Laikipia Governor Launches aWhere Online Data Management System
February 20th, 2015 Laikipia County achieved a key milestone in Kenya and set pace for other counties to emulate as the County Governor, Hon. Joshua Irungu launched an online data management system for Laikipia County Education and home grown school feeding programme at Sportsman Arms Hotel in Nanyuki.
This was a culmination of an initiative started by SNV- Netherlands Development Organization in partnership with Laikipia County Government, aWhere and Ministry of Education in June 2014 and covering 278 public primary schools and ECD. The technical expertise in design of the platform was provided by aWhere. The online data platform was initiated to address the challenges of lack of data for effective planning and decision making in education and home grown school feeding programme.
Speaking while launching the platform, Laikipia County Governor, Hon Joshua Irungu, lauded the efforts made by the partners in coming up with the platform. He urged various County departments to utilize the platform as it was a good management tool that will be useful for county planning.
The launch was attended by besides the key partners and the governor, the County Minister for Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Development, Chief Officer Education, Director ICT, Gender, Youth, Sports and ICT and Chief Officer Health and Sanitation, sub-county administrators, Ministry of Agriculture, farmer organizations, Ministry of Education and NGOs.
“We want to model our county so that others can learn from what we are doing. Most of the time people are usually resistant to new technologies. I will start using this platform immediately and influence my team to do so. At a click of a button I will now be able to get information about schools in this county without even going there,” said Hon Irungu.
He committed himself to ensuring that the platform succeeded. He said that as a county they had made a decision to heavily invest in schools and this platform would be able to provide data to guide in the county investment in education and home grown school feeding.
“I will be happy to use the information from the system to ensure public primary schools in the county receive title deeds. Data from the platform will also help us to establish schools which are understaffed and those that require our attention,” said Hon Irungu. He also said that the platform should in future include secondary schools.
The launch covered the demonstration of the platform as well as reporting on the status of the schools and home grown school feeding programme in areas such as background information of the school, school background and whether they have land titles, school infrastructure; enrollment; number of teachers; students health; school feeding data such as the amount of food bought in 2014 and the main suppliers in this market and the total disbursement by the government; food procurement modalities and participation of parents among others.
The data collected revealed among others that Laikipia is almost achieving gender parity in access. Most of the schools did not have land title deeds and hence are vulnerable to land grabbing; though there are many smallholder farmers, they had limited access to school feeding market as it was heavily dominated by traders; inadequate and erratic funding for home grown school feeding programme. For instance in 2014 schools fed for 120 days instead of the planned 197 as they did not receive any funds in third term.
In addressing some of the issues, the governor committed that his government would make sure schools get title deeds and that funds for school feeding programme are set aside to supplement financing from national government.
Mr. Ndiritu Chiuri, Chief Officer, Gender, Youth, Sports and ICT added that the County government is the host for the platform and that this is a public platform. He invited the communities and partners to visit the platform regularly. He said the platform would be updated on termly basis in February, June and September.
“The County government will have a platform that will provide data for planning and allocation of resources and data to guide development partners. Our education data is now officially accessibility to the public at no cost,” said Mr. Chiuri.
He noted that there will now be improved reliability and accessibility of school data including Grown School Feeding data and the versatility of the platform makes it easy to analyze data depending on what one needs.
On her part, Hon Jane Putunoi, Laikipia County Minister for Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Development noted that Laikipia County is the first to implement such a platform. She said that the data will help various County ministries to synergize their operations. ”Laikipia county is proud to be the pace setter in developing an online management system in the county. By click of a button one is now able to access a lot of information which will help us as a county when planning,” said Hon Putunoi.
Similarly, Leah Njeri, SNV Senior Governance Advisor, Procurement Governance in HGSF noted that the platform is one of the solutions of empowering communities. She said that SNV decided to pilot the online data system in order to improve data collection, storage and retrieval for effective evidence based planning, monitoring and evaluation of HGSM programme.
However the interest from the stakeholders led to the expansion of the original idea from HGSF to other education data. Leah said that lots of effort has been put by SNV and partners in strengthening the capacity of the smallholder farmers to supply food in this market. She requested the county government to intervene and link this to their household economic empowerment so that farmers could have increased income from selling food from the market. Collaborative approach between county government and development partners would eliminate the challenges that limit farmers from supplying food in the school market.
Leah mentioned that partners in this activity had exhibited tremendous team spirit. Among others, she thanked MOE head quarter, Directorate of Planning and in particular the Chief Economist and his deputy for guidance and support, the County Director of Education and County Quality Assurance and Standard office for support and mobilisation of District Education officers and teachers.
Teacher also played an instrumental role in collecting data while school feeding officers coordinated the data collection and verification. Two school feeding officers, Patrick and Hassan worked tirelessly to ensure data was keyed in and that they could manage the system. The director of ICT who is the administrator of the system has been useful in coordinating his team and understanding the system so that he could be able to manage it.