According to Mr Joseph Eilor, the assistant commissioner for education planning, the new technology is going to be piloted in 1,800 primary and secondary schools both spread across 60 districts, starting Monday when the new term opens.
He said 5,400 teachers and 240 district education officers, chief administrative officers, inspector of schools and town clerks have been trained on how to use the new technology.
“The people we have trained must exhibit a high level of integrity by giving us the correct data because technology alone will not solve the problem of ghosts or absenteeism, or the whole initiative will be useless,” he said.
Speaking to journalists in Kampala yesterday, Mr Eilor, who also doubles as the coordinator of the programme, said the District Education Management Information System (Demis) programme is expected to instantly link critical school data, such as teacher and student attendance, directly from schools into the National Education Management Information System at the Ministry of Education headquarters.
“With this technology it will be easier to know what is going on in schools, districts and this will provide us with relevant and functional information for planning, management and evaluation of the sector at the school, district and national levels,” he added.
A 2009 report by a Dutch agency, SNV, ranked teacher absenteeism in Uganda the highest in the world at 35 per cent, with teachers guaranteed to miss at least two days of work each week.
Mr Eilor said schools under the pilot programme connected to the power grid will use computers to enter data while those without power will use smart phones and short message service (SMS).
“USAID, who are sponsoring this initiative, took the responsibility of procuring those items and we are optimistic that they will be available for use in all the pilot schools by Monday next week,” he said
The project is funded by USAID to a tune of $2.9 million (about Shs7.8 billion).
If the new technology works out, it will come as a relief to the ministry, which has taken a beating for doing little about teacher and pupil absenteeism in the government aided schools.