TopClass automatically updates revisions or additions, and
browser during the exam to protect the integrity of the test. modules can be moved from course to course. The courses
Courses and tests are protected from downloading. The stu- are created with the help of a hierarchical outlining tool.
dent can print a customized certificate upon qualified course Instructors can create courses in TopClass off-line. In addi-
completion. Grade and process status, usage reports, com- tion, a number of 'canned' courses are available through sev-
parisons, statistical analysis and statistical presentation of eral (US) publishers, and development services are available.
results are built in. Customized feedback by the teacher is
possible as well as auto marking. Additionally, IntraLearn Information is distributed through announcements and e-
makes it possible to redirect the tutorial path depending on mail, and threaded, moderated discussions are possible. For
the answers given. It is also possible to create non-graded the student, the messages in discussions have a status (new,
survey questions (course evaluation) and to add offline read, old but unread). Synchronicity is not integrated but
grades. Instructors can determine if a student achieved the possible to link in with third party tools (application sharing,
chat, video and whiteboard, etc.). Tracking of students is

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also provided for use of this third party software that students project oriented. It contains conferencing facilities, a pres-
attach. entation area, mail facilities and threaded, searchable discus-
sions, related to a particular subject. Students can select
During a course, the students are grouped in classes for topics from the study guide and make private annotations.
teamwork and motivation. The instructor controls the stu- To return to the most recent learning context there is a ‘Re-
dent’s access to content. The program monitors student per- sume session’ tool.
formance, and provides remedial material or progress to a
higher level. Students can preview the work assigned to them Tracking student progress is the strongest feature of the man-
and the deadlines in all courses. The program supplies wiz- agement and organizational facilities. Additionally, instruc-
ards for test creation and assessment management. The pool tors can assign course material to an individual or to a group
concept provides random generation of test questions and of students. However, there can be only one (virtual) in-
control on reusability in multiple tests. It is possible to grade structor in a course. A number of courses are delivered by
tests automatically or route them to the appropriate instructor textbook publishers and on cartridges. The course designer
for correction. Summary reports are available on a class and authorizes the participation of tutors and students.
on individual student level.
The student testing facility enables test submission, different
TopClass runs on a Windows NT, Unix or Macintosh school questions for different students, one-question-at-a-time test-
server. A browser interfaces the installation and access. The ing, mixture of question types, assigning points to questions,
server provides Campus wide security. Personal technical submission of self-tests to the instructor, and redirection of
support for the administrator is provided and other users can the tutorial path depending on the answers given. Organiza-
attend an optional training workshop or just have 'how to' tions can tune the test to their education and end terms. It is
pages. TopClass Lite is freely downloadable. A single-server possible to export the grade book for analysis. Students can
license for an unlimited number of users costs $1450 and is review their grades and compare them with the performance
upscalable to a campus wide licensing agreement. Students of other group members. Students have a newsgroup facility
can download courses to the desktop, work off-line and make and scheduling tools for the course.
private annotations of course material.
The environment runs on a private NT or Unix server, but it
Although TopClass is not applied in secondary education yet is also possible to let Web CT serve as a host. The system
and it is limited to courses instead of curricula, it seems like supports local backup and transfer from the desktop by the
a solid solution for large-scale implementation. teacher. Web CT has several means for technical support,
such as a tutorial for start-up users, a manual, context sensi-
tive help, and a mailing list for administrators and designers.
WEB CT It is also possible to arrange additional technical support.
Web CT provides organizations the ability to create local Licensing is organized by yearly subscription, covering sup-
applications. Since organizations in 55 countries use Web port and upgrades.
CT, it is no surprise that it provides multi-language support.
Web CT is particularly useful in two situations: (1) in coop-
Templates help the instructor to create standard pages for eration with educational publishers, and (2) for very specific
course outlines, assignments, and reading lists. These pages local applications. Functionality is too limited for imple-
have custom tags and are not exportable to standard HTML. mentation as a teaching environment in a multi-country con-
However, the administrator can edit the look and feel of the text, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa.
environment. The educational form of the environment is

Conclusion: The authors of the report observe that choosing an environment for flexible education requires attention.
Each of the environments above presents small differences in focus. While Blackboard focuses on enhancing education in
a regular educational environment, IntraLearn is engaged in education from any location, TopClass aims at the business
community and is more course-centered, and WebCT is more student-centered. If the choice is to have an environment
independent of regular education and its location, then TopClass and IntraLearn are the choice. If the users wish to focus
on automated tracking, assessment, and certification, then IntraLearn has the advantage. When the users intend to imple-
ment student-centered learning, then WebCT is a better choice. One problem with those environments is that they are de-
signed with U.S. educational facilities in mind, and this must be taken into account when adapting the environments to the
conditions of different countries.

Plugge, L.A., Schoenmakers, S., & Kirschner, P.A. (June 2000). Electronic Learning Environments. Final Report, Concept
VS 0.A. Prepared for UNESCO by the Maastricht McLuhan Institute.

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Education Management Information Systems (EMIS):
Guidelines for Design and Implementation
Luis Crouch – RTI
Mircea Enache – EMI Systems
Patrick Supanc – The World Bank

WHAT IS AN EMIS • Donor Intervention – Donors often have an agenda

with values (transparency, democratic participation) and
goals (comparative achievement data) that impact
What does an EMIS include? information generation.
• Broader reform efforts – Wider “modernization
Under current practice, Education Management Information efforts” across the government tend to generate calls for
Systems (EMIS) are typically limited to centralized greater use of technology and performance measurement
databases containing basic, school level data: at the sectoral level.
• Improving internal efficiency – Ministers seeking to
• Pupil data (enrollment, age, repetition) address issues of redundancy or improved targeting of
• Teacher data (experience, placement) resources typically require a greater degree of data
• School inventory data (location, number of classrooms, accuracy and precision.
equipment etc.)
In sum, one typically observes two major drivers of
EMIS typically does not formally include: government interest in MIS:

• Performance Data Modernization Efforts: Most common; frequent after

• School finance information (often managed by another government/leadership change; tend to be very unfocused as
Ministry – Finance or Planning) to what information is actually needed; commitment tends to
• Cost accounting be weaker; less cognizant of EMIS costs and political
• Provisioning of materials (textbooks etc.) hazards.
• Monitoring of internal management initiatives (e.g.
special projects). Accountability Efforts: Less common and usually the result
of a major law, policy decision or strong external pressure;
The definitions and scope of EMIS vary from country to more specific data needs because policies and outputs are
country. There is no ideal “model.” However, it is important often better defined; immediate demand and collective drive
to develop a clear working definition among clients, for results.
consultants and donors as to what EMIS will actually include
given their policy priorities. This will optimize the MAPPING DECISION-MAKING
deployment of resources and clarify downstream monitoring
and evaluation.
Before addressing data needs, it is important to locate where
Why do governments want an EMIS? decision-making is actually taking place across the system.
This can later be used to assess where accountability
• Change in leadership creates new, immediate demand pressures are likely to be greatest and if data needed for
for updates, briefings, data for new policy initiatives. informed decision-making is indeed reaching the appropriate
New leaders rarely trust (often with good reason) the manager or user.
current information system.

