An upgraded version of the Ministry’s Jamaica School Administrative System (JSAS 7.0), that will serve to further improve the education system, was presented to Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, on July 29, at the Ministry.
A collaborative effort between the Ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), JSAS is specifically designed for Jamaican schools and is used to track students’ attendance and performance.
Additionally, JSAS allows for accurate, reliable record- keeping and reporting and stores data at the school, class and student level. It provides fast and easy retrieval of student information and generates transcripts.
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness (centre), emphasises a point at his office in Kingston, on July 29, when he was presented with a copy of an upgraded version of the Ministry’s Jamaica School Administrative System (JSAS 7.0). Others (from left) are: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Audrey Sewell and Technical Representative for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Claire Spence.
In welcoming the product, Minister Holness described it as a powerful tool, noting that the utilisation of this software was the first step in bringing business practice to the administration of education. “It is about making the education system more efficient,” he argued.
The Minister said that in utilising this technology to record and report on the activities in the education system, the Ministry would move towards a system of accountability.
“In a system of accountability, which we have to put in our education system, because we spend a significant amount of the national budget on education, we can’t just say we expect things to go well,” he said.
Mr. Holness further pointed out that with the software aggregating data instantaneously, administrative procedures such as evaluations, which are usually time-consuming, would be done quickly, minimising the need for utilising valuable resources.
He noted that this computer-based administrative management tool would be useful in analysing data across schools, such as the performance of school administrators, and how well students performed on a particular test.
Noting the Ministry’s intention to work with teachers through training, encouragement and motivation, he informed that the upgraded software would be deployed to all schools.
The Minister said that the success of the technology would depend on the culture of the receiving schools, and he encouraged schools to embrace this tool that would only serve to enhance the efficiency of school administration.
Communication Specialist at the Ministry, Conrad Hamilton, informed that for schools that do not now have internet access, a project is currently underway to provide broad band internet access for all schools.
“In addition to that, we are currently designing a number of what we call the executive dashboard features that will allow for a (quick glance). One is quickly able to look at a single screen and get a feel for everything that is happening in a particular region or across the nation as a whole, just by looking at one screen,” he said.
Technical Representative for USAID, Claire Spence, said the USAID is committed to working with the Ministry to improve the quality of education through its various collaborative projects.
First introduced in 1999, JSAS was being used under two USAID/MOE projects – the New Horizons for Primary schools Project and the Expanding Horizons Project. A total of 72 schools and 12 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that have been associated with both projects, continue to use JSAS.
She informed that based on the feedback from the JSAS pilot project undertaken in 10 schools and one NGO last year, the software has allowed for more effective management of data.
Ms. Spence said that this upgraded version of the software was ready for implementation in at least 250 schools, and that JSAS would continue to expand “and experiences from the implementation to these schools will inform the expansion of JSAS to all Jamaica’s primary schools.”