Part 1. Software in the field of general education.

Digitalization should undoubtedly penetrate the school system. Schoolchildren should learn to use electronic textbooks from the first grade, learn from them, write on electronic boards, draw graphic pictures in electronic programs, and also have to do homework and inform parents about their progress through an electronic diary.

Our Ministry of Education has been trying to implement this idea for a long time, but, as in most cases, it does it very clumsily. Back in 2016, the then Minister of Education Yerlan Sagadiyev introduced the “Kundelik” system in the country’s public schools in a pilot mode and, thus, bypassed the procedures of public procurement and public-private partnership. Within the framework of this pilot, almost all secondary schools of the Republic of Kazakhstan had the only software “Kundelik” installed. The developer and owner of this program is a certain Kazakhstani company, although the software product itself almost completely copies the Russian equivalent of “Diary”.

But the problem is not even that, but that the minister promised that this would be a one-year experiment, during which schoolchildren, teachers and parents would be taught how to use electronic diaries, and only after that a decision would be made on the introduction of a particular software product in the country’s schools. This promise was not fulfilled. A year later, the competition was not held, and the owners of “Kundelik” achieved their goal: they infiltrated almost all schools in the country, accustomed all users to their program and, thus, organizationally and psychologically minimized the possibility of competition with them. After so many years of getting used to the “Kundelik” program, it will now be difficult to retrain an audience of many thousands to a new product.

None of the officials: neither the minister nor the direct executors of this experiment were punished, conclusions were not drawn, and “Kundelik” continues to dominate the market.

How was the digitalization of diaries in the country’s schools really supposed to be organized?

First of all, the Ministry of Education had to develop software product standards. The essence of the standard is to establish the most important criteria for a software product and make them mandatory for all developers who want to supply such a product to schools in the country.

Secondly, it was necessary to create a small software product inside the ministry to collect the necessary information from all software systems in schools. This is a very small and simple program with open gateways, into which future software products can be connected and only the most important information for the ministry and for the government can be merged into a single center. For example, about the number of schools, about the number of students in each school, about the progress of students, about their transitions from school to school, and so on.

After that, the ministry had to announce the free admission of private software developers to the country’s schools. From that moment on, any company could apply to any school in the country and offer its product, which has been previously checked by the Ministry of Education for compliance with the developed standards and which fulfills the requirements for integration with the ministerial portal and transmits all the necessary information there.

Since most secondary schools in the country are state-owned, and the public sector is prone to corruption, that is, software developers can use bribes to persuade each school principal to conclude an agreement with this particular company, the Ministry should have prescribed a clause in the rules for choosing a software product that the choice of a software product is carried out by a majority of parents and students of each particular school, that is, not one school director decides on the choice of a software product, but a large number of parents, which is almost impossible to bribe.

It will be necessary to win their trust and loyalty with a really good and high-quality product.

The voting procedure may look like this: the school holds a general meeting of parents of students (it is possible separately for elementary, middle and senior classes), at which they give the opportunity to make a presentation of their software product to all interested developers. The announcement of such a meeting is distributed through the students in advance. Any software developer can come to this meeting and advertise themselves. Within a month after such a meeting, parents must vote in writing for a particular product by sending voting sheets to the school through their children. The school administration should collect all the sheets and summarize the results. According to the results of the voting, one particular company begins to serve this school. And so – in all schools of the country.

As a result, there will be several players in this software product market who will start fighting for leadership. Gradually, each of these players will improve the software product, advertise themselves and acquire more and more new customers in the face of other schools. Each school will be able to change its operator at the end of the school year if another operator can convince most parents to switch to it.

This is a real competitive environment, and this is how digitalization in the field of education should have been organized.

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