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The following matrix provides some examples that can be modified according to an education system structure and context.
[Note: the Ministry should be divided into principal units, particularly if decision-making is highly centralized]

Focus of Locus of Decision-making

Function Sample Decisions Cabinet/ Ministry of Other District Municipality School
Requiring Data Legis/ Education Ministry Office of
Court MOE
Goal Setting Is access to
and Policy secondary
Development education a
priority issue?
Selecting Should minimum
performance teacher
standards certification
standards be
Coordination Should the
and Regulation Ministry of Labor
continue to run
Financing Where should
resources be
Budgeting and How many
Planning schools need to be
Curriculum In what subjects
Development do students
perform poorly?
Personnel Where should
Policy new teachers be
Personnel Is a teacher
Development (re)certification
program needed?
Procurement Where should
new additional
school supplies be
Maintenance Which schools
are most in need
of repair?
Performance Are learning
Measurement outcomes
Performance What schools
Analysis appear to be most
Performance In what areas
Communication does our school
need to improve?

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Once the overall decision-making landscape is assessed, it is Strategies for improving data collection:
of central importance to identify a subset of the most
important decisions facing system leaders – those for which • Information should be fed back to the producer in a
there is the highest level of accountability and political useful form.
elasticity. The MIS should be improved and indicators • Encourage openness and transparency – Overcome fear
developed around those priorities. by disseminating data gradually; balance damaging
data with positive data.
• Reduce the opportunity/time costs of producing data,
DESIGN STRATEGIES especially at the school level. Resistance grows as
“professional time” is diminished.
The principal challenge of the design stage is addressing data • Make aggressive, early efforts to avoid duplication.
priorities through existing and added capacity and incentives. • As much as possible, use existing data sources. The less
Good EMIS designers keep the following ideas in mind: current collection routine is disrupted the less resistance
the new system will generate. Transition costs are also
• Rarely does MIS design “start from scratch,” although reduced.
this may be the inclination of technical purists or
vendors. Build on what already works. Estimating Costs
• Always begin with a “prototype” or pilot that can
demonstrate effectiveness quickly on a limited set of There are some general cost tendencies in EMIS
priorities, and that will most often be based on existing implementation:
systems. Effective pilots will wet the appetite for more.
• Consult with users at all levels throughout the design • As technology costs continue to fall in most developing
stage to check if the information proposed addresses countries, human resources tend to be the most costly
their roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and input, not hardware.
communication realities. Again, don’t ask for • The high recurrent cost of EMIS staffing and
information “needs,” but focus first on decisions people maintenance tend to be overlooked or under-estimated.
are actually making. • EMIS benefits from very limited economies of scale.
• Link the system to other ongoing activities. This will Expanding scope or precision increases auditing costs.
draw users into the system. • Implementation and training costs are likely to vary
• Ensure system adaptability – enhanced by simplicity significantly across sub-national districts (rurality,
and the avoidance of over-design. A highly complex, connectivity, existing infrastructure, etc.).
interdependent design is very difficult to modify as
needs evolve. A good analysis should: a) consider the state of EMIS
development, b) break down costs for inputs, and c) think
through the implications of who pays.
STRATEGIES Sustainability
All EMIS systems face some form of resistance during the
Data Collection implementation stage. New information can threaten current
rewards or simply the stability of current practice. Thus,
• The quality of data collections tends to better at the implementation plans should include a strategy for
local level. overcoming major sources of resistance. Here are some
• The higher the level of local use of data, the higher the tendencies to keep in mind:
quality generated for general system purposes.
• Don’t confuse the speed and completeness of data Reasons for resistance to EMIS implementation:
collection with accuracy. Celerity may be motivated by • EMIS creates extra work
ties to resources (e.g. per capita funding, payroll etc.). • EMIS increases accountability
• Avoid the widespread myth that once data is in the • Transparency limits patronage
computer it is accurate. • Political sensitivity may arise over unfavorable
• Remarkably, there are no clear examples of systems with outcomes
reliable audit systems, a major impediment to
reliability. Forms of resistance:
• Passive: no use, observable lack of activity at

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collection/entry points, limited resources allocated to are rewards for doing so.
EMIS unit, personnel focused on “other priorities.”
• Active: protest from competing programs, active 4. Donors often overestimate client demand for EMIS.
resistance from teachers on performance measurement, These misconceptions often take the form of: “The
competing visions of what EMIS should look like, local demand for a good MIS is always there – the only things
leaders boycott or protest fearing comparison of lacking are the means,” or “If given the information,
performance. decision-making will be rational.”

Strategies for sustainability: 5. EMIS systems tend to be over-designed. Systems with

the highest use and downstream adaptation tend to be
• Lower initial expectations and be realistic from the simple and modest in scope. Similarly, EMIS design
outset about the duration of implementation. tends to be burdened by unrealistic expectations about
• Make the implementation process interesting by the degree of precision “required” without taking into
augmenting the degree of human interaction. account precision’s high costs.
• Recruit leadership that can be counted on for the long
haul – that can endure during the detail oriented phase of 6. In most cases, more information is collected that
implementation. actually analyzed and applied toward decision-
• Find skills locally to the greatest degree possible. making. EMIS reform should focus first only on
information that directly informs priority decisions.

7. Effective systems tend to build-off of existing

TEN OVERARCHING LESSONS databases, taking advantage of current data collection
routines. Maintaining familiarity while enhancing
An overview of EMIS literature1 and the distilled insights of efficiency builds early wins for a more ambitious, long-
experienced EMIS professionals highlight the following key term effort.
lessons of EMIS implementation:
8. Most EMIS interventions – assessment, design,
1. Effective EMIS have specific users who demand implementation – tend to focus on technical solutions
specific data to inform decisions for which they are created by technical teams, and tend to overlook the
held accountable. organizational processes and institutional incentives
that drive information use.
2. The sustained commitment of ministry leadership is
directly tied to the sustainability of an EMIS system. As 9. Large-scale EMIS efforts require stakeholder/user
initial “champions” become distracted or disenchanted, consensus. New information tends to create “losers”
the odds of the EMIS effort stalling increase. who may actively resist implementation. Broadening
information use at all levels tends to increase the
3. Incentives in developing countries to use objective likelihood of ownership.
information tend to be weak. Other criteria (e.g.
securing funding, rewarding supports) may be more 10. EMIS systems tend to have the greatest impact on
important in determining the success of a manager or a planning and policy support – at that stage
policymaker. Frequently, the absence of reliable data policymakers have the greatest latitude to act in response
can be to the advantage of the potential user. EMIS to new information.
users tend to contribute and use information when there

See D. Chapman “The Role of Education Management Information Systems in Improving Educational Quality” in Improving
Educational Quality: A Global Perspective. Chapman and Carrier, 1990.

