EghtesadOnline: In order to expedite the processing of applications, increase transparency and curb paper use, Iranian schools are to record the documents of all primary school students electronically.
As of the beginning of the next academic year (Sept. 23), the documents of all first graders will be stored in electronic systems.
According to Mehdi Sharafi, the head of Education Ministry’s ICT Office, the move is in line with upgrading schools to smart education center and makes students' information readily available to both teachers and parents, the local news website Peivast reported.
"Currently, each student has an individual file in school, in which their identification information, school report sheets, classroom activities and any other report related to their educational performance are kept," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
So far, at the end of each academic year, the paper files have been archived in schools, occupying a large space and generously adding to injudicious paper use.
“If these documents are replaced with electronic files, they will be more accessible. Teachers can also review the students' files and get a perspective of their strong and weak points at a glance,” he added.
Sharafi noted that the move will help eliminate the need for parents to visit schools in person and inform them of their kids' progress or other issues that may come up electronically.
For the first time in Iran, Sharafi added, the report sheets of first graders will be issued electronically and the whole file of students will be accessible only through their national ID numbers.
Tip of the Iceberg
The measure is only the tip of the iceberg, as the Education Ministry authorities have started collaborations with ICT Ministry to promote smart technologies in schools across the country.
As per a deal lately signed by ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi and the caretaker of Education Ministry, Javad Hosseini, efforts are being made to transform schools into smart educational centers.
The deal was signed on the sidelines of the recent International Exhibition of Electronics, Computers, and e-Commerce (Elecomp 2019) held in Tehran on July 18-22.
Ideally, a fully smart school is supposed to have smartboards, high-speed Internet coverage, laptops for all the students, video projectors, etc.
Smart schools are expected to offer all the services, including the process of enrolling students, teaching and conducting tests, on a digital platform.
As of the next academic year (Sept. 23), all smart schools in Iran will be evaluated and ranked on the basis of students and teachers’ access to information and communication technologies.
The move is aimed at clarifying the status of schools and helping upgrade school equipment to gradually convert them into smart educational centers.
According to Sharafi, of the total 108,000 schools in the country, only 22% are currently considered to be smart.
"With the implementation of the upcoming evaluation plan, these smart schools will be thoroughly inspected and ranked, and the amount of digital content offered to the students will be reviewed," he said.
As per the plan, these schools will get a ranking of one to five stars based on their smart educational services.
“Schools with the highest level of technology will get the first rank," he added.
The ranking policy, Sharafi said, will help parents select the right school for their children.
Also, this will place restrictions on schools that overstate their technological capabilities and overcharge parents.
Officials have recently been paying more attention to upgrading schools.
According to the Education Ministry's website, during the agreement’s signing ceremony, Jahromi said, “For boosting Iran’s digital economy, more efforts should be made to upgrade schools into smart educational centers.”
Jahromi noted that the agreement between the two ministries includes various measures, including connecting all schools to Iran’s National Information Network and equipping them with the primary modern tools needed by students and teachers.
"We are talking about making schools smart. This is while there are numerous schools in underdeveloped regions where classes are held in tents. As per the deal, the least developed schools are to be primarily targeted," he said.
Hosseini said currently 77,000 schools are connected to NIN and use electronic systems. He added that only 23,000 schools offer technological education services and can be called smart schools.
“To increase the number of smart schools in the country, educational experts have prepared 12,000 digital educational contents, including multimedia courses and educational videogames, which will be applied to the curriculum as of the next academic year,” he said.
“Smart schools with adequate electronic infrastructures will also have to file the students’ health documents in a digital database.”
The caretaker of Education Ministry said the agreement specifically targets schools in suburban areas and cities with a population of less than 20,000.
Hosseini said that to achieve the smart education goals, companies active in technological and other relevant fields, private investors and philanthropists have been invited for collaboration.