Enhancing the administration of national examinations using mobile cloud technologies: a case of Malawi national examinations board

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Solomon, Lovemore
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The University of Zambia
National examinations are standardized and centrally set tests that are administered to learners of the same grade within a particular country’s system of education. Technological advances and the search for efficiency have catalyzed recently a migration from paper-and-pencil based way of doing things to computer-based in education and training at all levels. The drivers of this migration have been faster administration, processing and delivery of examination results, error free marking of test items and enhanced interactivity. This study aims at establishing the challenges currently faced by Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) when registering candidates for national examinations as well as disseminating examinations results. A mobile application designed based on Simple Message Service (SMS) and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) which is deployed using cloud computing infrastructure is being proposed to address the challenges. A baseline study was conducted to determine the challenges that the current system has regarding candidate registration, verification of registration details and dissemination of examinations results. The study involved 80 respondents and the sample consisted of teachers, students as well as parents. Interviews with MANEB and Ministry of Education officials were also conducted to get details of MANEB’s current business processes. The findings of the baseline study depicted that the current MANEB processes have a number of challenges i.e. missing entries, wrongly captured details, difficult to read verification sheets, time consuming, delayed examinations results, theft of examinations fees by schools authorities etc. Based on the findings from the baseline study, we developed the cloud based model for candidate registration and results dissemination using cloud computing and mobile application technologies. The system prototype’s performance was measured in terms of its throughput, response time and error rate and it was found out that the system is faster and more reliable than the traditional computer based approach that is currently being employed. It is therefore, envisaged that when the fully fledged application is deployed, it will greatly reduce the problems currently faced.
ICTs--Mobile cloud technologies--Examinations--Malawi