SchoolReport

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SchoolReport

Cape Town, SudáfricaCape Town, Sudáfrica
Year Founded:
2013
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

SchoolReport is a real-time platform for discovering successes and failures in the South African education system. Using our app, students around the country report on conditions in their schools. SchoolReport analyses these reports, and provides this to parties that improve education for all.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

Students immediately report problems and successes to people with the power to make changes?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In South African schools, there are many problems: absent teachers, broken facilities, missing textbooks... Understanding the scale of the problem is difficult, let alone understanding it in real time. Can we discover the problems and successes in South African schools, and get this information to those who can make a difference? Can we learn what concerns learners, and what elates them, and us this information to improve our education system?

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Rather than a top-down approach to the issues scholars face, SchoolReport asks students themselves, using their mobile phones, to report on the successes and failures they experience. If a teacher is absent, it is reported in real-time. If a student enjoys a class, this is reported as well. We are able to quickly identify the areas needing attention, and those areas where progress, or even exemplary success, is occurring. The SchoolReport app runs on the popular Mxit social network, accessible even on low-end feature phones, with minimal data costs. Already over 13,000 reporters are reporting on the situation in over 4600 schools around the country. We are working with NGOs to action reports and improve education.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A teacher is absent at a school. Students at the school report the absence using their feature phones (or smartphones) and the SchoolReport app. The SchoolReport system collates these reports, and identifies regularly reported teacher absenteeism as an issue at the school. This information is forwarded to educational NGO's, who take it up with the relevant government structures. Over a period of time, consistent reports are received of delighted learners at a school. In particular, a maths teacher is identified as especially inspirational. An education NGO, using these reports, approaches the teacher to assist in developing content and teacher training materials for other teachers in the country.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We soft-launched in late August, and have not engaged in any advertising. We have registered almost 13000 reporters covering more than 4600 schools, and have received over 7000 reports. We are working with a number of NGO's involved in South African education (specifically Equal Education and Axium Education) and are in talks with others (incl Section27). There is great excitement around the opportunity to get real-time data, especially from rural and under-resourced schools, and to use this to keep government and educators accountable. We are furthering the product to include surveys, and the ability to direct questions to users in response to other reports (to validate reports). We are also in the process to preparing a schools survey that will include infrastructure reporting - photographs of fields, buildings, etc.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Until May 2014 we are iterating the platform to improve the value for our data consumers. Thereafter, we intend to introduce a small fee for data access, most probably on a per-school basis. We anticipate marketing this data to NGO's, governments, schools themselves, and potentially to parent bodies and community organizations. With careful technology choices, we intend to keep the data affordable and accessible.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Others have thought of the idea. We have even encountered an NGO who implemented the idea with diaries and paper, but it was unsustainable. We are the first to implement a mobile based solution for Southern Africa, accessible via feature phones (and smartphones), and deployed on a platform that already has a large number of South African youth. The feature phone availability of our solution in particular means that we can access under-privileged and rural youth, a demographic that is very difficult to access in any other way.
Team

Founding Story

I read that government was planning to spend $60 MILLION on fingerprint scanners to track teacher attendance. I thought it a total waste. It would measure only a single metric, and not the right one. Students know when a teacher is absent (or drunk, or behaving inappropriately), and can easily report it on their mobile phones. A friend suggested adding positive reports, to discover successes as well. SchoolReport was born. Within the first days of launch, the MVP was already massively successful. And we've had great feedback from reporters: "I am glad 2 talk abt my skuk ,nd als0 2 knw dat ma 0pini0n c0unts...:)" - KUYASA SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL "I'm happy with ur app...so far...am glad 2 b here" - MMAMATLI PRIMARY SCHOOL
About You
Organization:
SchoolReport
About You
First Name

Craig

Last Name

Mason-Jones

LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

SchoolReport

Organization Country

, WC, Cape Town

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Our current focus is in tuning the data captured, and the reports produced, to better target the requirements of our data consumers. In particular, we are working closely with our current users to focus reports and to provide better validation. We are also developing tools to facilitate workflow management of reports and summarized report data. The more valuable our data, and the better our users can action it, the more value we add.

Once we have proven the model with our current partners, we hope to spread throughout Africa, most likely developing standalone apps in the process.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Our most significant risk is an inability to timeously action received reports. We are working closely with our partners, streamlining the administration interfaces to allow users to identify reports that need immediate action as opposed to those that are not urgent.

We believe that if reporters can see concrete improvements triggered by their reports, the platform will sell itself, and the value it can realise will be significant.

We will also increase the reporter numbers, through word of mouth and through advertising, in collaboration with our partners.

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

We are working closely with Equal Education (www.equaleducation.org.za - a South Africa NGO that has been engaging government about education) to improve the nature of the data we collect, and to ensure that the data gets into the hands of organizations that are able to use it.

We have a couple of other NGO relationships, and are discussing relationships with more partners.

We are also engaging with The Learning Trust for strategic advice.

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Create an environment where people give feedback freely.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

SchoolReport enables school students to directly and anonymously report the successes and failures they experience with the education system, in real time. With this feedback, we can empower NGO's, communities, and government to hold the appropriate participants to account. The SchoolReport platform is accessible across a wide range of feature and smart phones, and costs next to nothing to use. Under resourced and rural students now have a voice, and we can ensure that their voices are heard.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

We are trying to get information about what is actually occurring, on a day-to-day basis, in South African schools. We want this information to reach government, and NGO's who are working with government to improve education in South Africa.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Improve quality of programs

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

Other.

If other, please specify

Mobile App

Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

Mxit is an app platform that works on a wide range of mobile phones, from high end smart phones to low end feature phones. It is a very popular social network in South Africa. Using our app on the Mxit platform, users can easily send reports about the situations in their schools.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Option to provide feedback anonymously

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

None

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

None

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

They understand that feedback is necessary

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Reports on collected information

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

Other

If other, please specify

Feedback is shared with organizations engaged in imporving South African educaiton.

Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

Working with Section27 we have identified the necessity of classifying reports into 'silos', eg. "textbooks", "sanitation", "bullying". These silos will then be directed to organizations that specifically focus on those areas.

With Axium Education and Section27 we have realized the importance of providing geographically ringfenced reports : e.g. reports from only a certain list of schools within a certain area. We use this to provide focussed reports to specific service providers.

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Since we only gather reports, and forward the reports to third parties (NGOs are present, government in the future), we struggle to get enough attention from the NGO's: they are very busy, and their budgets and attention are stretched. We need to be spending more time anticipating their issues, and hand-holding them through utilizing this tool, while simultaneously iterating the tool to better suit their requirements. On our side, this requires patience and budget.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Lack of funding for feedback data collection

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I would like to be on it

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?

Making potential users aware of feedback systems / data gathering tools is valuable, especially if they can envision repurposing these for their particular situations.

What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?

So far so good.

What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

This is a difficulty we have at the moment. We are highly dependent upon the NGO's and government to action the reports we receive. We DO NOT want to be undertaking action ourselves - that would simply make us another education focussed NGO. So we are working on reporting tools within our back-end to track NGO and other user's 'productivity' ito responding to and resolving issues reported. But as mentioned already, this is proving difficult since we are competing for NGO's attention, and while their response to SchoolReport has been overwhelmingly positive, that postivity has not yet turned into consistent and substantial actioning of issues reported.