Minister of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) Dr William Susuwele Banda says Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play a vital role in the success of important projects like the Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project (MESIP).
He made the remarks on Wednesday after he launched the MESIP website and the Civil Works Monitoring and Reporting system at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
Susuwele said the website will help in documentation purposes of the project, which is being implemented with a USD 44.9 Million funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) under supervision of the World Bank, to improve the equity and quality of primary education service delivery in the country.
Also he said it will help the project which is being implemented by MoEST in reaching out to more people in a go, including developmental partners.
“We need to document lessons and share them with relevant stakeholders including the general public for their sustainability and roll out to other schools.
“In addition, many development partners are also eager to learn from MESIP so that they can make informed decisions in terms of how they can help Malawi invest in the education of its citizens with a high level of efficiency,” said Susuwele.
The website is expected to carry information like what MESIP is all about, what it does, its interest areas, updates and activities and what the project can offer, and allow for social interactions between different stakeholders.
It is also expected to have a link to YouTube videos showcasing MESIP activities throughout the country. All these aim at bringing the project closer to the people by enhancing instant access to information about the project.
Susuwele on the other hand said the Civil Works Monitoring and Reporting System, which is a Smartphone-based system, will help in keeping close track of MESIP civil works especially those falling under MESIP Component 2.
The MESIP Component 2 is targeting the construction of 500 new classrooms, 300 latrine blocks, focusing mainly on girl’s sanitation needs and 150 water points in 8 most disadvantaged districts of Kasungu, Dedza, Lilongwe Rural West, Mzimba South, Thyolo, Mangochi, Machinga, and Chikwawa.
“The system will provide an effective mechanism that actively engages with contractors, service providers and public officials, thus; enabling them to rapidly respond to issues affecting project development and performance,” said Susuwele.
This reporting tool consists of two applications; a Mobile-based applications used by Clerk of Works to submit report data on civil work at school level and a Web-based Application for ministry officials and stakeholders to monitor and analyse the civil works at school level.
Dr Susuwele said the development of the two technologies hinges on the enabling policy environment that government has created through the existence of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy.
“It is therefore pleasing to note that as a Ministry, we are not lagging behind in the implementation of the ICT policy.
“A full-fledged ICT Department is in place to support departments and sections in the Ministry to effectively employ Information Technology in the delivery of their services,” he said.
He subsequently commended the ICT team in the Department of E-Government under the Ministry of Information and communication Technologies for what he described as a job well done in terms of helping the development of the MESIP website.
In his remarks, secretary for MoEST Justin Saidi said he was delighted that the website is no longer a dream.
He said this is part of a Communication Strategy developed by MESIP to help raise visibility of the project.
“The implementation of the strategy will involve a number of communication channels which include radio, television, newspapers, posters, leaflets and website, among others.
“On the other hand, the monitoring system will provide an effective mechanism that actively engages with contractors, service providers, and public officials enabling them to rapidly respond to issues affecting project performance,” said Saidi.
MESIP has four other components namely Component 1 which focuses on performance-based school improvement grants for improving promotion and retention, component 3 which focuses on improving learning outcomes, accountability, and cost effectiveness at school level.
Component 4 focuses on variable part/disbursement linked indicators and the fifth component focuses on project management, and sector program support and coordination.
MESIP also has an extension known as MESIP Extended after the Norwegian government pumped into the project an extra USD 5 million