By Juliet Nanfuka
A recently concluded Situational Analysis Report focusing on the Education Department in Mayuge District, Eastern Uganda, found that voids exist in the flow of information between citizens and leaders, leading to restricted participation in decision making processes.
The poor flow of information in the sector has contributed to poor service delivery and a negative attitude amongst some members of the community towards funding their children’s education. It was revealed that some citizens, including local leaders, did not know where to find information on education or had no way of reaching information points including the district headquarters. Reports of information hoarding had further strained the school-parent relationship, resulting in parents calling for more involvement in the management of schools.
The findings of the study are based on desk research, interviews with district officials and focus group discussions which involved head-teachers, teachers, parents and members of the community on local school boards. This was also supported by a SWOT analysis that aimed at understanding the flow and management of information within the education department at district level. The study was conducted by the Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative (BROSDI) in the context of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa initiative.
According to the study, parents and teachers primarily relied on radio to receive district level education related information while word of mouth was the secondary source of relevant information. Meanwhile, according to the District officials, the Education Department’s primary tool for disseminating information was through short message service (SMS) to parents and head teachers. This revealed a disconnect in information reception and dissemination with the probability that not all information is received from the Department in a timely manner if the community preferred radio to SMS. In addition, there was no efficient means for community members to raise issues with the education department.
Information flow gaps such as these need to be addressed utilising the most widely used and accessed ICT tools by both parents and teachers. This would reduce the timeframe in which information has to travel, maintain the integrity of information, and reach larger numbers of community members. These ICT can also support more inclusivity of the community members in the district education decision making processes in the pursuit of a more accountable, transparent and effective governance.
On the service delivery front, although the research commended the current leadership style for timely delivery of scholastic materials, it was faulted for its failure to address challenges such as understaffing, low teaching standards and inspectors not reaching remotely located schools.
Respondents noted the need for better flow of information as a means of addressing these challenges and maintaining current strengths including the provision of teachers in understaffed schools, infrastructure such as direct water access in schools and improved access roads to schools. The maintenance and monitoring of these challenges can rely on the efficient use of ICT to relay information between the community and the district education department.
The report highlighted social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter) and interactive websites including the District website in conjunction with existing mechanisms such as SMS and the district notice board as tools that can serve to improve service delivery and participation in the district’s education sector.
See the full report here.
By Juliet Nanfuka