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Schools gear up for e-technology

19 November 2001 Media Statement

Schools gear up for e-technology

New Zealand Schools are in a good position to move to a greater level of e-technology.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today released the result of a Ministry of Education study of computer equipment in schools and their capability for using it to streamline their administration responsibilities.

“Technology is now an essential tool which can take over a lot of that administration work that can be tedious, but is also essential,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The Ministry study showed that 98% of secondary schools have more than one computer dedicated to administration. This compared with 78% of composite schools and 58% of primary schools. The majority of those computers had access to the Internet.

“Schools access the Internet in a variety of ways. About half of the primary schools have a dial-up system using a dedicated separate phone line. Secondary schools tend to have more efficient forms of Internet access. Just under half use high-speed dedicated data connection, while one in five use satellite connections.

“Many schools have taken their own initiative in moving to e-technology communications and they are already seeing the benefits.

“The internet is going to become the dominant means of reporting back to the Ministry of Education. That will help schools reduce their administration time as well as providing better report to government.”

Trevor Mallard said changes made in the education sector complemented the Government’s e-government programme which aims to have the internet as the dominant means of enabling ready access to government information, services and processes by 2004.

It also supports the integrated Management Information and Resourcing (MIR) system development already underway by the Ministry. The MIR development takes advantage of new computer and communications technologies. It will minimise compliance requirements on boards; and maximise the ability of schools to transfer information electronically to the Ministry and to other schools.

The report also supports the findings of the ICT Report released by the Learning Trust of New Zealand in October this year.

Most schools are now accessible by email, although communication difficulties often arise when they change their email addresses. Some schools, particularly primary, still have some way to go in communicating electronically. In part, this is due to how schools access the Internet and the subsequent bandwidth this enables them to have. It may also be due to general bandwidth constraints in some areas of New Zealand.

“I believe this represents a challenge to telecommunications companies to extend their services,” Trevor Mallard said.

2,619 schools responded to the Ministry’s census.

The census can be found on - http://www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/computercensus

Attached: MIR Overview

ENDS

Management Information and Resourcing System

MIR Overview

- The Management Information and Resourcing (MIR) project is the name for a project that co-ordinates two components of related work, individually known as:

- Resourcing Systems Renewal

- Schools Monitoring

In addition information obtained from the Schools Planning and Reporting system will link into MIR

- The MIR project will provide:

- An integrated resourcing system to improve funding delivery;

- Information to enable earlier identification of schools where support may be needed;

- Better quality information for planning and reporting by schools and the Ministry;

- Better information to enable the Government to review its policies.

- Compaq has been contracted to design and develop the first stage of the project.

Current system challenges

The systems related challenges facing the Ministry currently are twofold:

Outdated / non-integrated / resource intensive

- The sub-systems operated by the Ministry to support key schools’ resourcing transactions within the sector are “aged’;

- They are not in a form that will support on-line transactions.

- Many of the processes currently employed are largely manual and paper based.

- Many of these processes have been developed in isolation which has resulted in a lack of integration across systems and a consequential loss of data integrity and efficient data retrieval.

Benefits of Improved Monitoring

- An evaluation carried out in 1998 highlighted the advantages of improved monitoring by the Ministry of the schools sector, in particular that school support intervention measures would be more timely.

- The cost of intervention is very high, not only in terms of Ministry and sector resources but also the time, pressure and stress on principals and boards of trustees early interventions are less resource intensive.

Outcomes

MIR will be an integrated resourcing and monitoring system which:

- provides a central data collection and analysis system;

- takes advantage of new computer and communications technologies;

- minimises compliance requirements on boards;

- maximises the ability of schools to:

„« gain immediate access to own school data;

„« transfer information electronically to the Ministry and to other schools;

„« access information to support them in planning and decision making;

„« focus on their core business.

Information obtained from schools plans and reports will be fed into MIR

Staged Development

MIR will be implemented in 3 stages. The stages are:

- Stage One - Nine resourcing sub-systems (plus required interface developments) together with a monitoring system and a school reporting and planning system.

- Stage Two - Remaining resourcing systems

- Stage Three - Datawarehouse (currently in discussion stage)

Key Benefits and Achievements

Four main benefits and achievements are:

- Consistency: Electronic systems simplify and standardise transfer of information between schools and the Ministry.

- Immediacy: Schools have immediate access to their own information.

- Reduced compliance: Resource calculations will be streamlined.

- Quality of information will be improved.

Other benefits and achievements include:

- improvements in the technology capability of the sector to support on line transactions and information management;

- improved reporting tools;

- improved processes for the collection and dissemination of information within the sector;

- improved opportunities to effectively respond to change in information or resourcing needs within the sector;

- greater capacity to effectively identify (a) schools which are at risk of failure in a timely fashion as well (b) best practice schools;

Brief Description of individual projects

Resourcing Systems Renewal

- This is the computer database that drives resourcing (and resourcing information) for schools.

School Monitoring

- Collection of information not already held in a central, accessible location.

- Computerisation of data already collected and held by the Ministry on parent complaints. This gives the Ministry the opportunity to analyse the patterns and trends to see whether there is any policy response required.


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