People in Need’s EMA App is Improving Education in Angola22. 7. 2019
Technology is replacing more traditional teaching methods in Angola. In the central Angolan province of Huambo, People in Need (PIN) is piloting EMA – Education Monitoring Application, an app designed to help identify teacher’s weaknesses and support the decision-making process regarding training needs and professional development.
“If I take notes on paper, the teacher can think it’s something unimportant, which will be left aside in a box. But when there’s technological equipment involved, the teacher will take more care with the preparation of classes,” says Inácio Vitulo César, who works as a professor and a supervisor in the Huambo municipality. “The teacher will benefit from it,” he adds.
By using smartphones or tablets for data collection, supervisors can automatically send information about a teacher’s performance to a database. The app allows an automatic assessment of data, changing the current dynamics in which most of the information is not analysed regularly. Using EMA, technicians in the education sector can easily access the information available on the cloud to make strategic decisions about investments in human resources and actions aimed at the training of teachers.
“The app helps in many ways: it avoids a lot of paperwork, and the information reaches decision-making bodies much quicker. When we used paper, we had to fill in forms, submit them to the main coordinator who would then submit them to the decision-making authority,” remembers Euclides Próspero Celestino, one of the supervisors working on the piloting of EMA in schools. “Using the application is simple and convenient. I evaluate the class, and if I’m connected to the Internet, I can send the information right away,” he adds.
App monitoring in schools
In addition to evaluations about teacher performance, the application also includes an interactive map of the schools, information about the number of teachers and students and GPS coordinates.
Monitoring data will enable local education departments to have better knowledge about the situation in schools. Based on the information, relevant stakeholders will be able to create appropriate strategies to ensure more efficient functioning in the educational sector that will improve the quality of education in primary schools, which is the aim of the project. Some expected results include better time management and capacity building for teachers.
More than 1,000 schools and 64,000 students will benefit from the information provided by the application. “Students and our society as a whole will benefit, since a well-educated student will create a better society,” says Celestino.
Better questions = better answers
In addition to providing the technology, PIN is updating the observation checklist that supervisors fill in while in the classroom. For example, the previous checklist only mentioned ‘written language’ while, the new template divides this ability into two parts: ‘written language – grammar’, and ‘written language – handwriting.’ This allows for a more specific assessment of needs. Teachers’ performances will be rated on a scale of poor, bad, fair, good and excellent.
Supervisors and technicians in the education sector in Huambo are actively participating in the definition of the new questionnaire. “Our vision is to build the tool together with the supervisor, not provide a ready-made template unrelated to the context and reality of the work in the field,” says Edson Sawylly, PIN’s Project Manager in Angola.
After presenting the app to representatives of the sector and training supervisors about how to use the new tool, Sawylly coordinated a series of visits to schools to test it. PIN employees have also developed a manual for users. “EMA is very practical. Even people not used to technology can use it,” affirms Celestino.
The app can be used in other Angolan provinces
Working together with governmental institutions is an important sustainability strategy of the project. The app can very easily be incorporated with local and national education plans and it has the potential to be implemented in other Angolan provinces, as well.
PIN has been present in the management of the educational sector in Huambo province for a while now. For example, in 2015, we created the project JOGA (Join the Organizational Goals and Activities of Education). Although the project has concluded now, it helped to create a detailed action plan, including management assessment tools, observation of lessons and control of the effectiveness of teachers and administrative staff.
JOGA was also used to raise awareness about the function of the Pedagogical Zones of Influence (ZIPs, Zonas de Influência Pedagógica), clusters of schools that are linked together and cooperate by sharing knowledge and methods in order to improve the quality of education. Now, we hope to continue this type of work with the EMA app to improve professional development. Hopefully, this app will become a sustainable educational project that will continue to be used for many years to come.