Schools are struggling to register their students to the Education Management Information System (EMIS) portal.
According to an August 31, circular signed by Permanent Secretary Ketty Lamaro, the data obtained shall serve as the baseline information for learner verification and issuance of National Identification Numbers (NINs) by NIRA.
Under the new lower secondary curriculum, schools will use NINs to transmit learners’ school-based assessment scores to Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb).
Overall, the information captured will assist the government in proper planning in order to improve service delivery in the education sector. And the deadline to capture and upload all learners’ details was on Monday, September19.
Many believe the registration of the students/learners to the EMIS portal, and issuing them with NINs and Learner Identification Number (LIN) is a good move.
First, it will reduce the rampant changing of schools by students. When one is registered and needs to change schools, he/she will need authorisation from the current school, which will authorise transfer to another school, and their data move there.
Secondly, issuing all learners with Learner Identification Number (LIN), and NIN will ensure that they are easily verifiable. It will eliminate or at least reduce the issue of ghost students in schools.
In many schools, the number of students is often reportedly inflated in order to get bigger USE capitation grants, as the amount given to each school depends on the student population.
Also students’ LIN will ease submission of continuous assessment marks, under the new lower secondary curriculum. That means when a student transfers to another school, all their academic records move with them. It promotes academic progression, and gives power to parents/students to determine their academic future.
While schools are struggling to register all students to the EMIS portal (emis.go.ug), there are numerous challenges, which necessitate extension of the deadline. I will name some of them here.
First, poor design of the student EMIS registration form. In Term II, the ministry of Education released this form to be filled by parents, and the submission deadline was July 30.
In my opinion, the form was hurriedly released as it did not capture all the information required from each student. It only captures information about school (school/institution name, district, sub county, class enrolled, term), student basic information (first name, surname, date of birth, district of birth, sex, and nationality), and parent/guardian information (first name, surname, nationality, NIN, phone number of both father/mother or guardian).
It also required students to attach passport size photos to the hardcopy form. All this information was necessary, but the system required more.
For A-Level, the EMIS portal requires subject information (the three principal subjects, and one elective subsidiary subject), UCE Index Number, and UCE exam year.
For O-Level, the PLE Index Number and exam year are required. All these were not captured by the one page registration form. Thus, there was a mismatch between what was captured in the form, and what the online system wanted.
Second, two different methods are used to register. One is an online form, and allows uploading the student photo, and instantly validates the parent NIN online.
The other is downloading Microsoft Excel templates, entering required information offline, and then uploading to the portal. This option does not provide a provision for photos.
Thirdly, the system does not accept foreign NINs. We all know that we have many foreign students (including refugees) in our education system. Other challenges include disinterest in registering school human resources, infrastructure, finance, facilities, etc.
Considering that the current student EMIS registration is happening at all levels of education, it means that we are dealing with millions of students.
For this very important exercise, the ministry should consider extending the deadline until the end of Term III.
Lastly, the ministry of Education should continue sensitizing the population about the importance of EMIS registration, and provide technical support to schools/institutions. This will ensure that the information uploaded is accurate.
Founder of Triskelion Education and Skills Initiative and teacher at Lira Town College