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MIS Systems Thread, New MIS for South Africa in Technical; I admit I'm a little apprehensive... our woefully inadequate Department of Education has spent several billion rand on creating a ...
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    AntiThesis's Avatar
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    New MIS for South Africa

    I admit I'm a little apprehensive... our woefully inadequate Department of Education has spent several billion rand on creating a country specific MIS.

    Apparently it'll be awesome but since they can't seem to organise the most simple tasks on any given day I'm a little leery.

    The discs arrive tomorrow. Wish me luck

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    Nick_Parker's Avatar
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    I'm interested to see how it goes so please keep me posted

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    AntiThesis's Avatar
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    Ooh, another South African Nice to see! Will do Nick - at the very least it should be interesting.

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Hmm, Yeah i am also interested on what happens here

    Hope it all works out for you though

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    Oops_my_bad's Avatar
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    Whatever it is.. I'm sure it can't be as bad as anything inflicted upon schools in the UK (can it!?)

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    creese's Avatar
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    I'll be interested as well as an 'Honorary south African'

    I work with a few schools in The Free State and I'm planning a trip out early next year.

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    AntiThesis's Avatar
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    Well so far it's failing to wow me. Runs off an access database and is completely windows based, no web stuff.

    Hmm.

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    creese's Avatar
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    Is this intended for ALL schools?

    Only those with IT? (i.e. will they supply a PC)

    Who will support this in schools?

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    Grommit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oops_my_bad View Post
    Whatever it is.. I'm sure it can't be as bad as anything inflicted upon schools in the UK (can it!?)
    Trust me mate... we have it good here in the UK...... SIMS and the rest are brilliant compared to what South Africans have to suffer through..

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Having do some reading on the SA SAMS project and looking through number of goverment documents on it that are hidden away.

    Think can break this down to: -

    You don't have to have it if got something in place (but I suspect there is lot of political pressure to have it).
    The government identified at start of project few years ago there is a number of schools for example where electricity for example was a major issue. They would look at funding to deal with that (I am not sure if that has come through as can not see anything).

    As part of pilot and I assume extended into main roll out a number of 'experts' were employed to help schools and states get it installed but an issue found was some heads wouldn't allow them to install the software.

    So in terms of support it seems very erratic as to what support schools are getting.

    Russ

    Edit:

    Also it should link into two other projects the government learning tracking software (name escapes me) and state wide database system called I believe CMIS (no not that one)

    Russ

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    creese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by russdev View Post
    Having do some reading on the SA SAMS project and looking through number of goverment documents on it that hidden away.

    Think can break this down to: -

    You don't have to have it if got something in place (but I suspect there is lot of political pressure to have it).
    The government identified at start of project there is few years ago number of schools for example where electricity for example was a major issue and said they would look at funding to deal with that (I am not sure if that has come through or not can't see anything).

    As part of pilot and I assume extended into main roll out a number of 'experts' were employed to help schools and states get it installed but an issue found was some heads wouldn't allow them to install the software.

    So in terms of support it seems very erratic as to what support schools are getting.

    Russ
    Hmmm sounds about right.

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    AntiThesis's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info russ That's actually more than I've been told

    Popped the CD in, tried to follow but had no instructions Finally found them in the depths of the disc and installed.

    As before, Access DB, can be on local PC or server. Horrible looking, Win 95 style and seemingly written in VB from what I can see

    We'll trial it and see, perhaps it's really good.

    I know it's part of a larger plan to have total data availability for the whole country. So when you go into Grade 0, you're given an admin number that is yours for life. 20 years later if you become a teacher or something you are still on the system and people can see your whole record.

    No clue how they're going to achieve that with the program in its current form but I guess we'll see. As you say, it's not compulsory yet although they are going to be pushing it soon (or abandoning it) from what I have heard.

    We'll sally forth with it in earnest next week after Governing body elections this week.

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    AntiThesis's Avatar
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    Righty-oh.

    Quite a lot has actually happened with this whole shebang in the last few months. For those of you who are interested, read on

    SASAMS (which is the name of the MIS) has been relaunched and upgraded drastically. It's a far cry from the version I tested in June and the whole Organogram of the section that manages it has been revamped - they actually have people there who have brains and so on.

    First off, it's going to be compulsory. It's not at the moment but it is STRONGLY supported from within the Department of Education and legislation is pretty much on it's way to make this the standard software that any school can and will run.

    Bonuses of this:

    1. Rural schools without infrastructure will have to get infrastructure. This means Telkom has to stop being lazy and actually roll things out to all the areas they've been promising for the last 10 years.
    2. Schools will be forced to get adequate infrastructure - staff labs, PCs in classrooms etc. Otherwise the SAMS process will be really annoying.
    3. Oversight becomes much easier and everything becomes standard.

    The program itself hasn't changed terribly much as far as appearances go - it's still fugly and still not nearly intuitive enough for your average teacher to use (think of some of your users and you'll see) but with training it should be possible to get people up and running in it.

    It still runs on Access which is a concern but there are plans in the pipeline to move to SQL server or MySQL as there are even longer term plans to move to a web-based interface. Every week you have to "Compact and Repair" the database which promises to be fun.

    The good news is SASams does absolutely everything. And I mean that absolutely. It does everything from Student Enrollment to Reporting to Finances to Library and Timetabling. If it's a school function, SAMS does it. And for the most part, does it well. Theoretically once everyone is actually using this system I'll be able to track the progress of a student that enters the stream at GR R (6 years old or so) till the end of his/her University career regardless of which school or which province the student goes to. That includes all biographical information, information on parents, fees, marks, sports, clubs, nicknames and merits/demerits.

    The bad news is SASams does everything. Which means it's going to be a helluva hard sell to the more staunch "NO CHANGE" people in organisations. No matter though - as long as the Department of Education champions it properly it should be great. There's already a little bit of resistance here although I'm going to launch a bit of an advertising campaign to see if I can drum up some support.

    Some of the major Pros (for me at least):
    - Totally involved system. Does everything.
    - Plans to move web based and improve useability
    - Ability to control permissions to every facet of the program

    Some of the major cons (for me at least):
    - Access Database
    - Cascading Deletes! (yep, delete a student and every record everywhere is gone. Whoops)

    No doubt in the coming months there'll be topics from me swearing at the system but here's hoping it's good

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    Domino's Avatar
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    It still runs on Access?!

    yikes.....

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    AntiThesis's Avatar
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    Still bloody awful I'm afraid

    It's been almost two years and we're still not quite there. We've (finally!) got a list of students that's actually compatible with the bloody system so now I have the wonderful task of allocating staff members to ensure all the data are correct. Cool no?

    The import process is definitely something that needs to be worked on. I counted and it takes at least 9 different screens to add a student at an average of about 10 minutes per student. So work that out over a studentbase of 1200 or so. You do have the option for importing from excel (well, you have to send the spreadsheet away and some poor sod has to do it) but it's incredibly fickle.

    - Fields must be spelled exactly (Black African, not Black for example and isiXhosa, not Xhosa)
    - Duplicates not allowed in any of the primary fields (no list of what the primary fields are)
    - Not all fields are actually used! So we spent time getting all the stuff like Medical details... and it's just discarded on import

    Aaargh!

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