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Education Management Information Systems (EMIS):
Available Software and Guidelines for Selection
Kurt Moses, Vice President
Vivian Toro, Director
Academy for Educational Development

Selecting EMIS software (whether custom designed or prewritten) in its details is complicated, but the key outcomes are
not complicated —making existing jobs work better: more accurately, more timely, and more efficiently. Moreover,
good, sustainable EMIS efforts in the public sector are evolutionary, not revolutionary—they build as much as possible
on what already works well. Software (not hardware) should be the focus of attention of a Ministry or its agencies,
since software selection for EMIS should drive whatever additional hardware is needed.

Strategic Choices as payroll, and operating on very specific equipment—often

There are several important distinctions to know about EMIS mainframe computers, with very specific computer lan-
software before deciding what to select. guages—such as COBOL or Neat3 or Fortran. That era has
been far surpassed. With more advanced software, the use of
Transactional versus Management or Planning Internet languages like HTML or Java, and the widespread
use of PC computers, there is a very large selection of pre-
Software. In the early stages of EMIS most Ministries written software for almost any administrative function or
think of EMIS as an undifferentiated set of solutions to all any sized organization, that operate on most internationally
their problems involving computers, reporting, data, and compatible PCs, servers, or minicomputers. As well, the
costs. A key distinction for large educational systems is educational market has gotten big enough that specialized
between transactional software and planning-oriented or re- software firms now provide both individual and integrated
porting software. Transactional software performs the daily, software for schools and Districts (or regions) that support
individual functions such as payroll, tracking personnel, re- most of the functions that an independent or fully decentral-
cording leave, tracking inventory of books, or accounting for ized school might need to perform. Additionally, many
payments. Such software tends to be highly specialized, ac- software vendors now provide government oriented software
commodates considerable detail and can be used to derive for large volumes of transaction such as payroll for 1 million
reports that are used for management and planning. Some staff, or personnel tracking for 2.5 million administrative
software is sold as payroll only, with no personnel function; staff. In short, an effective Ministry can now find, proven,
other is integrated using a common database and common tested, documented, and easy-to-train-for software for almost
procedures and computer screens. If an educational system any need at a reasonable price. The key advantage with
decentralizes and places responsibility for recruiting, track- prewritten software is that you can try it out before you
ing, and paying teachers at the District level, for example, buy it, it goes in much faster than custom software, and a
then the District needs, at a minimum, transactional software vendor can provide support afterwards should problems
for payroll and personnel. Typically, up until decentraliza- arise. In most instances, prewritten software, which is
tion, most payroll software will be at a central ministry level. then customized to special needs, is the only time-effective
Hence, when large educational systems start moving re- means to get a nation-wide EMIS working in a reason-
sponsibility for certain key functions—such as payroll, able period of time. In some developed countries, software
personnel recruiting and tracking, financial accounting, vendors are now offering remote access to their software on a
and tracking vehicles to a lower level, they must also plan per month or per transaction basis.
on software and hardware support for these functions.
What many governments do when they decentralize is to Some key things to look for with prewritten software:
force Districts or lower levels to use manual procedures even • History of successful use in situations like yours—at
when, at the central level, most things are automated. least 3-5 years;
• Ability to be used in different sized or volume situations,
Developing Versus Buying Software. Until about 10 to such as district, regional, province, and na-
15 years ago, the only major option was to make your own tional(scalability);
software—custom designing it for a particular function, such

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• User friendly—people can operate it quickly with mini- Financial, and other transaction-based systems. But this will
mal additional training; only be a short-term solution. At the very minimum any
• Internationally compatible databases and procedures national education system should address basic educational
(there are a series of widely accepted international stan- questions such as:
dards and databases available); • How many schools do you have?
• Supported locally by a reputable vendor—there is a fi- • Where are these schools?
nancially solvent vendor around to resolve issues; • How many children/learners are in the education sys-
• Multiple site licenses—it should not cost a huge amount tem?
of money to add an additional site; • What are the basic characteristics of these chil-
• Transparent pricing—the Ministry should be able to dren/learners?
evaluate the cost of purchasing and operating the soft- • How many teachers are there?
ware for 5 years, easily. Pricing should be done ac- • Where are they?
cording to a “life cycle” software costing approach; • What is the basic infrastructure of your schools?
• Web compatible—at some point, the software should be • What is the basic financial information?
accessible via the Web either for reporting or data gath- • What basic teaching materials does each school have?
ering purposes;
• Excellent training—there should be excellent and con- The needs assessment should be done in a participatory
tinuous training available for at least 5 years; fashion, consulting as many stakeholders and users as possi-
• The vendor should be able to demonstrate and explain to ble. The assessment process should take into account what
any management person in the Ministry what the soft- works well in current systems whether they are manual or
ware can do for them. Strictly technical statements are automated processes and functions, and build on these suc-
NOT sufficient; and, cesses. It should also look at the “must-have” features, be-
• Give yourself at least 6-8 months to do this work with a cause not everything needs to or can be done at once.
small team.
Common pitfalls:
Sample List of EMIS Software • Defining systems as only automated systems. People
have manual or partly automated “systems” that work
Exhibit A is a sample list of single function as well as inte- and should be included as part of a needs assessment.
grated education-oriented management software. The list is • Leaving the needs assessment only to the “technical”
indicative and not exhaustive. As you review it, keep in mind people, rather than including managers from the begin-
that software suitability is highly dependent upon the local ning.
situation, particularly in terms of functions, support, training • Excluding your “technical” people from the needs as-
and cost. sessment process.
• Looking at software acquisition as a one-time purchase
Steps to Software Selection and not as a system-wide investment.

