Xtage was started with the primary objective of using analytics and data science to benefit millions. Most of us know how analytics and big data are driving profits in banking, telecom, oil & gas and other sectors. We are yet to observe a significant impact of analytics in the humanitarian sector.

Here we present a case where we used our expertise in data management, automation and analytics to impact about 12 million lives.

Data and analytics for a social cause

The Government understands that even after allocating a substantial budget to public education, improvement in the quality of government schools hasn’t been much. In almost all cases, parents prefer to send their children to a private school rather than a government funded school. The Government wanted help to develop a school improvement plan across the state. A UK based charity was chosen as the partner and Xtage was chosen as the tech and analytics enabler. The idea was to develop a web and mobile based School Quality Assessment (SQA) tool to be used for 120,000 schools in the state of Madhya Pradesh (the 2nd largest state in India by area).

The first step was to have a 3rd party assessment and find out the priority action areas for each school, and at all administrative levels – right from blocks to state level. The primary objective of the SQA programme is school self-improvement i.e. providing an actionable framework for school quality improvement and enabling them to be “Right to Education” compliant. Second and equally important is a systemic improvement i.e. providing data and enable benchmarking & identification of key challenges; also giving local administrators practical tools to support schools more effectively.

The NGOs Vision 2020 focuses on two pillars:

  1. Run a network of high-performing, non-selective schools through public-private partnerships
  2. Improve the quality of public and private schools through rigorous assessments that support school leaders and administrators

The solution was broken into 4 phases – School assessment, School report generation, Create action plan, and Follow up.

School Assessment

The indicators of school quality were carefully chosen after a lot of analysis and from the NGO’s prior experience on similar projects. The indicators fell under the following categories –

  • Quality of Enablers
  • Quality of Processes
  • Quality of Outcomes

A number of survey forms (also called tools in non profit parlance) were designed, each having questions related to one of the indicators and scoring done on a 4 point scale. Through a series of intermediate calculations, and after applying advanced analytics, the overall score of the school was calculated. Xtage has created a mobile app so that the field surveyors are able to save time on data collection and we have good data automatically available in a usable form. The solution looks at all aspects of school life involving the headmaster, teachers, student, parents, and the student management committee (SMC). This has helped the team save enormous amounts of time that was earlier being spent on manual filling up of paper forms, sending them to the head office, collation and then converting them into electronic form that is in an usable state for policy making and extracting insights. The prebuilt validation rules has also minimized the volume of human errors in form filling, collation, and reporting.

The following diagram explains the program structure.

School Quality Assurance Program Structure

School report generation

Report gets generated for each school, which includes performance against each indicator. Depending on how much the school scores on each indicator, one or more recommendations are suggested – e.g. “Headmaster to explore possibilities to improve use of school facilities and resources with external support.” The assessor picks up one or more from a pool of suggested recommendations that are mapped with each indicator and the score for that indicator.

This process is a lot quicker than writing individual recommendations for every school.

Create school action plan 

An action plan has to be created based on the recommendations from the previous step. The report includes specific actions to be taken by the school, when the action is taken, who is responsible for taking the action and who will check that the action has been taken. This set of activities is a collective responsibility of the assessor and the school head master. Filling up key information fields is mandatory ensuring that the information is complete.

Follow up

Periodic following up on the progress of the school action plan and revision of progress and deadlines, if necessary. Having all this data, in an electronic form, ensures tracking is done properly and tasks like “Get list of all schools in Indore district where action plan completion is overdue” now can be done in seconds.

Broadly, the MPSQA analytical tool that Xtage created, achieved the following –

Real Time Data Analytics

  • Validated data entry
  • Robust assessment of data and reports
  • Scoring engine to generate school scores based on judgments
  • Automated report and dashboards for all levels

System Level Monitoring

  • Dashboard for multiple admin levels to monitor program performance at each level
  • Integrated data collection from other state level education programs

Internal communication has improved a lot after the solution was implemented. Teams are not required to send emails/make phone calls for every single issue or questions. Xtage has created real-time dashboards and reports that provide information at respective reporting levels. State level personnel are no longer losing sleep over not knowing the progress of the program before important stakeholder meetings.

The SQA project is part of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s vision 2018. It aims to improve the quality of 1,20,000 Government schools over a five year period (started late last year). Each class on an average has 20 students and 5 classes in a school making the total number of students impacted a staggering 12 million!

Got any questions? Please write in the comments section!

How to impact lives of 12 million children through data and tech enabled analytics

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