To measure the impact of our interventions we had commissioned an impact study to Jigsaw. During two field trips in 2013 and 2015 data was collected from the programs in Ghana (and also in Zambia). One of the challenges for the impact study was the collection of school based data to track progress over time.
Before the program started the schools used to collect all their data in large paper based books. Once a year they filled in a paper form for school census data and provided that data to the circuit supervisors of the Ghana Education Service. The forms were forwarded to the regions and data entry for the Educational Management Information System (EMIS) was done for the country overview. A feedback loop from the national level back to the schools was never in place. Schools were not used to do something with collected data to improve their decision making and planning.'
The Theory of Change in our ICT in Education Program in Ghana was based on a combination of results that have to be in place: Building local ownership of the program + Building capacity of teachers in ICT integration in teaching + Creating and using local relevant content + low-cost ICT equipment for schools + Improved school management and administration using ICT + knowledge sharing & learning between projects would lead to increased learning outcomes for students at school based on more learner-centered and qualitative good lessons.
During the design phase we worked not only with our implementing partners, but included also head teachers, teachers and GES staff. Clear from the start was that administrative tasks in a paper based administration system are time consuming with many errors. Overviews of student progress and student attendance were not available. Tools to make this more efficient were needed, but to move directly to a full-fledged ICT system in schools were teachers had never used a computer before was also one step to far.
The first interventions were focused on performing time consuming administrative tasks using spreadsheets (creating a spreadsheet for student attendance, create a spreadsheet to collect the grades of students, etc) and Word (lesson plans) while learning in the same process basic ICT skills. Our capacity building program was focused on practical skills that teachers and administrators directly could use in their daily practice. This created a positive impact on teacher ICT use and confidence. Confidence that they later also used in the integration of ICT in the classroom.
At first creating digital lesson plans and Continuous Assessment Tools created a new challenge. The Ghana Education Service did not accept digital files. They preferred handwritten books. The reason was clear. Most circuit supervisors were not computer literate. After conducting capacity building and awareness training for the circuit supervisors and with support from GES regional management digital forms were accepted.
IICD wanted to build local development skills in the youth and create an affordable system based on local relevant needs. Local Tamale based youth from TechSupport Ghana were assigned to customize an open source school management information system (Opensis) based on the requirements. After a pilot in 4 schools (in 4 districts) the system was implemented in the 27 schools within the Connect4Change program in four regions in Ghana (Northern region, Upper West, Upper East and Volta Region). This SMIS replaces the separate files from Excel and Word that were used at the schools and will create an integrated system for data collection, analysis and decision making. This will make it easier to track student progress over time.
The first results of the implementation of the SMIS at the 27 schools are positive. From the impact study it was clear that the program had a positive impact on the way teachers and headmasters engage in their administrative roles. One teacher from Yoo RC in Savelugu District:“ICT is helping with the admin of being a teacher. I used to have lots of paper everywhere, now I keep all records in the computer. I record the student grades using Excel. The formula’s makes it quicker to analyze student progress”
This was also clear from a research conducted by Prof S Al-Hassan in four regions in Ghana under a sample of 640 schools in 40 districts. “The availability of ICT tools such as computers is meaningless unless an enabling environment is created for its use by school management”
The Ghana Education Service worked already for a longer time with an Educational Management Information System, but according to the Worldbank there are still big challenges in the implementation. Although a report from 2006 the challenges around lack of commitment of school and districts to collect data because a lack of capacity in terms of skills and equipment are still there. Part of the problem is that most of the data collected by the annual school census is not of use for the schools for decision making. Collecting data that is only collected for compliance and not valuable for own use is only time consuming. A logical reaction is delayed reporting. Through a school management information system you collect data that could be used on all levels. By the teachers to monitor progress of their students, by the school management to improve planning and decision making and for GES because schools provide accurate data in time without extra efforts.
In an Unesco report in 2015 two clear recommendations were given regarding EMIS / SMIS: “ improve the management of education service delivery through systematic collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of relevant & timely data for planning, policy making, programming, monitoring & evaluation in combination with the development of the capacity for effective use of data for decision making.”
One step further will be the publication of the aggregated data on the Ghana Open Data portal with 48 datasets available from 25 Government Agencies, but none of them for Education.
Conclusion: Ghana is on the right track. Intentions are good, but there is still long way before all schools are able to collect, compile, analyze and use the data collected at their own schools for their own decision making or that parents can use the data to identify the best school based on the open data for their children.
 IICD (www.iicd.org) and Edukans (www.edukans.nl) are two Dutch NGO’s. The were partners in Connect4Change a consortium of IICD, Edukans, Cordaid, ICCO and AKVO around ICT4Development in Education, Health and Agriculture funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Netherlands
 C4C Education Ghana Alliance (http://c4cghanaalliance.org/) consist of Savana Signatures, Presyterian Education Unit, Ibis in Ghana, Peps-c, Wadep and GINKS)
 Jigsaw http://www.jigsawconsult.com/ is an UK based social enterprise specialized in M&E in developing countries
 IICD works with the Social Innovation process: a participatory Round Table process with co-creation with stakeholders during the Solution Design Workshops, Knowledge Sharing 7 learning events and Capacity Building of local implementing partners to design, implement, maintain and sustain the projects
 TechSupport Ghana was established with support of IICD (http://techsupportghana.net/ )
 From http://iicd.org/documents/c4c-ict-for-education-study-lessons-learned-report/
 Report The Availability and use of ICT in teaching, December 2014, UDS commissioned by C4C Education Ghana Alliance
 Worldbank 2006: http://www.infodev.org/infodev-files/resource/InfodevDocuments_502.pdf
 Education for all 2015 National Review Ghana, Unesco