A fascinating report on the use of ICT to battle one of the huge issues facing education in the developing world: teacher attendance. I have written on this topic before. The use of ICT is limited in many areas, specifically in rural areas, by inconsistent power supplies, insecurity, a lack of training, and a lack of incentivization to actually use donated supplies. However, using simple mobile phones to track teacher attendance could be a powerful tool for bottom-up accountability, and in giving students the voice that they lack in educational administration. However, the familiar blockages remain: institutional oversight and institutional assimilation of these practices. The Guardian notes, "The messages are then forwarded to the district education officer and district inspector of schools, who will investigate." This raises a big red flag and the following questions: -
What are the possible ramifications that teachers face for this reported truancy?
What are the incentives for the district education officer to act on this information? Won't this information make them look worse, and, if so, this will not result in any meaningful change.
What are the information flows from this program to the national level? Linkages?
We need to address the root causes of this absenteeism, which is an enormous barrier facing education. Weak administrative oversight, weak community linkages, overloaded curricula, lack of practical training, extremely difficult classroom environments, and a lack of incentive-based performance pay. Until these root causes of absenteeism are addressed, IT will continue to be only a band-aid for the woes facing the world's classrooms.