Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives. (300 words maximum)
The North East Region in the Ministry of Basic Education, Botswana, in response to Maitlamo Policy (government ICT policy) 2.4 for the following National ICT Objectives:
2.4.1 A culture of lifelong learning that maximises the potential within all citizens and accelerates innovation to develop knowledge based system
2.4.2 Government services available electronically
2.4.4 Access to relevant, localised and understandable information for all citizens
The region introduced ICT Integration into teaching and learning project. To enhance ICT Integration and data management, the region developed a web-based interactive platform (e-Thuto) currently consisting of two modules: The e-learning module and the data management module. The e-learning module is targeting teachers, learners with parental involvement. It also host e-content for various subjects. Teachers and learners interacting with the system and having a parental link.
The Data management module, is where the regional data (staff and student) information is managed digitally. The initiative resulted in the creation of one virtual office where all the regional data is managed and stored. Information including individual learner performance can be accessed here. The system is designed such that the school head can access all data at school level and similarly the Regional Director can accesses data for all schools in the region.
A lot of information that was processed manually or separately in different institutions is now achieved collectively on the e-Thuto system, these now automated.
The region was also implementing Botswana Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) 2015 – 2020.
4.2 All 10 Critical Sector Strategic Priorities
Objectives of the project
- Equip teachers with ICT skills for effective delivery of the curriculum
- Develop a web-based interactive system to inculcate students and the workforce with lifelong learning skills
- Provide a secure and mass storage of the regional data.
- Introduce services with artificial intelligence.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category. (100 words maximum)
ICT Integration into teaching and learning emphasizes the use of digital technology in order to transform teaching from the over used teacher centred approaches to learner centred approaches.
The e-Thuto system has also digitised some functions that were normally done manually. This created one virtual office putting together data that would have been normally kept in different storerooms in different schools and offices. Data that was normally seen at school level only is also accessible to the regional management as well. The system also automated the data analysis and other related functions.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation. (200 words maximum)
SDG - Goal 4
Targets – 4.7 and 4.a
In driving the implementation of Goal 4 and Targets 4.7 and 4.a the ICT Integration project gives both learners and teachers 21st Century skills in which all gain knowledge and skills as outlined on target 4.7. Learners are given research skills in which they collaborate with different people across the globe leading to global citizenship. Collaboration and sharing of information does not lead to cultural diversity only but also promotes culture of peace. Information sharing also enhances development.
The ICT Integration approach provides an effective learning environment for all. The government provides various ICT gadgets to cater for different learners and the ICT Integration project supports schools in implementing these so that they benefit the intended groups.
Although this may not address all aspects as outlined in the two targets (4.7 & 4.a), this ensures that there is inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. (100 words maximum)
Some of the factors that contributed to the sustainability of the initiative is that both the ICT Integration project including e-Thuto system were initiated , designed and developed in the region by a team of officers in the region.
Before the project could be rolled out, teachers, regional and school managements were given training relevant to their needs as regards to the project. There is a technical team both at region and school level. These were also given training in order to adequately support the project where there are based. They also provide technical support to their primary feeder schools.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
The initiative has bridged some shortfalls through the e-Thuto system in the administration of education both at school and regional level in the following ways:
- A lot of data that was stored manually is now stored electronically. This include student and staff information at school and regional level
Information sharing and retrieval
- With e-Thuto information sharing is easier and faster. Information at school level is also accessible at regional level.
- The e-Thuto system is accessed especially for those inputting data through passwords and user accounts. In that everyone with such access is accountable for information that was captured through their accounts. Accounts privileges are based on designation. The school head and other members of the school management team can see the whole school yet class teachers may not have access to everything and at a higher level the Regional Director is able to access all schools in the region.
- Accurate and timely results subject to timely data input.
- Data communication faster than the normal manual process
- Access to data is easier resulting in quick decision making.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
ICT Integration into teaching and learning was introduced across the subjects and also made compulsory. Introducing it across the subjects and making it compulsory caters for issues of gender inequality because all learners will be exposed to the use of ICT and ultimately gaining the 21st Century Skills. This also applies to all members of staff as well. The trainings conducted targeted all staff who in one way or the other are using the system in their daily functions. This ultimately will increase the number of females using ICT that was initially predominantly used by male only.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
Regional administration team – Members of staff in the regional office dealing with schools
- Have direct access to regional and school data
- Quick retrieval and relaying of information between regional office and schools
Education Officers – Officers at the region whose mandate is to support schools particularly on issues of teaching and learning
- Have access to teacher and student performance in their subjects
- Collaboration between officers, teachers and learners easier and faster
- Data output is as required
School administrative team – this is a team that is charged with the daily administration of schools including school leadership
- Ease access to staff, students profiles and other related information
- Quick and timely decision making due to faster data transmission
- Data readily available to all based on access privileges
- Easier and quick communication link with the parents.
