My Role in GaRI

This is the third installment of a three-part series on GaRI. This series is as much a way for me to navigate EWB’s GaRI sector as it is instructive for my readers. The individual posts will make sense on their own, but a full understanding will be achieved through reading them all:

  1. GaRI: a Primer
  2. GaRI and Decentralization
  3. My Role in GaRI

Disclaimer: the details of my placement are likely to change between now and May 15th (that’s a lot of time, believe it or not).

My placement this summer is a new one. I’ll be applying the competencies with District Data Systems (DDS, = evidence-based decision-making) developed by the GaRI team at the District level to Education at the Regional government level. Basically, I’ll be working with the Regional Education Planning Office (REPO) and the Regional Education Statistics Office (RESO) in the Northern Region to create a data system that is flexible and that suits their needs. Er, the needs we identify together when I get there, because right now I’ve got very little knowledge about what those needs might be.

Additionally, I might be assisting in the roll-out of reforms to the District Education Management Information System (EMIS) by the REPO at various districts in the Northern region. This would mean travelling to the districts in question and working with REPO staff and DCPU staff to get the EMIS reforms in place.

As of right now, each district directorate performs a large census and collects many data about education in their district. That data goes upwards to the Ministry of Education, but doesn’t trickle back down to the district in any analyzable form. Thus, districts can’t effectively use the data to make changes to education in the area. Once again, it’s a problem where the middle is missing; hopefully I can take the steps to begin to fill in that missing middle bit.

This placement is full of ambiguity, because it’s a new partnership for GaRI and it involves a new focus for DDSs. I love the ambiguity in it and I’m super excited to jump in and start feeling things out. My main objectives will be:

  1. To understand the flow and use of data at district and regional levels and to identify areas for optimization in that system
  2. To develop a technical tool (i.e. a DDS) at the REPO
  3. To ensure that decision-makers have the skills to analyze data and use that analysis for effective decision-making
  4. To create a plan for sustainability of the program

Sounds huge, right? I’m more than a little overwhelmed with it, especially with the technical aspect (I need some more practice with Excel). However, understanding my goals is the first step to getting into my role, and I’m excited about the value-adds I can bring to the situation. For example, I’ve learned to coach like a boss because of my role as chapter president and that skill will certainly aid me in my role with the GaRI team.

My placement will have me working in the bustling city of Tamale, which is the capital of the Northern Region and home to about 350,000 people. I’ll be there in the wet season, during which an average of 1100 mm of rain falls over the course of 95 days. Tamale is primarily Muslim and there are many mosques in the city. I’m really excited to wake up to the Call to Prayer (something I’ve never heard before) and to explore the customs of African Islam. Ideally, I’ll be living just outside the city in a more rural area, but I’ll commute into the office daily. It’ll be like living in the suburbs (um, maybe).

Now you understand as much as I do about my placement. I’m going to continue to learn more about the regional government structure and the offices with which I’ll be working. What I’d like to know now is what more would you like to know about my work? Answer that question in the comments and I’ll prepare a Q and A post for my next one. Thanks!

-C

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