14.06.2017 - UNESCO Office in Amman

Supporting Double-Shift Schools Using OpenEMIS

Shayma Zaidan, Maysoun Al-Omari and Alaa Al-Zioud from Iskan Al-Hasemeyyeh Primary School, Zarka. ©UNESCO

Currently across the kingdom, final exams are underway. While some people may think that teachers take a break during exams, in reality they are hard at work grading exams and ensuring that student marks are accurately recorded in the “Open Education Management Information System (EMIS)”.

OpenEMIS is a UNESCO initiative that emerged from the need for evidence-based policy and planning in education systems due to growing complexity. With the generous support of the European Union and at the request of the Government of Jordan, UNESCO set out nearly three years ago to provide technical expertise during the restructuring of the country’s EMIS. With nearly 1.9 Million students registered in basic and secondary education, 120,000 teachers and a substantial influx of refugees seeking continuing education opportunities in Jordan, ensuring accurate education data is readily available is more important than ever.

Maysoun Al-Omari is the principal of the second-shift at Iskan Al-Hasemeyyeh Primary School in Zarka. This school is divided into two shifts – one that begins early in the morning, with a second starting around lunchtime – due to overcrowding resulting from a sharp increase in Syrian refugee students in Zarka and other areas. At Maysoun’s school, the afternoon shift she oversees caters entirely to refugee students; 239 of these are Syrian and 7 are Iraqi.

The OpenEMIS system has made it possible to retrieve aggregate school level data on students, teachers, grades, subjects, and teaching periods for all MOE operated schools and institutions throughout Jordan. This represents a huge achievement. “Anything that is new is hard, but we learn to adapt over time”, says Maysoun. Iskan Al-Hasemeyyeh Primary School only transitioned to a double-shift school in 2013. Maysoun reveals that the multiple layers of information easily sourced through OpenEMIS have made this huge adjustment easier. Now, when organizations approach the school wanting to help Syrian refugees, promptly pulling up accurate data on the students most in need is easy. For Jordanian families, information sourced from OpenEMIS works as the key reference point and a trusted source of information for the disbursement of the Ministry of Finance’s support payments.

Alaa Al-Zioud and Shayma Zaidan are passionate ‘Field Directorate EMIS Officers’. Both are former teachers; they are upbeat and smile easily. They left their teaching jobs to focus on OpenEMIS entirely and have a lot to share about the system. “For the first time ever, we have jobs that we like!” says Alaa. She has worked hard to perfect her EMIS knowledge and is an administrator of the Facebook page that operates as a forum for OpenEMIS information sharing and troubleshooting throughout all the governorates in Jordan. While this takes extra effort, “I find it rewarding to develop the capacity of other people working to advance their OpenEMIS knowledge”, says Alaa.

Those engaged in OpenEMIS work possess a strong commitment to ensuring data is accurate and learning the intricate nuances of the system. “I see the value of working through the complications and ultimately love the design of the system,” say Alaa and Shayma. Problems with connectivity are overcome by occasionally taking work home, using personal internet to ensure data is uploaded to the system properly. This widespread dedication is encouraging and we are collectively inspired by the devotion shown by these women and others striving to enhance OpenEMIS across Jordan.




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