Step #1 – Conduct a Needs Assessment Step #2 – Specify System (Software) Requirements

What kinds of information do you need? Who will use the In order to obtain the kind of information system you want,
information? For what purpose? To answer what questions? you must be as clear and specific as possible about what kind
How frequently do you need the information? What links of functionality you want from a software system(s) and
does it have to existing or planned information systems in- vendor. Some of the factors to consider in specifying soft-
side and outside your organization? How does it fit into your ware requirements include: ability to perform key functions,
institution’s overall EMIS plan/vision? Does your organiza- compatibility or interlinking with available software and en-
tion have (or can afford) the necessary pool of skills to de- vironment; cost (core system, initial conversion, training,
velop, customize, install, operate and/or upgrade the neces- support, upgrades, customization, and maintenance); user
sary software? Do you need to consider contracting, friendliness; adequacy of documentation; access to technical
outsourcing or training existing staff? These are some of the support; open source code or proprietary software,
questions you should try to answer during this step in order sustainability, and upgrades.
to get a realistic perspective.
Common pitfalls:
The tendency in developing or selecting EMIS systems is to • Not developing system requirements.
try to use a Statistical Information System (SIS) to meet the • Not separating critical system requirements from non-
information needs that are best met by transactions-based critical requirements.
administrative systems such as Human Resources/Personnel,

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Exhibit A: Sample List of EMIS Software
Name and Contact Area Sample Func
Functions Country Comments
of Origin
Education Management Systems Integrated School Finance, USA Small, medium & District Soft- School Lunches, schools & Districts
ware Student Records,
Class Act Software Integrated Student Records, USA Small, medium School Software Teacher Pay, sized schools
Finances, Class Attendance
TASS—Alpha School System Integrated School Student Records, Teacher Australia Used primarily in Software Pay, Australia, variable
Finances, Class Attendance, school sizes
Student Accounts
Powerschool School Student Student Records, Class USA Supports instruc- Software Attendance, Parent Contact tional activity best

ABT Campus Integrated School Student Records, Class USA Extensive use of Software Attendance, Business Man- the Web for inter-
agement faces
Rediker Software Integrated School Student Records, Class USA/ Worldwide appli- Software Attendance, Counseling Europe cation, oriented to
Records, Business Man- educators needs
SchoolPro Integrated School Student Admissions, Rec- USA Software ords, Billing, Business
Management, Payroll, Fa-
cilities Management
IBM—Solutions for Schools School Software, Various USA/ Various semi- Selected District Worldwide custom solutions

Computer Associates District, Re- Finance/Accounting, Hu- USA/ Euro- Requires a Systems gional, National, man Resources, Inventory pean Integrator to link
Single Function large systems
MSA Inc. National, Provin- Human Resources, Inven- USA/ Requires Systems cial, Single Func- tory, Textbook Manage- Worldwide Integrator to link
tion Software ment large systems
PeopleSoft, Inc. National, Provin- Human Resources, Finan- USA/ Requires Systems cial Semi- cial, Student Records Europe Integrator to install.
Integrated Soft-
ED*ASSIST National, Provin- Information reporting on USA Planning & man- cial, Regional, Students, Human Re- agement oriented
District Integrated sources, Financial Summa- EMIS. Links to
Software ries, Facilities, Textbooks existing school
SCT Solutions National , School Students, Human Re- USA/ Higher Education Integrated Soft- sources, Finances, Inven- Europe oriented. Large
ware—also tory, Class Scheduling user base.
Higher Education
Campus America School Integrated Student Records, Human USA Higher Education Software— Resources, Finances, In- oriented. Medium
Higher Education ventory, Class Attendance, sized institutions
Store Management

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Step #3 – Develop an Evaluation Criteria Step #5 – Obtain Feedback from Users
In evaluating your options, you should develop evaluation In addition to the research on software advertisements, Web
criteria that help you quantify the priorities and features that sites, demonstration programs, vendor presentations, profes-
are more important to you. This process should help you to sional publications, and software reviews you should also try
weigh how much emphasis you will give to certain technical to obtain feedback from “real” users. Consult with other
and non-technical categories. For example some of the tech- colleagues or collaborators trying to answer the same ques-
nical categories might include application functions, the da- tions, and having the same problems.
tabase management system, maintenance, training, and sup-
port, while non-technical categories might include cost. In particular, you should talk to similar organizations and
These categories should be directly linked to the detailed list ministries that have similar information needs. Find out
of system requirements developed in step #2. about lessons learned. What do they like about the software?
What are the shortcomings? If they were doing it all over
Exhibit B summarizes in matrix form an example of the again, would they use the same software? The same vendor?
Software Evaluation Criteria used to acquire Human Re- The same contractors/consultants? Would they do the devel-
source Software for a Ministry of Education in Latin Amer- opment “in-house”? Would they outsource it? Would they
ica for a decentralized system. In this particular situation, do a combination of both? Are the users happy? What kind
the ministry had decided to “buy” a software system that met of infrastructure is needed to support the software? What is
about 70% of their key requirements, and to customize the the “real” cost? Can the vendors/consultants show you a
remaining 30%. You should complete these evaluation crite- prototype of how the system would look once adapted to
ria for each one of the software top candidates. your needs?

Common pitfalls: Common pitfalls:

• Not having systematic evaluation criteria. • Relying only on vendor “claims” about their software.
• Attributing too much importance to technical features • Relying on software that is not really oriented to your
and not to the overall operation environment. “activity.”
• Evaluating software as an independent activity and not
as part of an overall plan. Step #6 – Consider Acquisition Process and Pre-
Step #4 – Identify Existing Software Options You should become familiar with the acquisition procedures
Once you have specified your system requirements (or as within your organization and, if applicable, those of the
part of that process), you should try to identify existing soft- funding source. Each institution and each donor has different
ware options. Should you (or a contractor) develop a totally procedures, limits, formats, and cycles, that could signifi-
customized software system or do you acquire existing “off- cantly delay your acquisition. You should also synchronize
the-shelf” software? this process with other procurement procedures that are pre-
conditions or requirements for the successful implementation
In order to determine what is the best solution to meet your of your system. This might include hardware and software
needs, you need to see if software solutions exist, and, if they procurement and installation, as well as staff training ranging
do, do they meet all, or some of the needs. You need to de- from Office Automation (word processor, spreadsheets,
termine how much time, effort, and resources would be Internet use, etc.) to different levels of specialized technical
needed to customize an existing system, or whether it is bet- training (databases, operating systems, networks, etc.). It
ter to develop your own system “from scratch.” The latter is could also include the readiness of the different user groups,
always time-consuming, resource intensive, costly and fre- particularly if you plan to install in regional or District of-
quently hard to sustain. The answer might be a compromise fices.
between the “make” and the “buy” options since there are
benefits and constraints to both options. The solution will Common pitfalls:
need to take into account your information needs, your in- • Not knowing the donor's or your own software procure-
stitutional capacity, and existing resources. ment procedures.
• Not synchronizing your software acquisition with other
Common pitfalls: relevant aspects.
• Wanting to "invent," believing that local development is
cheaper. Step #7 – Develop Feedback Mechanisms
• Acquiring/developing software that answers current Feedback mechanisms are critical throughout the whole pro-
questions but is less flexible at adapting to the inevitable cess of procurement, customization, installation, refinement,
changes in policies and priorities. training, and maintenance -- particularly from users of the
system. Use routine feedback mechanisms such as evalua-

