For many years, the National Teachers Colleges (NTCs) faced challenges with record keeping and managing college activities. College data was often lacking or inaccessible. Information regarding student admissions, staff and student registration, inventory management and student results was often recorded on paper and stored in files making it hard to maintain or access. Various attempts to solve the issue were explored, including developing and using multiple tools to manage college activities. Unfortunately, these efforts were unsuccessful.
Together with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the National Teacher’s colleges, we conducted a study to assess the data management issue in the NTCs and devise a viable solution to the problem. The idea to create a digital system to harmonize student and staff information and ease information sharing at all levels of academic management was born.
Creating a local solution to a local problem!
In 2019, during Kampala Innovation week, Enabel participated in a Hackathon to support Teacher colleges in Uganda to find digital solutions to their challenges. Olara James, an ICT officer at National Teachers College (NTC) Unyama, emerged as the winner with an idea for Academic Management Software (AMS). His vision for this software, once created, was that it would improve the holistic management for academic institutions.
We folded our sleeves and got our hands dirty working with him and the NTCs to bring this dream to life despite the pandemic.
In 2021 (2 years later), the Academic Management System (AMS) was finally created. It was piloted and introduced in the National Teachers’ Colleges of Muni, Unyama, Mubende, Kaliro and Kabale. These colleges are now using the software for proper human resource management, assessing school practice sessions and e-learning purposes. This system has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the colleges, so much so that other institutions of higher learning, like the Faculty of Education at Gulu University and vocational training institutions in Karamoja, Masindi and Nakapiripirit, are adopting it.
We are happy to have supported a local idea transforming education in Uganda.
How the Academic Management Software works.
The AMS is a web-based software developed for academic institutions to manage educational activities and programs electronically. It supports student and staff registration, admissions, School Practice assessment, inventory management, exams assessment and compilation of results. The software is fully functional in the National Teacher’s Colleges and has over 5000 staff and students registered.
The Academic Management software resulted from a co-creation process between the Ministry of Education and NTCs to address the challenge of information/data access in the colleges. In a participatory manner, NTC staff customized the system to fit their needs.
During an interaction with James Muhwezi, NTC Kaliro’s Deputy Principal, he noted that the AMS is a central repository for data and information that has eased access to information in the NTCs. Before the AMS was developed, colleges and the Education Ministry staff needed help accessing vital information and data from the college administrators. Information was stored and stacked in piles of files and often required extensive periods to access. The software now provides a smart way of filing, storing and accessing information. Once recorded manually on paper, data can be accessed directly with a single click. “Most of the time, when students and staff information is required, the administration and ministry can access that information instantly,” James added.
The system also ensures the safety and remote access of information. Staff no longer worry about losing valuable information because the system is cloud-based. According to Olara James, the lead developer of the AMS, the software guarantees data safety. “Paper-based reporting was risky. Sometimes documents were misplaced; but with the Academic Management System, data safety is assured. All one has to do is upload the information and retrieve it at their convenience.”
The AMS has equally improved the college staff’s digital capacity to manage college activities. With easy access to data, college managers can generate and submit timely reports to the Ministry of Education in a limited period because the information is readily available at their fingertips.
Regarding sustainability, the software is embedded in each NTCs’ Website to ensure regular system updates and maintenance. Olara James said the developing team factored in the system’s sustainability right from the development phase. “Each college has a website on which we hosted the AMS. We want to ensure that colleges do not spend twice to maintain the Academic Management System and the Website. Therefore, we have embedded this system into the Website so that the colleges can maintain it with the website budget they already have. That way, sustainability is guaranteed.”
Additionally, Enabel and the Ministry of Education and Sports are supporting the continued use of the AMS in the colleges. NTC Staff continue to undergo training and benchmarking activities to improve their capacity using the Academic Management Software.