Portal to focus on the collection of quality data about TVET

A newly launched monitoring portal for collecting, analysing and sharing real-time data among technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in East Africa will help close quality and data collection gaps in the region.

The portal was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 8 August by the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA). It will be used by various stakeholders, including policy- and decision-makers, as well as development partners, to aid evidence-based decision-making.

There is an acute shortage of accurate and reliable data from higher education institutions in East Africa. According to a study on the demographics of faculty in the East African community, undertaken by IUCEA together with a consortium of partners and published in 2023, the region faces a myriad of challenges in accessing quality data on higher education.

The study identified inadequate documentation and a lack of centralised data collection and sharing systems within countries in the region as leading challenges to access reliable data in East Africa.

The proponents of the initiative believe that the portal is, therefore, a “significant step in addressing the challenge of quality and reliable data in the region”, according to a statement by the IUCEA.

ICT infrastructure

In a study published in the journal Higher Education earlier this year (2023), Mohammad Moshtari from the faculty of management and business, industrial engineering and management, Tampere University, Finland, argued that East Africa’s higher education system is “probably the most marginalised within the world” despite having access to most global structures and systems inherited from colonial powers and the more recent influence of donations.

The researchers who were looking into the challenges of the internationalisation of higher education in East Africa found weaknesses in ICT infrastructure as a major holdup to research and internationalisation in the region.

“The portal will create a more structured and organised approach to data collection and management among TVET institutions,” said Professor Idris Rai, the deputy executive secretary of IUCEA.

Building capacity

Speaking at the launch of the portal, Rai said that, as part of the World Bank’s East African Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP), TVET institutions will be trained on how to maintain accurate records to enhance the quality and reliability of the data collected.

“The data collected will then be consolidated in the central portal to make it easily accessible to policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders in higher education,” said Rai.

According to a news release by IUCEA and EASTRIP, the portal was developed by a team of information technology experts from the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT), one of IUCEA’s member institutions, and a beneficiary of the World Bank-funded EASTRIP and the region’s flagship TVET institution in the field of ICT.

Professor Preksedis Ndomba, the principal of DIT, lauding the World Bank Group for the financial support through EASTRIP, and IUCEA for giving DIT the opportunity to develop the portal, said the region will be able to enhance project monitoring and evaluation.

Rai reiterated that IUCEA’s collaboration with DIT has resulted in the development of a monitoring and evaluation portal that will not only enable higher education institutions to monitor and evaluate projects effectively, but will also pave the way for the development of an integrated regional Higher Education Information Management System at the IUCEA secretariat in Kampala, Uganda.

After the portal launch, a three-day capacity-building training session for monitoring and evaluation officers from TVET institutions, supported by the East African Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project, will be hosted to help the officers to operate the portal effectively. The training entails data entry, analysis and report generation to enhance skills and expertise in project monitoring and management.