EduTrac Peru: Building the School We Want
Launched: August 2015
Community Engagement Supported by RapidPro in Peru
The countrywide 2015 School Performance Census of second grade students (ECE 2015), implemented by the Peruvian Ministry of Education, shows a systemic problem of low learning achievements. Students who attend rural, multigrade schools obtain the lowest results. Teacher and student attendance, timely receipt of educational materials and maintenance of school infrastructure are considered important elements that contribute to the improvement of learning.
Improving education requires informed, culturally relevant, and timely decisions. This is particularly difficult in the poor, rural areas of the Andean and Amazonian regions, where gathering information represents a major logistical challenge.
Recognising the community as a key stakeholder in gathering information and making decisions, UNICEF Peru designed and implemented EduTrac Peru: Building the School We Want. Through community engagement strategies and methodologies to support decentralized education management, EduTrac Peru collects data from stakeholders on a regular basis. This information is used to mobilise the community to take action and inform collaborative decision-making between communities and local authorities. Provincial and regional authorities will be integrated into the next phase of the project.
Community surveillance is conducted by reporters in each community: a community leader, a member of the parent committee, and school principal. Students were also considered, but communities decided not to include them in the first stage of the project because of the potential for repercussions against student reporters.
UNICEF Peru is leveraging RapidPro, an open source software platform, to support and strengthen education systems. Questions for 4 key indicators are programmed with logic and automated so that a specific set of reporters receive questions over SMS on their mobile phones. Their responses are collected and stored in RapidPro.
1. How many girls attended class on Friday?
2. How many boys attended class on Friday?
Student enrolment by gender is displayed on the left, with weekly attendance shown on the right (extract from a monthly report).
1. How many female teachers were present on Friday?
2. How many male teachers were present on Friday?
The number of teachers, by gender, is displayed on the left with teacher attendance shown on the right (extract from a monthly report).
Timely receipt of educational material
1. Has your school already received all textbooks?
2. If NO, how many are you missing?
These questions are repeated until reporters confirm receipt of all books.
The number of textbooks received is displayed along with the number of missing books (extract from a monthly report).
1. Has your school received the Ministry of Education's allowance for school maintenance?
This question is repeated until reporters confirm receipt of the allowance.
2. If YES: Are you noticing any improvements to your school's infrastructure?
Once the allowance is received, this question is asked on a weekly basis until reporters confirm improvements to school infrastructure.
This report shows that the principal has received the allowance but is not yet using the money to improve school infrastructure (extract from a monthly report).
Each question is answered by each reporter to assure quality data. If the three responses differ, a field promoter will begin an investigation to determine the valid response. Valid results are published in user-friendly reports which are discussed at monthly decision meetings. Some decisions are made directly by communities, others are made collaboratively with communities and local education authorities, and some are made by provincial and regional authorities. This joint decision-making mechanism gives a voice to communities, makes authorities accountable, and improves transparency and service delivery. Decisions made without stakeholder input or consideration create an environment of frustration and powerlessness that lead to apathy; however, the feedback loop established by EduTrac Peru gives communities a voice in decision-making thereby improving the relevance of the decisions.
The first stage of EduTrac Peru was implemented from August - December 2015 in 75 preschools, primary and secondary schools reaching a total of 2,500 students and 250 teachers. The focus for this stage was on schools that have mobile phone coverage in the Ucayali (Amazon jungle) and Ayacucho (Andes mountains) regions. Through community engagement supported by technology, communities and local authorities were able to make important decisions to improve their school situation. A few of the examples are:
- awareness campaigns by community members for parents that have problems sending their children to school;
- opening hours of the Local Education Office modified so teachers don't have to leave early from school;
- grass cut so children are not afraid of snakes along the way to school;
- shelters built along the way to school to protect children from heavy rainfall;
- the town mayor provided copies of textbooks that did not arrive;
- the mayor gave incentives to the best performing schools with respect to student and teacher attendance; and
- second hand furniture provided for schools in need.
This model of community engagement supported by timely monitoring using RapidPro appears to be an effective tool in generating demand, participation and accountability at the local level. Stakeholders previously lacked a space to voice their opinions and take ownership of education problems within their communities. EduTrac Peru has created a space for those conversations and community representatives seem genuinely motivated to participate. This combination of community mobilization with timely data has shown promising results.
With additional funding, EduTrac Peru will be implemented for the full 2016 academic year (March - December) with the same stakeholders, but with additional involvement from education authorities.
by Bram Van Haver, UNICEF M&E Section, Lima, Peru