- Schools and the regional office no longer need large spaces for data storage
Teachers – Curriculum implementers at school level
- Digital interaction between teachers and learners
- Acquired 21st Century skills
- Easier involvement in children learning
Above all, this has also answered the government policy of going digital.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
The region took the initiative to implement ICT Integration into teaching and learning and also to automate operations of the region. To achieve this, the region put together a committee to see the development and implementation of the project.
Committee composition with representatives across stakeholders
- Project Coordinator
- Regional management
- Education officers
- School management
- Parents teachers Association
- Ministry Headquarters
The committee gave direction to the project and also came up with the project objectives and outcomes.
Packages targeting different stakeholders were developed and thereafter workshops conducted for the following:
- Each section was given training relevant to their duties, but the management as the custodian of the project went through everything.
- As curriculum leaders and school managers, these were taken through the whole package as well and key to this was for them to have a buy in.
- Teachers were trained on teaching with technology for them to be able to deliver the 21st Century learner.
Parents Teachers Association
This group is a link between teachers and parents. These helped disseminate the project and its expectations to the parents.
We put together a team of five ICT officers which was then given the scope and specification for the system. The team came up with a brilliant web-based system which after testing and piloting was implemented in twenty one secondary schools connected to the government data network.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring tools and evaluation schedules were developed and shared with stakeholders. For ICT Integration schools submit three reports annually. School visits are also undertaken to verify sent reports and render support. E-Thuto is also evaluated periodically.
e-THUTO SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
When the project started, there were no funds for the project, despite the region having solicited for funding from ministry headquarters. We had to do with prioritization, using funds initial intended for different aspects. One of the obstacles we faced was shortage of laptops and related software. To overcome this we went into partnership with Human Resource Development Council who then supported us with Servers and laptops.
All primary schools are not connected to government data network hence no access to live e-Thuto system. For them not to be left out, there were given e-Thuto offline version.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
Currently e-Thuto is the first and only e-learning platform in the region. It enables the region with all its institutions to collaborate in one platform. Since the system was developed in the region, it directly addresses challenges bedeviling education delivery and management in the region. Most of the systems in schools deal with results analysis only.
Technology based teaching has given teachers and learners significant skills in research and also enabled them to be innovative.
The system also automated major operations of the region and more will be added since the system is scalable.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiative in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
In adopting ICT Integration into teaching and learning, this was influenced by training done by different International organisations like Microsoft Cooperation and British Council Connecting Classrooms project. In connecting classrooms, schools from Botswana collaborate with some schools in the United Kingdom.
For e-Thuto we bench-marked on some local developed programs but most of these are on data management only. The initiative was also inspired by the Israel approach towards integrating technology in education. Some officers from the region and headquarters who directed in shaping the project and also as resource persons went through training on ICT Integration in Israel.
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
Not yet transferred to other regions.
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
The system was presented to the Ministry management and the project was endorsed by the Ministry management. We were requested by the Ministry management through Department of ICT & Media Services to come up with a national roll-out plan . The plan included the operational structure for the whole project and the budget. Other stakeholders like Department of Information Technology (DiT) came on board in preparation for the national roll-out. DiT is the custodian of Government networks and internet and will host e-thuto in their data-centres and this will make it possible for Primary schools to access the system.
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
- Finances were put towards training stakeholders especially those directly involved with the implementation of the project. Most of the finances were used on feeding, transport and accommodation.
- The region bought laptops for the e-Thuto developer team
- We had resource persons from ICT and Media Services and the Department Training and Development. They trained teachers and Education officers on ICT Integration into teaching and learning. We had e-Thuto system developers and the Coordinator.
Hardware and Software
- Servers, laptops with relevant software, computer laboratories for training stakeholders, government data network hosting e-Thuto servers and internet connectivity.
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
The whole project was initiated in the Region, hence most of the resources (human and financials) were drawn from the Region.
The regional staff were trained and also supported in the implementation of the project. Each secondary school has an ICT officer supporting the project technically at school level and also covering primary schools. These were given appropriate induction. The use of regional staff to drive the project makes it affordable and sustainable. We also have a monitoring and evaluation system in place to keep the initiative moving.
To sustain the initiative, it is integrated in the regional operations.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
The initiative was evaluated internally by different stakeholders. The ICT committee periodically evaluates the project. Monitoring tools were developed and these were given to end users who completes them and send to the Project office for evaluation. This part focuses mainly on ICT Integration into teaching and learning.
