Faulty technology: Without plotter machine, mapping of educational institutes a lost cause

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The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department is facing a shortage of funds to replace a plotter machine which has been out of order for the past five months. The machine was used to map educational institutions in the province.

An official notification of the Education Management Information System (EMIS) section of the E&SE Department notified the provincial coordinator of German firm, GIZ, in Peshawar that the only machine installed with them is out of order. “GIZ tried several times to repair it, but the machine could not be made to work as it is outdated,” said the notification.

It added the plotter is necessary for using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a mapping technology that enables users to build and interact with a variety of drawings, charts and databases. However, GIS is meaningless without the machine.

In the notification, a copy of which was also sent to K-P Minister for E&SE Atif Khan and secretary E&SE, it is requested that a new plotter with similar features be purchased for the section.

An official of the department, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune the machine was purchased in 2005 by GIZ for the section. It was used by them to print year-by-year maps of educational institutions across the province. He added the machine had been repaired by a donor organisation once in the past, but it is out of order for the second time now.

“We have requested them to provide their expertise for repairs, as our work has suffered greatly,” he added. The official further said the department is not in a position to install another machine itself due to insufficient funds. He said he was not very hopeful a donor organisation would replace or repair the machine this time.

“GIS is an annual exercise for chalking out maps, as numerous changes occur in their geographical angles. It is a tool for data collection, storage, integration, analysis and dissemination,” said the official. “The department was not able to prepare the map in 2013 because of the dysfunctional machine. If we don’t get a response to our notification, we may try to approach other donors.”

There are 3.93 million students in more than 28,472 government schools with more than 119,000 teachers, according to the Annual Statistical Report 2012-13. The report adds 4,902 are secondary level functional educational institutions.

EMIS was established in 1990-91 in the directorate of elementary and secondary education but was later restructured in 2006 under the direct control of the secretary of the department. The section was expanded to also cover secondary schools in 2002 after the merger of Primary & Secondary Education under the control of Director E&SE.

Despite repeated attempts, K-P minister for E&SE could not be reached for comments.

Source: The Express Tribune.