Module A5: Data Flow and Information Dissemination

4. Horizontal information dissemination

Various stakeholders – including policy-makers, government department heads, relevant agencies/ bodies, community leaders, parents, students and the general public – all want to know what is happening in the education system.

There is a growing demand for schools to be accountable, both to higher levels of the educational administration as well as to local stakeholders. The same applies to education offices at different levels. By actively sharing information, schools and other offices in the education system can bring education closer to their local communities in order to increase understanding and participation, and to mobilize their support to encourage a communal sense of All for Education.

For these reasons, all levels of the education administration, from individual schools to the Ministry of education, must pay special attention to regularly disseminate information horizontally to the stakeholders at their respective levels (see diagram 2 above).

The kind of tools to be used for information dissemination may include:

  • brochures/pamphlets/flyers
  • school profiles
  • district/provincial education profiles
  • annual reports
  • special reports on a specific topic or theme
  • summary tables, lists and charts
  • information display on school boards and during community activities
  • media releases
  • Internet websites and by email

The kind of information channel and communication tools to use depends upon the target audience and the purpose of sharing the information. At the school level, school managers may use the school records to produce school reports and various summary lists, tables and charts to inform the school management board in order to mobilize and help them to actively participate in the school’s planning, management and decision-making processes.

Selected parts of the report and summaries, together with general information about the school, can be incorporated into brochures and pamphlets for wider dissemination to the local community. Some tips about producing brochures are given in the textbox below and in the footnotes. Such brochures may be handed out during local or school events, and when the school manager and teachers meet with community leaders, parents and students.

Some schools organize special days for visitors, when they present summary information about the school, classes, teachers and students using displays and brochures. Copies of information brochures may also be provided to related local government departments and bodies, for them to serve as intermediaries for further distribution. These are some examples of good practices in general information dissemination by schools.

TIPS FOR PRODUCING EFFECTIVE BROCHURES:

  • Most important information can be printed on six double-sided C-fold brochures
  • Combine succinct text, graphics, photos, tables, etc.
  • Use 2-4 colours and glossy paper if possible
  • Consistently use same text font and colours
  • Always print more copies than estimated

 

Activity 7

Find out about existing practices to disseminate information to stakeholders at respective levels, and answer the following questions:

For school managers and personnel:

  1. Has your school produced and disseminated information to the school management board, parents-teachers association and other local stakeholders?
  2. If yes, what kinds of information dissemination products/channels have you produced/used? To whom have you disseminated the information? How effective is each of these products/channels?
  3. If no, do you plan to begin producing and disseminating information to the local stakeholders? what kind of information dissemination tools/channels do you intend to produce/use?

For district and local education officers, school inspectors:

  1. Do the schools in your area systematically produce and disseminate information to their school management board, parents-teachers association and other local stakeholders? what have you done to promote and support such practices?
  2. Have you produced and disseminated information to the stakeholders in your district? if yes, what kind of information dissemination products/channels have you produced/used? To whom have you disseminated the information? How effective is each of these products/channels?
  3. If no, do you plan to begin producing and disseminating information to the stakeholders in your district? what kind of information dissemination products/channels do you intend to produce/use?

For central and provincial education administrators:

  1. Does the Ministry of education systematically produce and disseminate information to the stake- holders at the central and lower levels? if yes, what kind of information dissemination products/ channels have you produced/used? To whom have you disseminated the information? How effectively is each of these products/channels?
  2. if no, do you plan to begin producing and disseminating information to the stakeholders in your district? what kind of information dissemination products/channels do you intend to produce/use?
  3. What can the Ministry of education do to promote and support the practices of systematic information dissemination at all levels of the educational administration?

4.1 improving school-community interactions through information dissemination and exchange

An added advantage of disseminating information to the local community and stakeholders is to facilitate the exchange of information and increase interactions for the mutual benefit of the school and the school’s local community. Active dissemination of information about the school can encourage local stakeholders to take interest in the school’s activities, achievements and problems. This can help to generate support from the local government and community. it can also encourage parents and guardians to send their children to school.

By opening channels for sharing information, local stakeholders will be encouraged to share other relevant information with the school’s personnel, including:

  • local population dynamics and issues especially about disadvantaged ‘unreached’ children and adults
  • economic prospects and their impact on education
  • changes in production and employment patterns
  • social issues affecting the schools
  • emerging needs for learning
  • families with children facing difficulties in attending school.
  • Such information may be crucial for identifying the ‘unreached’ children and unmet learning needs in the local area, and for adjusting the priorities and improving management of the school to achieve education for All.

Activity 8

Find out about the nature of existing data and information flow between the school and the local community, and answer the following questions:

For school managers and personnel:

  1. Does your school frequently share information about the school with the local community and stakeholders? what kind of data and information do you share with them?
  2. What kind of data and information flow exists between your school and the local community and stakeholders? what kind of information can you obtain from which local stakeholder? How? when?
  3. What use do you make of the information obtained from the local stakeholders? How useful are such data and information? what are the problems with such information and its use?
  4. What should be done in order to improve the processes of school-community interactions through information dissemination and sharing?

For district and local education officers, school inspectors:

  1. Do the schools in your area frequently share information about the school with the local community and stakeholders? what kind of data and information do they share?
  2. What kind of data and information flow exists between the schools in your area and their local community and stakeholders? what kind of information can they obtain from which local stake- holders? How? when?
  3. How do schools in your area use the information obtained from their local stakeholders? How useful are such data and information? what are the problems with such information and its use?
  4. What should be done in order to improve the processes of school-community interactions through data flow and information dissemination?

