School Report Cards System: What works in Lira Town College & northern Uganda

On Monday, February 06, 2017, I wrote a Request for Proposals (RFP) for School Report Card System which I duly posted on two mail forums. Before I go far, let me give a little information about myself.

My name is Angoda Emmanuel (prefer it in that order), and I work with Lira Town College as Teacher (ICT) and also serve as Head of ICT. I have been in this position since 2012, after finishing a Bsc. IT degree from Gulu University.

Lira Town College is located in heart of Lira town (opposite Stanbic bank) and we currently have student enrollment of about 3,000 students & 97 teachers.

In Lira Town College, each class in divided up into “streams” each having between 70-120 students.

As Head of Department (HOD), I have taken initiatives to incorporate ICT into several school activities, these in order to increase efficiency, cut costs and keep up these today’s tech trends.

In 2012, I started by designing regular school documents such as letterheads, students leave chits, meal cards & class lists. For all these, MS Office was just more than enough, although before me, no one bothered.

Around that time, I saw that the challenge of writing manual report cards with carbon copies was tedious, dirty and very inefficient. (It took 3 days to get class position of a whole class). So, in 2013, we experimented with Bestgrade. It worked well mostly in A-level. However, our unstructured way of doing things meant that it could not work well especially in O-level that has hundreds of students. Coupled with limited expertise in computer use, we abandoned it & reverted back to manual system, after only 2 school terms.

In May 2015, I got into contact with Alex, a software developer based in Dar el Salaam, Tanzania (the land of another JPAM). I was on short holiday and he is exceeding good in web applications.

His dad was a friend to our Headteacher, and he happened to tel her about the young man’s system. Consequently, Alex brough the system to school & after taking due diligence on the system, we got it (on credit since it was holidays of First term). I have considerable experience in web applications, so together, we customized it to our requirements in the week that followed. Alex’s system was called “KSIS” – Kreative School Information System. He further told me that his system was popular in Dar es Salaam and surrounding areas.

Pros of KSIS

  • Allows importing data from MS Excel

  • it has good security .i.e assigning users

  • Beautiful interface & awesome usability features.

  • Easy to generate difference reports, per class, per subject, per student.

  • Easy to print

  • Easy installation using Apache, meaning you can run it as many PC’s as you like.

Cons:

  • difficult to assign subjects to students. This is the single most frustrating thing with this system. Only one class takes a week to assign subjects.

  • Weak backup system. It is difficult to recover data in event of computer malfunction.

The need for new system:

considering the non-formal way in which our school operates, I saw that we need a new system that operates pretty much in the way our people operate, without compromising quality & efficiency.

So, in short, we need a system that can adapt to our system, not we adapting to the system.

In northern Uganda, most secondary & primary schools operate like that. No good paper records, no clear separation of responsibilities, no clear common vision, no solid principles & of course no ethics. We do not have the sophistication, managerial efficiency & organization of Kampala & Wakiso.

Despite the above, we have some really good schools that have managed to produce good academic results despite those issues. Dr. Obote College, Lango College, St. Joseph’s College Layibi, Sir Samuel Baker School, St. Mary’s College Aboke, St. Katherine S.S, Sacred Heart S.S, Ocer Campion Jesuit College et cetera.

Submissions:

Firstly, I want to sincerely thank all the individuals & companies that responded to my call /request. In total, I received 17 submission & a couple of phone calls. The list is as below:

#

Name

Email

Company

Contact

1

Owachiu Denis

owachgiu@gmail.com

Dextra Uganda Ltd

0779660771

2

Ronald Eyit

ronieyit@gmail.com

0782151413

3

Samson

samson@schoolplus.co

SchoolPlus

0755425707

4

Vincent ML

vincenmangeni@gmail.com

_

0782186210

5

IdeaLink

info@.idealink@gmail.com

IdeaLink

6

Calvin Mugarura

mugarurac@gmail.com

Blue Node Media

0782689850

7

Chris R. Kasangaki

chriskasangaki@gmail.com

_

0772648222

8

Sonko Emmanuel

sonkoemmanuel@gmail.com

_

0777970780

9

Carol Mugabi

cmugabi@eygo.biz

EYGO Ltd

_

10

Kenneth Otto

kennethotto6@gmail.com

_

_

11

Sam Nturanabo

snturanabo@gmail.com

otimgerald@gmail.com

_

0777671455

12

Alex Oyite

alex@fixpertsug.com

Fixperts Uganda Ltd

(School Grade Book)

