The national department, like any other government department, has a responsibility to account and report to parliament and the public on how resources were allocated and used. As a result, Education Management and Information Systems emanated from the National Department of Education as a means to integrate the previously prevailing available information collection systems that could not talk to each other. EMIS is a new term in the education field which came into being in the 1990’s. Prior to this, education statistics were used. The importance of information for decision making and evaluation as echoed by the National Treasury also necessitated the establishment of the Education Management and Information System. Therefore EMIS was established to ensure that data and information relevant to education planning is collected, analysed and reported. EMIS is mandated by the National Education Information and Management System to ensure that the objectives of the National Education Information Policy of 2005 to guide the functioning of EMIS in the various provinces are achieved. The guiding principles of this policy are highlighted in its vision. For the purposes of this research only guiding principles relating to the provincial education departments will be highlighted:
  •   The aim of an information system is to improve efficiency of the education system to introduce more transparency in the management of the education system, as well as the education departments, and to ensure greater accountability regarding the use of scarce public resources. 

  • Any EMIS must facilitate public access to accurate, timely and relevant information within the legal framework to all role players. 60 

  • Information on education inputs, processes and outcomes at all levels of the system should be accessible to the public with the exception of personal information where confidentiality should be ensured. 

  •  Data flow should be bi-directional both vertically and horizontally 

  •  Ideally data should be processed, analysed, and published close to the collection point. 

  •  EMIS should facilitate capacity building, support and training on collection, processing and analysis, dissemination and use of information at all levels of education. 

  • There should be a mechanism for coordination between the national and provincial levels to accommodate the diverse needs of provinces especially in establishing a core data set and the use of appropriate and compatible technology. 

According to the Department of Basic Education’s National Education Information Policy Act133, EMIS must facilitate public access to accurate, timely and relevant information within the legal framework to all role players. The act further emphasizes that information on education inputs and processes should be accessible to the public with the exception of personal information where confidentiality should be ensured. In the interests of the guiding vision of this act, it is understood that this vision must be clearly articulated in the Free State strategic plan indicating how the department will respond to achieving the vision as articulated in the act. The EMIS Sub-directorate, established to liaise with the National Department of Education, is part of the Infrastructure Planning, IT / IS systems Directorate. This replaces the Information and Knowledge Management Directorate approved in 2005 which was headed by a Director. However, the post of the Director was never filled, nor did the department prioritise the filling of the vacant posts of the three Sub-directorates according to the structure that was approved in 2005. EMIS’s purpose is to ensure that information is readily available and that knowledge-management systems are in place to assist the department with regard to planning, monitoring, informed decision making, improved service delivery and organizational performance.

Its functions include the following:

  • To gather, capture, record and store data to be used by a variety of clients and stakeholders. 

  • To process and analyse data and disseminate information for improved planning, monitoring and decision making.

  •   To effectively use information and knowledge to increase productivity, the use of resources and reducing costs incurred in the education system

  •   To provide systems support to the information and knowledge functions. EMIS collects data from schools through different surveys, the primary one being the snap survey (10th day survey), which must reach schools within ten days of the schools’ yearly reopening. Data fields in this survey include the following: 

  •  general information about the school,

  •  learner information (learner enrolment per gender and class and learners with special needs) , 

  •  staff, including teaching staff and non-teaching staff for schools and hostels depending on whether the school has a hostel or not (number of staff who are permanent, temporary or substitutes), 

  •  staff remunerated by the department or school governing bodies,  class groups available and multi-grade teaching (if applicable)

  •   the language of teaching which requires information related to the number of teachers involved in teaching a particular language and the number of learners involved per language of teaching per class.

  •  RSA citizenship

  •   Security at the school.

  •   General information about the school (physical address and contact details of the school, lowest and highest grades at the school, total number of multi-grade classes, information related to whether the school has a double shift or not, platooning school, total number of learners enrolled at the school during the current academic year per grade, number of classes for each grade) 

  • Learner information pertaining to learners registered at the school for the current academic year when the form is filled in,(learner distribution, hostel boarders, number of learners excluding ELSEN, learners per race, gender and grade, primary disability, number of learners according to grade and age including ELSEN learners, males and females separated, learners excluding ELSEN or SNE classes according to home language and grade, both males and females counted together, ELSEN learners per class 62 according to language of learning and teaching and disability, number of learners preferring to receive instruction in a specific language per grade excluding ELSEN learners, ELSEN learners in mainstream classes per disability and grade, female and males separately, ELSEN learners in mainstream according to learning barriers, gender and grade, number of female learners that fell pregnant during the previous year, number of transfers to and from the school. If the school keeps records of learners registered for receiving social grants the number per grade is needed, number of learners who dropped out, or were not promoted last year and are repeating a grade, Grade 1 first-time enrolments, number of learners who have attended pre-primary programmes, mortality statistics of learners during the previous academic year, mortality statistics for educators during the previous academic year, number of learners whose parents are deceased). 

  • Curriculum information : 

This field requires information related to languages in the GET band, number of learners according to languages, subjects and phase, number of learners (Grade 10) taking secondary subjects according to gender and race, number of learners (Grade 10) taking language subjects according to gender and race, number of learners taking subjects of other assessment bodies that are approved according to gender and race, number of learners (Grade 11-12) taking secondary subjects according to grade, gender, race and subject grade  Resources and equipment

  •   General: information pertaining to the annual fees charged by the school per learner during the previous year.  Number of classrooms (general classrooms, multi-purpose classroom, biology or science laboratories, art room, typing room, technical drawing room, home economics room, design and technology room, workshops, computer room, media centre, library) 

  • Educator information (for all educators at the school, substitutes and permanent) includes surname, identity document, race, age, contact details, disability, post level, home language, nature of appointment, qualifications, years of teaching, subject or learning area teaching, hours per week). Each educator is expected to fill in the form. The Department of Basic Education,135 prescribes the submission of snap and the annual surveys annually by every school, and ultimately provinces submit the data to the department. As a result, the date for the submission of these surveys is set by the National.
Department. Schools are informed through a circular about the date of submission to the provincial office via the district offices. In addition to the above, EMIS Free State also gathers data through the following surveys: Life Skills surveys, Common examinations, Grade 12 results and ICT infrastructure.