4.2 information exchange and networking among schools

When schools share information with each other, such as school reports and performance indicators, it promotes mutual learning based on each other’s experience and good practices. it also helps schools compare their performance with other schools, which often motivates people to improve their own school’s performance.

Schools can exchange information by sharing school brochures, school profiles and school reports and engaging in discussions with personnel from other schools. This may occur face-to-face or using telephone, internet or other telecommunications services. The district and provincial education offices can also help to promote and facilitate such dissemination and exchange of information among schools, for example by organizing meetings and distributing school brochures and reports.

Provincial and district summaries produced by the Ministry of Education can be used to pro- mote dialogues among the provinces, districts and schools in order to compare performance and issues encountered, identify important experiences, and learn from each other. Such summaries can include tables and charts of common indicators for use in comparing the performance of individual schools or districts, and generating exchange of experience.

Activity 9

Find out about existing practices to exchange information among the schools, and answer the following questions:

For school managers and personnel:

  1. Does your school directly exchange information with other schools? if yes, what kind of information and how? if no, why not?
  2. What benefits does your school obtain from exchanging information with other schools? Also, what have been the constraints?
  3. How do you plan to improve information exchange with other schools?

For district and local education officers, school inspectors:

  1. Do the schools in your area exchange information with other schools? if yes, what kind of information and how? if no, why not?
  2. What has been your role in promoting and facilitating such information exchange among the schools in your area?
  3. How do you plan to improve such information exchange among the schools in your area?

For central and provincial education administrators:

  1. Does the Ministry of education systematically promote and facilitate information exchange among the schools in your country/province?
  2. How do you plan to improve such information exchange among the schools in your country/ province?

4.3 Press and media releases

More and more, schools and education offices use the press and media coverage to communicate information to the general public in order to keep them informed and to mobilize their support198 (See Picture 1).

Besides regularly distributing the latest school brochure and documented information to the media, school managers and education officers may directly engage the media on the occasion of important school events or activities, or whenever there is a newsworthy piece of information or story to tell the public. For example, a school open day, sports day, graduation day or other national commemorations such as Teachers’ day are all occasions for the school management to inform the media and the public in order to mobilize their participation and support. An interesting and mean- ingful happening or story with a class, a student or a teacher in the school can also be the topic of a separate media release.

To help the media to quickly and correctly write about and disseminate the information, the school may write up its own media release article (also known as a press release),20 and send it to the media agencies for use. Here are some tips:

TIPS FOR WRITING MEDIA RELEASES:

  • Pick a good story
  • Use an interesting headline
  • Attractive writing covering the basic information: who, what, when, where, why, how.
  • Iif possible include quotes from persons involved and/or affected
  • Always end with your contact information (phone number, email, etc.)

4.4 using the internet

With the spread of access to the internet, schools and district education offices can disseminate information by either setting up their own website to disseminate information, or making use of other existing websites such as those of the Ministry of education and of local government departments (see samples below and websites in the footnote).

Sampleof school website

In some countries, the Ministry of education provides technical assistance to help individual schools design, build and maintain their own website. in other countries, school managers are asked to fill in a standard template with information about their school. This information is then incorporated and posted on the Ministry of education’s website on behalf of the school.

There are many books and internet-based resources that give simple instructions about how to set up a website. we can also learn about mistakes to avoid while designing our own website, from poorly designed sites.

Sample of school website 2

A website should be easy to update, and should be updated regularly. Visitors will quickly lose interest in your site if they see lots of out-dated information. A person should be trained and assigned to systematically gather the latest information and to regularly update the website. This person must regularly look for relevant news, events, information and stories, and to use them to update the site.

Activity 10

Find out about the state of information dissemination and flow between the education system and other stakeholders. In particular, find out what kind of information are disseminated, how are they disseminated, what are the experiences and lessons learnt, and then answer the following questions:

For school managers and personnel:

  1. Does your school prepare media releases whenever there is a worthwhile occasion, event or story about what is happening at your school? if yes, how frequently do you do this? if no, why not?
  2. Does your school disseminate information using a website? if yes, are you using your own website or some other website? if no, why not?
  3. What kind of feedback have you received regarding the information you disseminated?
  4. Do you think such information dissemination helps to strengthen the linkages between your school and the local community as well as with other schools? why?
  5. What do you think should be done in order to further improve information dissemination?

For district and local education officers, school inspectors:

  1. Do the schools in your area prepare media releases whenever there is a worthwhile occasion, event or story to tell the public about what is happening at their school? if yes, how frequently? if no, why not?
  2. Do the schools in your area disseminate information using a website? if yes, are they using their own website or some other website? if no, why not?
  3. What kind of feedback have you received regarding the information the schools disseminated?
  4. Do you think such information dissemination helps to strengthen the linkages between the schools in your area and the local community as well as with other schools? why?
  5. What do you think should be done in order to further improve information dissemination?

For central and provincial education administrators:

  1. Do the schools in your country/province prepare media releases when there is a worthwhile occasion, event or story about what is happening at their school? if yes, how frequently?
    if no, why not?
  2. Do the schools in your country/province disseminate information using a website? if yes, are they using their own website or some other website? if no, why not?
  3. What kind of feedback have you received regarding the information the schools in your country/ province disseminated?
  4. Do you think such information dissemination helps to strengthen the linkages between the schools in your country/province and the local community as well as with other schools? why?
  5. What do you think should be done in order to further improve information dissemination?

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