0783471120

13

Daniel Kakinda

dkakinda@yahoo.com

_

_

14

Hakim Sabunwala

Hakim.sabunwala@gmail.com

_

_

15

Paul Bukol Mweru

paul@streamtechnologies.com

Stream Technologies Ltd

0776566115

16

Lauren Babirye

sales@schoolmaster.co.ug

SchoolMasters

0781771867

17

Ronald Sebuhinja

sebsronnie@gmail.com

SchoolMasters

_

Observations:

1. High prices. Most individuals have overpriced their solutions. This issue of bringing Kampala prices to Oyam or Kole is a big issues that developers have to take care of. A school that charges 250,00 as fees/tuition can never pay 5 million for software, however. Think developers should have high price, high-end apps for Kampala & Wakiso elite schools but also develop low-cost but functional applications for rural folks with limited resources. Going open source is good & may be instead of having one-time purchase, we introduce termly contracts or outsourcing.

2. Standalone systems. Most submissions are standalone systems with little compatibility with other systems. Basically, they are closed systems. To complicate matters, these systems are designed with strict & fixed “license regimes”. If the computer on which the system is installed malfunctions & you want to run the OS, you loose everything & have to call again to have it re-installed. These phenomenon is what has rendered CyberSchool project useless in most schools. People always want to do many things on a single PC.

3. Comprehensive package or specific solution? Most solutions submitted are what their developers call “School Management System” which purportedly has different sub-components for managing accounts, HR, students, reports, admission & procurement. I think it would be good to have only “School Report Cards System”, something small & specialized to handle only that aspect. This will certainly make the system small, user friendly and considerably cheaper. Most teachers & schools only want results to be computed speedily, efficiently & stored securely for future use/analysis. The issue of integrating accounts info, registration info, class attendance or gate pass is good but sounds so out of this world (northern Uganda).

My Preferences:

Personally, due to extensive experience I have with web applications, I would go for the following:

  • Web based system that runs on Apache

  • Should be able to allow upload of students data from MS Excel

  • Search of students across levels, class & streams.

  • Easier way of entering marks.

  • Auto-generated remarks & grading.

  • Customization of settings such as grade limits, passwords.

  • Ability to export student reports as individual PDF files for easy storage.

  • Should be able to aggregate grade summaries, performance charts, list best performers.

  • Should be able to produce marksheet (whole class with the respective subject marks for verification).

  • Should be able to run online securely (if the school can host it).

  • Should be able to check missing marks & typo errors (values such as 123).

  • should be able to take into consideration all subject papers & their allocated marks. (e.g. Paper 1, Paper 2, Paper 3).

  • Easier way of selecting subjects using responsive check boxes, but compulsory subjects can be auto-checked at once at the top.

  • Good use of security features such as serial number for each report card, watermark feature & printing date & time.

  • Should be able to print individual reports as well class reports for all students.

  • Good backup mechanism & system restore procedures.

Conclusion

Once again, thank you all for your submissions. I have realized that the ICT sector in Uganda is vibrant and we have many young ambitious professionals ready to develop world-changing solutions. I am ready to host you in Lira (male developers) so you can run around these schools and extend your market to northern Uganda. Lira Town College system requires a change. Lango College also uses the same system as ours. Dr. Obote College Boroboro still uses BestGrade & complain endlessly. And so many schools.

Also developers should target mock examination bodies across the country. In Lango subregion, we have Lango Secondary Schools Mock Examination Association (LASSMEA). LASSMEA registers over 10,000 students and struggle each year to compute & process results. In second term, I can host (free meals & accomodation) developers who are ready to meet the management of LASSMEA to see how to capture the area.

The school term has just started and I encourage developers to design affordable solutions within a range of UGX 400,000 to 1,000,000 for northern Uganda market. And lastly, I like this quote from Mother Teresa, “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

Asante Sana. Apwoyo Matek.

One thought on “School Report Cards System: What works in Lira Town College & northern Uganda

  1. Thanks technovation liberator, I think school master programme is one of those thàt can serve us well coz i have ever used it before and there is not much challenges

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