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tion forms, or group interviews, and create an environment in ware selection has been made.
which users feel their voices are “heard” and taken into ac- • Not having a contingency plan.
count. Also maintain the lines of communication with the
vendor/consultant/contractor so that there is some flexibility Software is just part of the process of building your EMIS.
incorporating feedback. Additionally, invest in a service One of the measures of success will be when users start de-
contract that provides for “hot line” support, system up- manding more from the system because their original expec-
grades, access to user groups, etc. tations are being met and they expect more. When new sys-
tems are introduced, staff expectations may rapidly move
Finally, always develop contingency plans, just in case from expecting a 2- month delay to get a new teacher paid, to
things don’t work out as expected. People leave, companies expecting 1 week. Today’s questions will quickly be re-
go out of business, technology changes, systems become placed with new ones. Accordingly, a potentially successful
obsolete. EMIS should have a built-in mechanism for evolution and
Common pitfalls:
• Assume that the acquisition process stops once a soft-

Exhibit B: Software Evaluation Criteria

General Char
Char- Company profile 5
Software Package General 2
Software Architecture 5
System Internals 5
Customization/Adaptation 5
Distributed Processing Sup- 5
port (Network)
Licensing 3
Cost 30
Initial 15
Recurrent 10
Customization 5
Support 10
Training 8
Documentation 5
Total - Gen
eral Charac
Charac- 83
Software Recruiting/Applicant 1
Characteris- Tracking
Post Assignment Proposals 1
Employee Information 3
Positions 2
Personnel Actions Tracking 1
Reporting 2
Ease of Use 2
Data Volume Handling 2
System Interface 3
Total- Soft
Soft- 17
ware Charac
Total Evalua
Evalua- 100
tion Criteria

! 54 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

No Strings Attached:
Education Management Using
Wireless, Internet and Smart Card Applica

In governments from Peru to Estonia, modernization of

management systems in the education sector often lags
Wireless Communi
behind more dynamic (and financially profitable) areas As many telecommunications analysts
such as telecommunications, banking and transportation. will exalt, wireless communications
This is due in part to a pervasive reluctance to imple- offer an inexpensive way for
ment radical solutions in education, and in part to the developing countries to bypass
complicated fixed-line telecommunica-
low priority education receives in national, state and lo- tions equipment, a process often
cal budgets. Education systems are plagued by the per- referred to as “leap-frogging”. In some
ennial problems of obsolete infrastructure, lack of fund- of the poorest countries with low
ing, low teacher pay, overcrowding and curriculum issues. fixed-line teledensity rates, wireless
has proved hugely popular. China, for
Far less attention is paid, however, to the fact that example, is expected to surpass the United States in its
school systems are in need of effective management, as wireless use within two years. Countries like Poland, South
is any large organization. Schools employ thousands of Africa, Slovenia, Brazil, Latvia and Guatemala have all em-
teachers, order billions of dollars in supplies and distrib- braced the wireless world with enthusiasm, reaching 40%
penetration rates in some cases. In poor countries like Bang-
ute millions in payroll annually, yet many of the systems ladesh, community wireless phones are used much like
that perform these functions are antiquated, decentral- shared access computer terminals. Similar models of shared
ized and inefficient. Schools are in need of quick, but access can be applied to educational systems management
sustainable solutions to harmonize these systems and using burgeoning wireless networks in developing countries.
For example, with a mobile handset teachers can report ab-
manage their teachers. sences, speak with educational administrators, tend to per-
sonnel matters or order supplies from a centralized location
Enter the latest crazes in the telecommunications market: without having to travel to the next town or capital city. Us-
Wireless applications, the Internet and Smart Cards. ing wireless, these tasks can be completed at a reasonable
cost and with little training or maintenance on the part of the
At first glance, wireless communications, Internet and Smart school.
Cards might seem unrelated to education management, but in
fact, they can provide fast, reliable and cheap solutions to
some of the most pressing problems facing education sys-
tems today. Recent studies show that school systems around
the world lack basic information on teacher credentials, at-
tendance, current teacher assignments or even records on the Naturally, the Internet is a critical tool for managing employ-
existence of some schools, particularly in rural areas. In ees. In Kenya, teachers are trained in advanced Internet skills
some countries these information gaps can cost the govern- at Kenyatta University’s Africa Virtual University not only
ment millions of dollars in lost wages, misappropriated funds for the purpose of improving educational applications for
or even corrupted use of school monies. When pennies count, students, but also because the Kenyan government needs
this kind of waste and duplication take away from supplies, computer-literate teachers for proper record-keeping. Teach-
teacher training, school maintenance and ultimately the stu- ers in remote rural areas with basic telecenters can now eas-
dents themselves. ily email the latest enrollment rates, attendance and school
financial records, data that might have gone unreported be-
fore Internet connections existed. In the United States, for-
mer education czar Lamar Alexander recently kicked off a

! 55 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

new company called, which is designed to (although they can easily be misplaced or destroyed). In the
save schools billions in processing costs for supply orders by United States, Congress just approved the use of Smart Cards
connecting schools and suppliers in an automated online pur- for the food stamp program, and France, Belgium and the
chasing market. The free service allows school districts to Scandinavian countries regularly use Smart Cards to manage
make order combinations and receive bulk discounts through government employees. As an education management tool,
centralized systems to avoid duplication and overstocking. Smart Cards have small chips that can hold large amounts of
Education-focused companies like Simplexis are part of a data about a teacher or administrator, which can be updated
new wave of entrepreneurs engaged in B2E, or business to on a regular basis at a central terminal in a school. For exam-
education commerce. ple, in Nottingham, England, the government recently intro-
duced the “Connexions Card” to students and teachers using
The Internet and special technology from a company called GuideLine Career Serv-
software can also be combined ices, Ltd. Teachers and students use the cards to monitor
specifically as an education attendance, track lessons and record good behavior. Students
management information are rewarded through points that can then be exchanged for
system (EMIS), which can be discounts and free items from local vendors.
used to keep statistics, track
financial trends, maximize Smart Card, Internet and
employee capacity, allocate wireless solutions are clearly
funds and manage payroll. In the future direction for man-
Canada, a company called agement of education systems
Emis specializes in these in the global information
systems for local governments, economy. However, for
schools and small businesses optimal application of these
in countries like the UK, technologies, it is necessary
Ireland, Jamaica, Nicaragua, to have first a receptive
Thailand, Cote d'Ivoire, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Pakistan and the environment for the introduction of new technologies, fund-
Philippines. In many cases, outsourcing contracts to the pri- ing for installation and upkeep, basic infrastructure and a
vate sector is more effective because companies possess state solid security system to prevent tampering or hacking. The
of the art security, programming, upgrades, research and potential for abuse or intrusion of privacy must also be con-
technical support that government-run facilities may not be sidered, particularly in countries with restrictive govern-
able to provide. ments. Also, the wireless option is less feasible in countries
where state monopolies still dominate the telecom sector

Smart Cards with controlled, often exorbitant pricing systems. Despite

these obstacles, the long-term benefits seem to outweigh
short-term costs or risks. Computerizing education systems
Smart Cards are often associated with banking, but they can reduces red tape, saves time and trims costs so administra-
also hold extensive personnel and payroll management in- tions can have more complete information on their opera-
formation. Governments around the world are slowly inte- tions, students and employees and so teachers can spend
grating Smart Card technology into management systems more time with the most important asset in any school -- stu-
because the cards are cheap, reliable and relatively secure dents.

