The Impact of Education Management Information Systems: The Case of Afghanistan

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In some fragile states, where the education sector has faced direct attack, physical monitoring of development programs becomes a hugely complex and dangerous task. In this context, Afghanistan is an excellent example of how investment in Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) can strengthen overall monitoring systems in a country.  In some provinces, there has been an improvement in accountability and transparency but challenges remain.    

After the establishment of the interim administration (following the Bonn Conference) in 2001, rebuilding the education sector was one of the first priorities of the new government as well as the international community. However, with no reliable data, planning and financing of the sector proved difficult. Even so, the US$460 million Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP) was launched in 2004, supported by the World Bank and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. Increasing the use of ICT has been a priority under EQUIP II, which is the largest education program in the country. Indeed, the rapid evolution of EMIS has been one of its most important achievements.

When the program began, the EMIS had just a few rudimentary applications and a cumbersome centralized system of data collection. Data pertaining to schools and students used to be collected using a paper based system, and stories abounded of student information sheets being brought to Kabul hidden in vegetable trucks.  

As the education sector grew, the government realized the importance of accurate data for decision-making. In the last few years, several IT based initiatives have been implemented to ensure accurate education data is collected, collated and reported to all stakeholders in a meaningful manner and within a reasonable timeframe. Today, a single centralized portal provides comprehensive education data to stakeholders at the click of a button.

Also, mobile applications and GIS systems have allowed more citizen engagement.  A pilot in Uruzgon, a highly insecure province, involved principals and school management committees in monitoring schools using simple mobile phones.  Despite some of the parents only having basic education they were able to successfully transmit data to the center and actively participate in the process. Similarly, community monitors have been using mobile apps to track the quality of school construction. These are all important experiments that have contributed to making technology an intrinsic part of the education management system.

Let’s take a closer look at the several components constituting the EMIS.

The Student Management System provides details regarding students, their demographic data, class status, and more. Each student is mapped to a school and each school is identified by a unique code. An attempt is underway to identify each student in any given school through the use of a unique ID. The Teacher Management Information System tracks the induction, training and professional development of teachers. This allows the Ministry to develop needs-based career development programs for teachers. It is a critical intervention in an environment where nearly 30 percent of teachers lack proper qualifications. 

The School Management System provides details of all schools location, type of school, number of class rooms, toilets, library, science labs, etc. An independent Infrastructure Management Information System currently being developed computerizes all stages of infrastructure development. The Asset Management System monitors the operations and maintenance information of all the infrastructure assets in the country. These three systems together allow Ministry leadership to easily identify infrastructure gaps and track the installation, usage and maintenance of all school infrastructure in the country.

How do we know what students in Afghanistan are learning? The first ever national learning assessment for students is being done using tests specially configured for computing tablets. Once the tests are completed test results are transferred and computed on standardized computing platforms in real time. It is impressive that even students even in poor, remote areas are using tablets, often for the very first time. 

With a history of easy manipulation in the past, today’s Certificate Distribution System allows the Ministry to easily identify authentic students registered in the system and distribute school leaving certificates only to them. This automated process has reduced the time of distribution of certificates from as long as 3 years to a few months.

In the face of deep-seated patronage and nepotism, transparent human resource management has been a particular challenge. The Human Resource Management Information System was developed to manage the entire work cycle of the hundreds of thousands of Technical Assistants working in the Ministry including their selection, induction, performance assessment, payment and promotion. 

In short, Afghanistan is an excellent example of how IT has transformed the management of education despite many obstacles to success.  Not only has it given policy makers and leaders reliable data to work with, but it has also empowered local communities to get involved in their children’s education. 

Click here for more information about Afghanistan and the use of ICT in education.

Follow the World Bank Group Education team on Twitter @wbg_education


Samantha de Silva

Senior Social Protection Specialist, World Bank Group

Pradeep Valsangkar

Consultant, Transport and ICT

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