There is one thing the South African schooling system cannot complain about - learner data! We have sufficient access to data on the success or failures of the current system.
Within each school we have, as a minimum, access to terabytes of learner biographical data, medical data and assessment data. At provincial level, this is collated and in addition, there is provincial testing that allows further insight into each school and by extension, each learner. Our National Education Department too has access to all this detail. Nationally, there is also the Annual National Assessments and the national matriculation results. Added to this, FET colleges also add to the statistics via the National Curriculum - Vocation (NCV). I will ignore the data that sits at university level.
We have huge databases on each of our students. I'm not sure that we need anymore systems to augment the current data sets. Our challenge is to use the data collected and collated to inform our drive to improve the quality of education in our country. If fact, a few years ago, a Unesco report complimented us on the data collected and critiqued us for not utilising it fully!
I want to suggest we've become data drunk! We are making serious attempts to get as much data on the "goings-on" in our classrooms, but the same amount of energy is not being spent on trawling through the data, checking on patterns and doing trend analysis, feeding back to schools in a very specific way on how the data can be used to turn things around, showing them how to do this and breaking down the issues into bite sizes so that there is no misunderstanding. Once this initial exposure is complete, to work with schools and teachers to address the findings through meaningful, well structured response plans, that have clear markers in place to review, augment or adjust the same as they move over time, with the ultimate aim of changing the culture within the learner and teacher in every classroom. But we don't do this well given the massive system tremor we create every time we seek the data on each learner every quarter. As the "gatherers-of-the-details", officials are as tired as the schools that are providing it each quarter. And by the time we've overcome the exhaustion, we have to do it all again!
We really need to pursue gathering data on our learners in a way that is more "real-time" than the current "rear-view mirror" approach each quarter. Too much time has elapsed by the time we get to see the details of learner performance. By the time the analysis is done, we've lost a few weeks in the new term and the pressure mounts to do appropriate interventions whilst continuing to keep pace with the curriculum. We must look to technology and supplementary resources to help us achieve this. It is possible to get "almost immediate" feedback on assessments. All that is required of us is the will to take the leap! We have very little to lose.