! 56 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

The Web is being used increasingly not only to
provide information and in-
struction, but also to
support policy
development, planning,
and management of educational systems. The
following are several sites that do that.

Selected by Gregg Jackson

Associate Professor and Coordinator
Education Policy Program, George Washington University

Secretaria de Estado da Educação

(State Department of Education, São Paulo, Brazil)

This site offers a variety of information about the activities of the department. The site has a directory of all 6,100 public
schools in the state. For each school, the site maintains daily information that includes quality indicators, special projects,
dropout and retention rates, calendar of classes, classes that were cancelled and proposed make-up days, and even teacher ab-
sences. The department is also planning profile pages for each of its 6.1 million students, indicating their attendance and
grades. The pages would be restricted – through the use of password – to each student’s parent. (In Portuguese)

Internet Educativa

This site is maintained by Fundación Chile, a private group of professionals interested in the use of technology for develop-
ment. The site is a portal that offers information and facilitates communication among teachers, students, families and re-
searchers. For instance, the teacher portal includes articles, news, lesson plans, and even a virtual course for teacher certifica-
tion. The student portal includes homework help. The research site includes access to statistics, federal legislation, a virtual
library, and a collaborative environment where researchers can publish their work. (In Spanish)

! 57 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

U.S. Department of Education

This U.S. government site provides a rich array of resources that can be of help to those who prepare policies, plan education
systems, and manage them in the United States. It includes documents and speeches about education by the President and the
Secretary of Education, a huge compendium of statistical data on schools and education, a large number of research reports on
various aspects of education, information on the federal grant programs for education, announcements of job openings in the
Department’s offices, and links to many other sites with useful resources.


LearnLink is a USAID initiative to use information and education technologies to strengthen learning systems in developing
countries. This Web site helps support those activities. It includes summaries of specific projects, country papers describing
the field experiences of the projects, and many links to online resources.

National Center for Technology Planning

The site offers links to many resources that could be of use when developing plans for the use of educational technology. It
includes links to a substantial number of already adopted national, regional, state, district, and school plans. Although most of
these plans are American, they should be useful in provoking thought about plans elsewhere.

Associación Iberoamericana de Educación Superior a Distancia (AIESAD)

(Ibero-American Association of Distance Higher Education)

This is a consortium of more than 55 universities involved in distance education in Latin America and on the Iberian Peninsula.
The site connects to a course of specialization in Open and Distance Education provided through six Latin American Universi-
ties (in Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain). The page also includes a site for an academic cooperation program
between Europe and Latin American universities. (In Spanish)

Associación de Televisión Educativa Iberoamericana (ATEO)

(Ibero-American Educational Television Association)

This organization has more than 250 member organizations, including ministries, universities, foundations, and regional televi-
sion networks. The ATEO website includes news about education for all Latin America, a forum for debates on different top-
ics, and a list of major journals on education in Spanish and Portuguese. The organization offers training courses on issues
related to tele-education that is provided through satellite, digital videoconferencing and the Internet. ATEO also has an edu-
cational video-library from which members can borrow for broadcast. (In Spanish)

! 58 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Orbiting the Dream:
Tressa Steffen Gipe

Imagine a small rural village in Africa. It is isolated by a lack of

roads and fixed telecommunications infrastructure, yet the
people in the village are able to access all the news, weather and
political happenings in the capital city through radio
transmissions. The village schoolhouse receives current radio
reports in the local language with events from around the world,
and the teacher is able to email student and payroll records to
the Ministry of Education in the capital. In the evenings the
school doubles as a community media center filled with
enterprising villagers checking grain and livestock prices in the
capital, while others keep in touch with friends and family via

A Pan African System phone calls, videoconferencing, television broadcasts and

With some of the lowest teledensity and Internet penetration radio transmissions. In October 1999, RASCOM also an-
in the world, such scenarios might be difficult to imagine in nounced plans to install a network of solar-powered phone
many African countries. However, organizations such as the booths that will be linked by satellite to provide wireless
Regional African Satellite Communications Organization communications across Africa. Each booth is estimated to
(RASCOM) hope one day to bring reliable telephone, radio, cost $1,000.
television and Internet service to Africa through a network of
satellites that can be used in a variety of business and educa- How It Works
tional settings. For educators and administrators, satellite Long before ambitious programs like RASCOM, the first
projects like RASCOM could make it possible for more of satellites were designed for military and weather reconnais-
Africa’s schools to enter into the global information age sance. They eventually became used as transmitters of com-
without need for the elaborate fixed line infrastructure typi- plex multimedia information such as television and radio.
cally found in more developed countries. Specifically, satel- Satellites generally have what is called a transmission
lites can be used to implement new management techniques “beam” or “footprint” that can cover millions of square
and pedagogical methods that can help educators conduct kilometers. Data is usually received at a specific location
their administrative and teaching duties more efficiently, through terrestrial receivers, which can range in size from a
even in remote rural areas. huge broadcasting satellite dish to a tiny global positioning
chip within a cellular phone. For example, the WorldSpace
RASCOM, which is a treaty-based organization of 44 Afri- Corporation, a U.S.-based satellite provider for Asia, Latin
can nations, was officially convened in 1995 with a dream to America and Africa, is developing handheld radios equipped
bring Africa the freedom of reliable intercity communica- with flat-patch antennae that receive direct satellite broad-
tions services that would operate independently of American casts with CD-quality sound anywhere. The company is also
or European networks. RASCOM hopes to connect all major developing second- and third-generation receiver chips that
African cities together using a small satellite network that can be attached on PCs or handheld phones to collect and
may eventually include three orbiting stations. The initial receive information, including text and graphics.
costs are estimated at $450 million and will be funded pri-
marily by African governments. Data is usually beamed from satellites through one of three
frequencies, the Ku-band, the Ca-band or the C-band. Infor-
At a recent meeting in Tripoli, Libya, RASCOM announced mation is usually exchanged within the satellite’s beam
it had officially begun preparations to launch its pan-African through an uplink center or a downlink center, which can be
satellite, RASCOM-1, in 2003. Although not considered the any piece of equipment capable of receiving and decoding
most advanced system on the market, RASCOM-1 will be the frequencies beamed by the satellite. The more specialized
capable of handling a wide range of complex applications, handheld devices, like the ones being developed by World-
including multimedia communications, local area network Space, simultaneously act as uplink and downlink sites and
(LAN) data, some Internet transmissions, long-distance tele- usually operate using the high-frequency Ka-band receiving

