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Rwanda: Software to Tackle Forgery of School Reports
Source: Rwanda Focus
Source Date: Monday, November 05, 2012
Focus: Public Institutions
Country: Rwanda
Created: Nov 05, 2012

When software developer Jean-Pierre Habinshuti was one day walking around in the city center, he suddenly noticed a man filling in points on two blank primary school reports. When finished, the man gave them to a young man nearby for stamping. It was done in a matter of minutes. It made Habinshuti realize how easy it is to fake school reports, all the more so since they are printed on plain paper you can find in any stationery shop, and filled in with an ordinary pen. Forging a stamp and signature is not rocket science either. "That scared me, but it also gave me an idea that later became the project I'm working on right now," says Habinshuti, who is currently working at the ICT incubation center kLab, to which you are admitted only when you can present a 'viable project that society will benefit from.' "After observing how easy it is to forge school documents, I realized that I should do something about it." He created a web application called Unified School System (USS), a centralized system that will connect all primary and high schools in Rwanda to tackle the increasing forgery of school documents, improve student performance and engage parents in following up the education of their children. Data - test and exam scores as well as students' behavior - will be inputted by the school, stored into a server at the ministry of education, and then delivered instantly to the parents by e-mail or text message. The system also allows to print school reports with some security features - the paper will have a specific watermark, and every report will have a unique serial number that can be tracked. Habinshuti started working on the project nearly three months ago, coding it in PHP whereas data is stored into MySQL databases. He deliberately chose these two open-source programming languages because they are completely free. Being a web app, rather than desktop software, it will be universally accessible and relatively easy to maintain. "I presented the software to the ministry of education; they have appreciated it and approved both the design and user interface because it will help them standardize the platform - something they have been lacking. We have also sat down together to apply the final tweaks. The software was thoroughly checked, debugged and is now almost ready for the public." Being the first-ever IT community in Rwanda, kLab is an open space where IT entrepreneurs and designers meet to share ideas and skills. It hosts training sessions every Wednesday, which is where Habinshuti learned the techniques to enhance the navigability of the web app as well as security measures that must be taken to prevent the software from being hacked. The developer is confident that the ministry of education will adopt his system for the next academic year. He wants to offer it free of charge for the sake of marketing himself by building a solid résumé in software development in Rwanda.
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