Evolving DISE: Strengthening of EMIS in India
For successful implementation of any educational programme, effective monitoring, coupled with efficient information system, is essential. While monitoring framework under SSA is developed separately, concerted efforts have been made towards strengthening of Educational Management Information System (EMIS) in India.
Indian education system is one of the largest education systems in the World; it caters to the needs of more than 1,028 million people. Keeping in view its size, the information system has the following limitations: (i) multiple data collection agencies; (ii) multiple directorates involved in data collection and lack of coordination among them; (iii) lack of understanding of the concept and definitions of educational statistics; (iv) lack of adequate staff at different levels; (v) lack of qualified and trained staff, specially at the lower levels; (vi) problems in distribution and collection of data-capture formats; (vii) lack of district-specific time series data; (viii) time-lag in data; (ix) reliability of education data; (x) data gaps; (xi) lack of equipments (computers) at lower levels; (xii) creation of new districts and changes in boundaries of the existing districts; (xiii) poor dissemination and utilization of data; and (xiv) lack of accountability at all levels.
Notwithstanding the above limitations, the school statistics form the basis of planning, monitoring and evaluation of various aspects of education, in general, and primary and elementary education, in particular.
At the time of initiating District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) in 1994, it was felt that a sound information system is essential for successful monitoring and implementation of the programme. It was expressed that DPEP, with a focus on decentralized planning, required up-to-date and reliable school level information soon after it was collected. The MHRD in 1994, as a part of the DPEP national endeavour, decided to design and develop a school based computerized information system, the main responsibility for which was entrusted to National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), New Delhi.
In this background, a pilot project for revitalization of educational statistics in India was initiated at NIEPA during 1995 with financial assistance from UNICEF. The project was to examine issues related to identification of data needs, processes and procedures for data collection, developing a framework for data flows and computerization, and facilitating the use of educational indicators in planning, management, monitoring and evaluation.
In tune with the spirit of the DPEP, district was selected as a nodal point for collection, computerization, analysis and use of school level data.
The first version (dbase) of the software, named as ‘District Information System for Education’ (DISE) was released by NIEPA during the middle of 1995. The district level professionals were assisted and trained in the establishment of EMIS units. The first major review of the DISE software was undertaken during 1997- 98 (PowerBuilder/SQL Anywhere). The software was later redesigned in 2001 in the light of requirements of the SSA (PowerBuilder/Oracle). Not only the coverage of DISE was extended to non-DPEP states but it was also extended from primary to the entire elementary level of education. DISE is under revision and the revised version will have the following additional variables:
- Schools by Type of Boundary Wall,
- Schools by Source of Drinking Water
- Furniture for Teachers and Students and Availability of Kitchen Shed in the School
- Enrolment by Minority
- Distribution of Children by Multiple Disabilities
- Examination Results of SC and ST Students etc.
- Efforts are being made to develop DISE as a complete user friendly menu-driven software. Some of the features that are being incorporated in the modified software are:
- Complete flexibility will be provided to users to add ‘n’ number of state and district-specific supplementary variables in the Data-Capture Format and generate reports at all desired levels;
- To improve the consistency of data, efforts are being made to highlight schools that reported inconsistent data;
- Export data to popular formats such as Excel, Text etc. will be made available;
- Users will be able to make data entry at Block level and then merge the data into single district level database by using the new improved DISE2001 Export Utility etc.
The main features of DISE 2001 are briefly presented below:
- The system covers eight years of schooling in all primary, upper primary and primary/upper primary sections of the secondary and higher secondary schools.
- The concept and definitions of educational variables involved therein have been standardized at the national level and are uniformally followed by all districts and states.
- Manual aggregation of data at different levels is completely replaced by computerized data entry and report generation system.
- It provides time-series data at school, village, cluster, block and district levels.
- The system defines core data on school location, management, rural urban, enrolment, buildings, equipment, teachers, incentives, medium of instruction, children with disabilities, examination results and student flows.
- Detailed data on individual teachers, para-teachers and community teachers and their profile, including data on in-service training received, is collected and made available.
- It eliminates the chances of data manipulation at various levels. The school remains responsible for correctness of the data supplied. States need to ensure correctness of the data supplied on five per cent sample basis.
- The states/districts have flexibility of adding supplementary variables depending upon their specific requirements on year-to-year basis. No additional software for computerization and analysis of state/district specific data is required.
- The states/districts can develop their own large database using ‘designer’ module and integrate a variety of school/cluster/block level data with it. The software handles multiple databases at various levels and provides tools of data analysis and presentation.
- A large number of standardized reports on school related variables and performance indicators aggregated at the cluster, block and district levels, are generated by the software.
- DISE ensures two-way flow of information. School summary report for each school is generated for sharing with the school and members of Village Education Committee.
- It provides an easy-to-use dynamic graphics facility to enhance the presentation of various types of graphs and data.
- DISE presents multi-user and modular system of software design for better management and security of databases.
- It responds to pre-defined queries on standard aspects, like school list, list of villages without primary and upper primary schools, single-teacher schools, schools without buildings, schools with high PTR, etc.
- It helps user defined dynamic query on hundreds of variables.
- It provides facilities for basic statistical analysis, including generation of new variables and their analysis.
- The reports can be shared across a large number of users without full software installation.
- Data can be exported to many other formats for statistical and other analyses by users etc.
- Through the concerted efforts, MIS Unit is now operational both at the district and state levels and is equipped with necessary hardware and software.
- The DISE software is now operational in 581 districts in 29 States & UTs of the country and is providing vital information for policy formulation and preparation of district elementary education plans.
- DISE has completely eliminated time-lag in educational statistics. At the national level, time-lag in educational data is reduced to less than one year from the earlier 7-8 years. Gap between collection and dissemination of data stands reduced dramatically. Time-lag within the state is reduced to few months.
- DISE has also eliminated data gaps as comprehensive information is now available on all aspects of universal elementary education across the country.
- It is for the first time that a time-series data is made available at the school level. The trend analysis of DISE data helps in identifying major block and district specific issues for being used in developing perspective and annual plans.
- For the first time, a District Report Card on elementary education is being released annually as part of DISE dissemination activities, which contains time-series and cross-sectional data on more than four hundred variables at the district level. State Report Cards have also been developed and are being disseminated for the last four years. The Analytical Report containing detailed analysis of DISE data is also being published annually. Efforts will be made to develop Country Report Card once all the States & UTs get covered under DISE.
- Official website of DISE (http://dpepmis.org) has been developed and is being updated frequently. District Report Cards and raw data in case of each of the district covered under DISE are uploaded. Data-Capture Formats, software patches etc. are also made available to users. Analytical Reports are also made available on the Internet. Efforts are being made to make available School Report Cards in case of all one million plus schools through the internet.
- As an online help to users, DISE group of users is formed on the Internet, which is very active. Users post problems of common interest to group for their solutions.
- UNICEF has decided to support studies based on the DISE data. At the international level, to create awareness about DISE and type of data it generates, presentations were recently made at the Oxford and Cambridge Universities (UK). Through concerted efforts, it is hoped that demand for DISE data will be generated in years that follow.