Ushering a new era of data management in early childhood education sector

Ushering a new era of data management in early childhood education sector
Minister Simeon addressing the gathering (Photo: Jude Morel)

Minister Simeon addressing the gathering (Photo: Jude Morel)

The Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD) and the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development on Friday held a joint national workshop on data management in Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) for school leaders.

The workshop, held at the STC conference room, forms part of the implementation of the data management project featured in the national action plan for ECCE 2019-2020, being carried out by the education sector with technical assistance and support from IECD.

The event is structured around two axes: 1) to build capacity of and sensitise school leaders, especially in early childhood education, on data management, its importance among other key aspects of the project, and 2) to present preliminary findings of the situational analysis that was carried out last year from six pilot schools.

The six primary schools are Anse Aux Pins, Bel Eau, Beau Vallon, Grand Anse Praslin, Anse Boileau and Takamaka. Effective data-driven decision-making depends on what data are collected, how data are collected, how data are stored, and how data are analysed, used and transmitted; for this reason, this project addresses all steps of this process. The situational analysis will provide some indication of the status of data management in early childhood stage in primary schools and the challenges faced in collecting and using data.

The Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Jeanne Simeon, along with high officials from the ministry, participated in that meeting.

In her opening speech, the minister talked thoroughly on the importance of such a project.

“In our national context, specifically in the domain of early childhood development, it has been recognised that there are currently many gaps in the information available and inconsistencies in the collection and reporting of data across different sectors. The fact was underlined in the Seychelles Framework for ECCE introduced in 2011, following an audit of information available on various aspects of early childhood development. But today, we are gathered here to witness the successful completion of the first phase of the project’s replication in the education sector, in particular, in the early childhood key stage,” noted the minister.

Minister Simeon also talked about the implementation of the project which comprises five interdependent and distinct phases.

“These phases seek to encourage the education sector and its respective educational institutions, to take the lead and systematically build and strengthen the management of its information system, so that data on early childhood education and development can be readily available and appropriately shared at local, regional and international levels.”

The phases comprise:

  • An audit to assess data collection practices and procedures, storage and analysis of data, and its general management for review in six pilot schools.
  • The selection of indicators in line with international norms, and development of the relevant framework/documents to collect information and statistical data systematically.
  • Capacity building of relevant school personnel on selected indicators in early childhood education, information gathering processes and practices.
  • Trialing and testing data gathering tools and procedures for collection of data based on agreed indicators.
  • Full institutionalisation in all schools, and for effective implementation, quality control and monitoring, and reporting purposes.

The project’s consultant and local expert in assessment and statistics, Egbert Benstrong, facilitated the workshop where he presented the findings of the situational analysis, which he led with a team from IECD in the six pilot schools.

It is worth noting that the data management project in ECCE is a longitudinal initiative with technical support of World Bank and Unesco-IBE. It will be replicated in all ECCE sectors as per the IECD’s overall plan for ECCE in government. The first sector which has successfully implemented this project from 2016-2018 is the Ministry of Health. It is regarded as a best practice pillar in ECCE and Seychelles presented its experience implementing this project at the 2nd International Biennial Conference in ECCE in February 2019, under the banner ‘Big Data for Small Children’. The project was institutionalised in 2019 and is currently being implemented in the various sections and units in the department of health. IECD commenced work with the second sector which is Education in 2019 and the subsequent targeted sector will be the Social Affairs sector.

The benefits of this initiative are numerous, which includes providing readily available information for policy decisions, actions and international reporting. Additionally, it will benefit directly the leaders and early childhood educators, and other stakeholders through training and continuous professional development opportunities. It will help build on existing achievements, strengthen early childhood development policies, programmes and services and increase the types of data and information gathered and analysed within the education sector based on international best practices. Through this project, it is hoped that inter-sectoral coordination and collaboration will also be strengthened.

The chairperson of IECD, Captain David Savy; chief executive of the National Bureau of Statistics, Laura Ah-Time; chief executive of IECD, Shirley Choppy; among other relevant professionals in ECCE participated in the meeting.

Vidya Gappy – Nation.sc

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