Improving school mapping in DRC thanks to consolidation of geospatial data

Children in Africa health center

The implementation of information systems for government ministries in the health system is Bluesquare’s core business. In this innovation project, carried out in partnership with Cordaid, a similar approach was taken in the field of education, aiming to set up a school map for the DRC using the tools already available in the health system.

Building a school registry platform

This innovation project aims to provide the different partners (Ministry of Education, NGOs, private partners) with a platform, integrated to the DHIS2, to monitor in real time indicators related to education in the DRC. The 2 main objectives are:

  1. To enrich the school map by integrating different existing databases.
  2. To make available a set of tools and propose a methodology to improve the school map.

Currently, there are no readily accessible tools for partners and decentralized levels (divisions and subdivisions) to collect and update information on schools. As a result:

  • Each partner collects information on schools in different regions. But there is no real integration of these data into the Ministry’s tools at the national level.  
  • Lower administrative level (divisions, sub-division) reports information back to the national level (paper forms). However, they receive very little feedback or access to their own data.
Section of the “Carte scolaire” or national school map. It shows the percentage of girls in the schools in Sankuru province.

Why is this important ?

Correct information about the location and functionality of schools allows better evaluation and planning. This serves the local populations needs directly. Once the database is completed, and in combination with other data such as population density, it will be easy to answer questions such as:

  • Where do children have to walk particularly far to reach a school?
  • Where are there too many children in comparison with the existing schools capacities?

The challenges of the database construction

As in the health sector, from one datasource to another, the same school often has a slightly different name with no common identifier. Using algorithmic tools, based not only on name, but also on belonging to different provinces/divisions/ subdivisions and different geographical criteria (e.g. GPS positions when available) these sources can be reconciled. Once the different sources are put into our common repository tool Iaso, the different metadata, mainly on location, type of school, but also functional data when available can be added (e.g. number of students or classes by schools). All these steps of database construction are done in a facility registry matching software. The tool allows to update the information, continuously, with validation processes, before being pushed to the DHIS2 school map (secured). This is also connected to a public visualization platform.

Results of the integration of the different data sources: location of over 10.000 schools in the DRC.

Our georegistry platform in action

As mentioned, combining, harmonising and merging different data sources is a job for our georegistry software. Iaso combines a web dashboard and management interface with a mobile data collection tool. It allows easy query and display of geographic data, geared particularly towards the specific goal of data integration.

In the health sector, DHIS2 is the standard data management platform. In this project we used DHIS2 for handling the school data. Iaso seamlessly integrates with DHIS2 allowing easy integration of DHIS2 data into Iaso for comparison with new data sources, and pushing the results of analysis in Iaso to DHIS2.

Innovation for a better society

Through this project, we wish to make accessible a national platform, piloted by the Ministry of Health. The tool could be digital, interoperable with the Ministry’s tools (eiter DHIS2 or SIGE) and continuously updated. For Bluesquare, innovative processes and the high-performance tools put in place are more important than the completeness of the data, which will follow.

From the positions of the schools and their belonging to a division and sub-division, we were able to artificially reconstruct a first version of the DRC geographical contours. This mappinp is still in the process of being improved.