Remarks by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at the launch of the National Learner Unit Record Information and Tracking System (LURITS), Pretoria.
29 September 2008
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Why is the tracking system that we are launching today so significant, so important, and so path breaking in education planning?
I will tell you.
LURITS solves the problem of duplicate learners in the system.
LURITS tracks learners who move from one school to another.
LURITS tracks learners who drop out of school.
What this means is that for the first time we will have accurate learner enrollment data.
The system contains a sophisticated algorithm that detects possible duplicate learners in the system even when the learners do not have national ID numbers.
The system gives each learner a unique tracking number that stays with the learner as the learner moves from school to school.
The tracking component of the system makes it possible to identify learners who exit one school and do not re-enter the system at another school. In this way, we will be able to identify the individual learners who have left the system and we will be able to compile accurate profiles of these learners.
The system is a major undertaking - it will contain over 12 million individual learner records per year. Provinces are currently implementing the system in an incremental manner across the country and it will be fully operational by January 2010 with the first national dataset available in March 2010.
What did we want the tracking system to do?
The aim was to devise a database that was able to collect information about each learner in the country from Grade R to Grade 12 and put it on a unit record. We also wanted to track the movement of each learner from school to school throughout their school careers. It is important to keep a history of each learner in the system.
A unit record system marks a significant change in the way in which the National EMIS (Education Management Information System) collects data to support planning, monitoring and decision-making.
Currently the EMIS collects aggregated survey data twice a year from each school and integrates this data into a national aggregated store.
The new method of data collection will house the individual data records of each learner and will be regularly updated with changes and movements.
By housing unit record data, LURITS will be able to answer complex questions on relationships between different data variables and will be able to provide accurate demographic profiles of the trends and patterns within the education system.
How did we get to this point?
The Department of Education began thinking out how to design a National Learner Unit Record Information and Tracking System in 2006.
We commissioned the State Information Technology Agency to develop LURITS and work on the functional design commenced in April 2007.
As the Western Cape Education Department had already introduced a learner tracking system, SITA analyzed the Western Cape system and used as a blueprint for the design of the national system.
SITA designed the national tracking system to meet the needs of schools with different levels of ICT capability and it caters for all of the following scenarios:
Schools with paper-based school record keeping systems that will use LURITS via a paper scanning data capture option;
Schools using computerized school administration packages, but with no internet connectivity, that will use LURITS via an electronic batch file mode;
Schools with connectivity using computerized school administration packages that will use LURITS directly.
LURITS's core functions in phase 1 are:
the housing and management of learner data including year end progression data,
the administration of learner transfers between schools and provinces,
the housing and management of educator biographical data,
the management of the national master list of schools,
reporting on learner and educator data for management and planning purposes.
How will the LURITS work?
LURITS will assign each learner a unique learner tracking number that will remain with the learner throughout their school career.
The central system is physically located at SITA Centurion in a secure Department of Education environment. It is divided on a virtual level into nine provincial systems that interact at a national level.
The system contains a sophisticated access and control module that enables a province to delegate certain functions to district or regional level. Each file that is sent to the central system will be compressed and encrypted for security purposes.
Data will be uploaded into the central system from any LURITS Point of Presence. A point of presence is a computer that is connected to the Internet or the SITA backbone and has the LURITS upload engine installed on it.
So there you have it. LURITS will set a gold standard for education data management.