NIPO: Reducing School Absenteeism by Capturing & Tracking Data
Digitalizing information to inform solutions
Education not only affects economic opportunities but is also associated with better health outcomes, particularly among girls and young women. Studies have shown a direct relationship between a girl’s level education and her risk of contracting HIV. Uneducated girls are twice as likely to contract HIV compared to girls who have attended school.1 In Tanzania, school attendance is typically tracked on paper, if at all. Although inexpensive, manual data collection proves difficult to translate into meaningful insights. However, by digitizing data collection, trends in school attendance can begin to be tracked in real-time. This provides decision-makers with meaningful data on the factors that contribute to absenteeism and how attendance relates to challenges such as teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
Photo Credit: Isihaka photograph
Schools in Tanzania currently lack the means to aggregate, visualize, and share attendance and truancy data. The ability to transfer and collect data is needed to increase school attendance, reduce school dropout rates, and ultimately lower the risk to adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) of contracting HIV/AIDS.
NIPO, whose name originates from the common response of students during roll call, enables crucial data collection and transfer. With the collaborative support of a class monitor, school administration, and a teacher, NIPO collects daily school attendance. The NIPO software facilitates school attendance tracking by providing automated data visualization and infographics to stakeholders on absenteeism trends. It also improves parental involvement and accountability by instantaneously alerting parents via SMS of student truancy.
NIPO automates day-to-day activities in schools, with a primary focus on daily attendance recording. The system utilizes client-server architecture consisting of two major interfaces: a mobile application for recording attendance and a desktop application for data visualization and higher functionalities. A teacher is primarily responsible for tracking attendance and can feed other data into the system, including grades and general reports on students’ behavior. Four schools have agreed to use NIPO. Mbezi Beach High School and Hananasif have already installed the system and begun operating at full capacity. During preliminary research, organizations like UNESCO and the National Bureau of Statistics showed interest in using NIPO. However, data collected must first be more representative by scaling up to other districts.
Outcomes and Impact
The aim of NIPO is to reduce school dropout rates among AGYW in the districts in which it operates by increasing school performance and by reducing rates of absenteeism. Reducing absenteeism, particularly among girls, decreases the risks of teenage pregnancy and HIV infection.
The instant messaging feature that alerts parents to truancy will create an accountability system for absent students and reinforce parental involvement in students’ success. In addition, the data that NIPO collects will help inform the decision-making of other stakeholders in the education sector. As of March 2019, the Ministry of Education has also supported NIPO in obtaining attendance data in the pilot schools.
Currently, the pilot program, consists of 4 schools and over 2600 students, and an additional 21 schools have also expressed interest in using the NIPO system in the future. NIPO is now working towards achieving its goal of offline functionality prior to expanding the program.
1. “Women and HIV — A spotlight on adolescent girls and young women”, UNAIDS, 2019
MariaDorin J. Shayo and her all-women team of five are the brain power behind NIPO. The team has received a $25,000 grant and mentoring from the Data for Local Impact Innovation Challenge (DLIIC) to drive their project. Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) is sustaining the good work performed by DLI project to further engage, support, and connect Tanzanian innovators, developers, and solution providers to each other and to opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. To learn more, visit https://dlab.or.tz/.