The technical team did a couple of testing, piloting and evaluations of the e-Thuto system before it was rolled out to all twenty one secondary schools on government data network. This also was based on end user feedback.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used. (100 words maximum)
Indicators - ICT Integration
- Increase in the number of teachers integrating ICT
- Number of teachers progressing from one level to another
- Positive feedback from learners
- staff and learner profile
- Minimal request for manual data
- Quick access and retrieval of data
- Increase in the system Hit – count
- Stakeholder collaboration
- End of Term ICT Integration monitoring and evaluation tool. For compiling data from different tools used for monitoring different aspects in schools.
- E-Thuto monitoring and survey tool. Used for collection of data on the use of e-Thuto.
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how this information is being used to inform the initiative’s implementation. (200 words maximum)
Equipment and facilities in schools
Primary – inadequate
Secondary - adequate
The percentage of teachers integrating ICT is 11.2% in Secondary schools and 22.3% in primary schools. Therefore, the teacher ICT level is categorised as shown below:
From schools that submit monitoring tools
- 85% feel its user friendly and addressing their needs
- 67.5% feel is accessible
- 80% feel training was relevant for the system implementation
Quality of implementation
- There was no funds specifically allocated for the project.
Resistance to the initiative by some end users
- Some schools did not fully embrace ICT Integration because they felt it would delay the delivery of the curriculum.
- Some schools not supporting implementation and monitoring of the project
- Limited funding
- Limited resources especially ICT gadgets
- ICT Integration in schools
- Functional Regional electronic data management system
- Application of 21st Century skills by staff and learners
- Project developed in-house using regional staff and resources
To address the challenges based on the findings, focused training was done first to deal with mindset. Partnership with stakeholders financed training and equipment. Government furbishing schools with ICT gadgets.
Please describe how the initiative strives to work in an integrated manner within its institutional landscape – for example, how does the initiative work horizontally and/or vertically across different levels of government? (200 words maximum)
The vertical dimension in our situation refers to the link between the higher levels (regional management) and lower levels (school level). The mandate of the region is to manage its institutions, finances and information flow. The initiative addresses this aspect especially e-Thuto. The system created one virtual office and the regional management through the system has access to individual school data. The regional management has a direct link with schools and vice versa. This has also led to easier and quick information sharing and were necessary capacity building is done to address the challenges faced.
In our situation this refers to cooperation arrangement between subjects and department in schools. This also covers cooperation across schools. The e-Thuto is such that learners and teachers can collaborate internally and across schools. Here common challenges and successes are shared resulting in improvement in performance. Content created is shared and critiqued across the level.
e-Thuto works well in an integrated manner within the institutional landscape.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
For the project to start, the region went into partnership with different organisations and government departments. The main stakeholders that contributed towards the implementation of the project were:
Human Resources Development Council (HRDC)
- A government parastatal whose mandate is to make sure that the national workforce is relevant to the country needs. HRDC supplied the following ICT gadgets for the designing, development and implementation of the project – Servers, laptops, digital cameras and projectors). In this, HRDC was also supporting the e-governance policy in education.
Department of ICT and Media Services
- This is a department in the Ministry of Basic Education whose mandate is implementation of ICT Integration into teaching and Learning as well as Television and Radio broadcasting. They seat in the regional ICT committee for the project. They provided and continue to provide financial assistance as well as giving direction and guidance on ICT policy issues. They also provided resource persons for the ICT Integration training.
Department of Information Technology (DIT)
- Facilitator and administrator of Information and Communication Technology services across the public services. e-Thuto servers are hosted on the government data network. DIT will be evaluating e-Thuto so that it is made compatible with their Datacentres.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
Use what you have to achieve more
- With the little budget the region was allocated in which the project was not included, the region was able to prioritise and a project was implemented.
Project Plan and Management
- For a project to run effectively a clear and detailed project plan is needed
- Deliverables to be clearly understood by all stakeholders
- A budget is needed for a project
- In a project, especially of this magnitude, stakeholders are needed so that they fill gaps were you fallshot. Going in partnership with HRDC, ICT & Media Serves and DIT worked very well for us and these fitted in different aspects of the project.
- No matter how knowledgeable you are, you need to benchmark with other entities that have undertaken similar projects. This will give you directions on where the world is heading and how challenges were overcome leading to a global competitive product.
It is vital important that stakeholders are prepared, equipped and supported in order to successfully embrace and drive organisational innovations.
To improve the initiative other sections not automated to be included so that all regional operations are digital.