! 59 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

antennae. For example, with a satellite-enabled mobile
phone, a teacher in a rural African village could make tele- Challenges to Overcome
phone calls or download educational material onto a PC Because of Africa’s vast size, cultural diversity, linguistic
without ever having to connect to a land line. patchwork, and pockets of political instability, programs like
RASCOM are met with serious challenges. For instance,
Serving Education Systems regulatory barriers in some countries make pan-African
Pan-continental satellite ventures like RASCOM have im- broadcasting difficult, particularly when it comes to politi-
portant implications for Africa’s education systems, not the cally, religiously or morally sensitive content. Cost usually
least of which is the potential for better access for millions of poses the biggest barrier, particularly in RASCOM’s case
people who are isolated economically, politically, geographi- since much of the funding comes from national governments.
cally and culturally from the telecommunications hubs in Maintenance, installation of equipment and training of teach-
Europe, North America and east Asia. For educators and ers to operate receiving devices are also major expenses, and
administrators, satellite technology circumvents some of the some countries are more willing or able than others to absorb
greatest obstacles to access, including cost, system capacity these financial burdens. As with any multilateral project,
and geographical boundaries. Although cost issues and feasi- political discord can also impede progress, which has often
bility will vary due to the economic situations in individual been the case for RASCOM.
countries, some potential educational management applica-
tions include the following: Into the Future
In other parts of the world, similar projects are underway to
• Digitization and management of student records, teacher bring better telecommunications access to schools and teach-
files and even university systems using special satellite ers in traditionally undeserved areas. ArabSat is run by a
receiving terminals that can disseminate information to consortium of Arab states and delivers quality programming
remote areas equipped with proper receiving devices. and telephony to the Middle East. WorldSpace’s satellite
This system of shared data access could be achieved network serves nearly two thirds of the world’s population
without traditional fixed line infrastructure because sat- through the AsiaStar, AfriStar and AmeriStar satellites,
ellite-linked equipment can be run using batteries, solar which often provide free and low-cost educational program-
power or electricity. ming to rural areas. Even supranational organizations like the
• Storing and processing of teacher background via satel- International Telecommunications Union (ITU) are focusing
lite using a processing terminal or PC that can receive on creating better social applications of satellite technology
data without the use of phone lines. For example, grades through public/private sector partnerships.
and attendance records could be sent to a central proc-
essing hub via email or document attachments. Although traditionally not seen by telecommunications com-
• Using satellite radio transmissions to bring news and panies as lucrative customers, educators and schools stand to
educational programming to teachers and students in benefit from satellite applications in ways unimagined just a
remote villages. For example, WorldSpace transmits decade ago. Networks like RASCOM can help teachers use
free educational material with Africa-specific content to satellite technology to make learning and administrative
the entire continent through its Africa Learning Channel tasks more efficacious. Yet even with major projects like
(ALC). RASCOM, a fully connected Africa will not be realized in
• Accessing educational databases and employee man- the immediate future; teledensity in Africa is predicted to
agement systems via satellites to provide the latest per- reach only 10% by 2006. Nevertheless, the fact that satellites
sonnel updates and student files. are increasingly able to offer portability and interoperability
• Teleconferencing to bring rural school administrators for content and data processing allows economically and
and national administrators together to share the latest physically isolated groups to take advantage of the fruits of
educational trends, policy changes and technical up- the information age in small, but unprecedented ways. The
dates. dream may not have been realized yet, but satellites have
• Teleconferencing and distance learning to train teachers brought real solutions into orbit for millions of people.
on maintenance of equipment and other school man-
agement techniques.
• Creating inter-urban links between capitals like the ones
envisioned by RASCOM to help Ministries of Educa-
tion, teachers, universities and even students share data
and keep open lines of communication. In the past, this
interconnectivity was impossible due to restrictions
from fixed line telephony.

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On-line Distance Learning:
The Experience of the
International Institute for Educational Planning,
Bikas C. Sanyal

Introduction The objectives and contents of the DL

On average, in national budgets around the world, one out of course
every five dollars is allocated for education. However, very The three-month DL course, which has so far been held on
few countries have set up institutional mechanisms to moni- three occasions for universities in different regions of the
tor the managerial effectiveness of this resource. Very often, world – Southern Africa, East and West Africa, and South-
the heads of institutions who are in charge of the manage- East Asia – is intended to develop human resources for sen-
ment of their budgets are academics with little managerial ior managerial positions in universities.
expertise – scarce resources are thus wasted.
A set of ten training modules has been developed by IIEP,
Having foreseen this problem, UNESCO established the In- dealing with (i) the general management of universities (one
ternational Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) in 1963 module), (ii) financial management (three modules), (iii)
as a center for advanced training and research in the field of personnel management (three modules), and (iv) the man-
educational management for UNESCO Member States. Spe- agement of physical facilities (three modules). The last three
cifically, it was created to: modules include computerized simulation exercises for par-
• train those responsible for the management of education; ticipants to explore alternative strategies. They deal with (i)
• research into important aspects of educational manage- issues and approaches, (ii) a range of international good
ment; and. practices, (iii) problems and solutions, and (iv) strategies for
• disseminate new concepts, methods and techniques in improving management.
this area.
The format of the course
More than 1,200 people from all over the world have partici-
Organizing the course in a distance learning format combines
pated in the Institute’s nine-month Annual Training Program
the advantages of a traditional face-to-face workshop (i.e.
while more than 4,500 people have attended the Institute's
interaction among professionals), with the flexibility of time
Visiting Fellows program, its short-term (2-4 weeks) Inten-
and space of independent study, supported by group-work at
sive Training Courses in specialized subjects, its courses on
the institution level. The design of the course is based on a
the training of trainers, its program for visiting specialists, its
combination of the three learning techniques:
seminars and research-review workshops and, more recently,
its on-line distance learning programs. • Independent study of materials (prepared with special
emphasis on self-learning).
The responsibility of educational managers has been spread- • Scheduled group sessions to discuss individual re-
ing into new areas. Simultaneously, new information and sponses to the task assignments and to prepare a group
communication technology (NICT) has made it possible to- response.
day to rapidly respond to urgent needs and to reach anyone in • Interaction with the IIEP course team and with other
the world who wishes to acquire a particular skill. It is with participating institutions through on-line debates (using
this mind that IIEP launched the program of distance learn- e-mail) and access to the submissions of other institu-
ing (DL) in various areas of educational management (e.g. tions (which are posted on the Website of the course).
the management of textbook production and distribution,
refresher programs for former IIEP trainees, the management In each institution a group coordinator is given the task of
of university-industry partnerships, etc.), based on self- coordinating the group work and of being the group’s princi-
learning materials prepared by its faculty. In this article we pal communicator with IIEP. A Guide is prepared for the
shall deal with only one area – the training of human re- course for both the participants and the group coordinators.
sources for university management. Individual tasks are so designed to help the process of reflec-
tion. Group tasks are so designed to allow development of
team spirit, provide opportunity to brainstorm, and hear the
ideas and opinions of others. It is suggested that it is impor-

