Paperless Data Collection: The key base of quality education in developing countries

Quality education is a function of a lot of attributes crucial to ensure that all the children make the most of their time at school and reap the returns of their hard work. These attributes affect the quality of education both directly in in-directly obstructing the ability of a child to learn to the full capacity.

To mention a few attributes that affect the education quality are school environment, hygienic aspect of the toilets, availability of clean and sanitized water, the nature of weather in a particular place, teaching methods, and many more.

The attributes affect mostly the developing countries in Africa and other continents. Without the right information at the right time, the literacy level of a particular country is directly affected which leads to stagnant economic growth.

In the early 90s, research companies used paper-based approaches to undertake research and survey projects. In some instances, due to the work intensity some of the research companies even go to an extent of cooking up data to impress their clients.

It all starts in the field where the data is collected, the pile of papers are then moved to the data entry team for preparation of reports for the final client. The nature of involving two teams made the process more prone to errors due to the lack of seamless link in between. At times when the data entry clerk cannot comprehend what is written in the questionnaire sheet, most often they will write what they feel based on their instincts.

The dismal performance that was associated with paper-based data collection processes led to a delay in decision making by the responsible organizations. The nature of the traditional (paper-based) approach limit the efficacy of the responsible organization is brought about the lengthy duration that the paper-based takes until final reports are produced. By then, it can either be too late for appropriate convention projects to be designed and implemented.

Recently in developing countries, most of the survey projects are undertaken using technical devices which are installed with questionnaire-handling mobile applications. The process starts by encoding the questionnaire into a tablet on which the assessors will use it to interview the audience on field. Once the data is collected, the assessors upload the filled questionnaire into a dedicated server where reports are made immediately.

The nature of having a seamless flow of information from the field where the data is collected to the servers increases the data accuracy hence leading to reliable information to the key stakeholders. With such information, the donors, NGOs and other related organization are assured of the decisions they make and can accurately gauge the outcomes.

Some of the research companies in Developing countries including Tanzania have fully embraced and obtained an in-depth experience using tablet-based data collection approaches to collect data within the education sector using tools such as Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), Early-Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) and many more. The approach assured that the stakeholders receive the reports in a minimal time eliminating errors and saving time as opposed to the paper-based approaches.

Tablet-based data collection approach has proven to be affordable, efficient and time-saving towards the donors and other clients who are in need of getting access to the reliable information necessary for decision making in developing countries.