! 61 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

tant to do the work individually and then come together for • Interruption of the e-mail service while the university
group discussion. IIEP’s feedback is to be very quick to was changing its file server.
keep up the momentum of the course. At the end of each • Service lost due to power failure and breakdown of tele-
module, a synthesis is prepared at the IIEP and sent to all phone connection.
participants. • Software incompatibility.
• Receiving computer files with viruses.
The course requires five hours of work per week for each • Getting accustomed to using e-mail: sending an attached
participant and the head of the institution is asked to ensure file, retrieving information on the Web site.
the release time as a condition of participation.
Technical problems, however, do not appear to have under-
E-mail interaction and use of Web facilities mined the commitment of the participants to the course.
For interaction, the course relies widely on the exchange of They have been given assistance and moral support from the
information and comments by e-mail. Web facilities are IIEP team member responsible for communications. Univer-
used to provide access to selected documents to be shared sities also have come forward to solve some of the problems.
among all participants having access to the Web – others
receive the same documents as attached files to e-mail mes- Balance sheet
sages. This allows the course team to be in regular and con- As a learning institution, IIEP is interested to identify the
tinuous contact with the course participants throughout the strengths and weaknesses of its programs from the partici-
course. pants. The identified strengths of the DL program included
the following:
Participants receive regular and frequent messages on the • The speed of e-mail as a communication vehicle.
course procedures and contents. Reminders of the tasks to be
• The concise, clear and comprehensive materials.
undertaken and the dates that institutional responses are due
• The possibility of a group of individuals to participate
are sent to individuals. A course hotline is set up to reply to
with little expense from the institution (without leaving
questions, whether in relation to content or concerning any
work or home).
technical problems.
• The possibilities to refer to documents and information
available in the institution to enhance responses and
In designing the interactive aspect of the course, the simplest
comments; the institutional setting also allows direct ap-
approach has been chosen – all interactions take place
plication of the skills and competencies acquired during
through e-mail messages to one IIEP address.
the course.
Well in advance of the formal start of the course, the com- • The enriching group discussions, sharing of experiences
munications-related information submitted by each institu- and IIEP comments.
tion is reviewed for potential problems and the communica- • The availability of a longer schedule allows more time
tions capacity tested by the sending of several trial messages. for reflection on the course content, for interaction with
Moreover, communication support from the IIEP address is others, and for sharing information and experiences
organized on a seven-days-a-week basis. among the participants.

The weaknesses identified included the following:

Course Outcome
• The time pressures associated with studying while re-
The ongoing outcome of the distance learning course is maining on the job.
measured through the responses to the tasks assigned. The • The lack of face-to-face contact.
final outcome is measured through an evaluation question- • The absence of evaluation of individual participant’s
naire collecting as much information as possible on the par- performance.
ticipants’ perception of the instructional design, course con- • The limited feedback on other institutions’ submissions.
tent, communication support and organization of the course.
• The lack of involvement of top management and policy-
It is noted that some institutions have taken immediate action
in setting up mechanisms for improving institutional man-
agement as a result of the course.
The outcome of the courses indicates that a carefully de-
signed distance learning course has the potential to offer an
Technical problems encountered efficient and effective method to meet the ever-increasing
The following is the list of the technical problems faced at demand from UNESCO Member States for the Institute’s
one time or another by at least one institution during the assistance in strengthening their national capacities through
courses held so far: human resource development.

! 62 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Technology as a Management Tool:
A New Approach to Implementation

For 40 years, the Academy for Educational Development has health and demographics and continuously incorporates the
been addressing critical social problems in the United States lessons of its use in the field. At present, it is available in
and throughout the world through research, training, educa- English, Spanish and French. Once implemented,
tion, social marketing and innovative program design. ED*ASSIST reduces the cycle of collecting, processing and
reporting national education data from years to months.
Improving access to education and creating systemic reform
are two of AED’s main areas of focus. The Academy has At a keystroke, ED*ASSIST can deliver reports on topics
been a leader in using information, education and communi- ranging from student demographics and attendance to teacher
cation technologies (IETCs) to extend learning opportunities training and availability, all broken down by geographic re-
and improve education systems. Our work has involved de- gion and school year. At the user’s discretion, the program
veloping software to improve the collection and analysis of presents the information in tabular, graphical or map form –
education data; implementing global programs that utilize all colorful visual images that make their point in a split sec-
traditional and state-of-the-art communication technologies ond and can be published as bulletins or reports or exported
to promote development in any sector; providing technical to a word processor or spreadsheet.
assistance in the design, use, and evaluation of new tech-
nologies for business, educational organizations, and gov- ED*ASSIST has many features that enhance its
ernment through the National Demonstration Laboratory for sustainability. Staff with limited computer skills can be
Interactive Information Technologies; working with the pri- trained to use it effectively. It is programmed to maintain
vate sector to expand technology opportunities for women in high data quality standards and practices to produce timely,
developing countries; training more than 1500 people in 16 reliable data. It supports decentralized education information
African countries on the use of the Internet for development systems. And it speeds up reporting by enabling staff to use
purposes; and partnering with a local community to create a “cut and paste” approach.
and support a Community Technology Center in an eco-
nomically distressed neighborhood. A traditional EMIS typically requires three to four years to
implement. AED was able to completely implement
Among the many examples of AED’s work in education us- ED*ASSIST in Nicaragua in four months. We provided
ing IETCs is one that forms the theme of this month’s issue training, technical assistance and the software toolkit, and
of TechKnowLogia – that of using technology as a manage- continue to provide hotline support and will install software
ment tool. AED has been a leader in developing computer upgrades as they develop. ED*ASSIST also offers Web site
software programs for gathering and processing education support.
statistics and the comprehensive training programs to teach
ministry officials and educational administrators how to pro- In Benin, the Benin Ministry of Education was able to catch
up with a three-year backlog of reporting in less than a year,
cess, interpret, and use the data they gather.
and with limited programming and staff. Statistics from a
Our foremost program in education management information fourth year were added and Benin has begun to decentralize
systems is ED*ASSIST – Education Automated Statistical data collection to the regions.
Information System Toolkit. This unique, state-of-the-art ES*ASSIST has proven to be a critical tool for decision
software program, developed by AED, is a baseline informa- making at the ministry and district levels and feedback on the
tion system that reflects best practices worldwide in the col- program has been excellent. We continue to refine our pro-
lection, processing and dissemination of education data. The gram and welcome your comments and observations.
software is designed to help plan, collect and process the
statistics that underlie wise strategy, sound management and Academy for Educational Development
responsible daily operations, and to afford all users easy ac- 1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW
cess to the information in a single database. Washington, DC 20009-5721
Telephone (202) 884-8000, fax: (202) 884-8941.
ED*ASSIST distills the lessons AED has learned in more Web site at
than 20 years of work with information systems in education,

! 63 ! TechKnowLogia, January/February, 2001 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.