Mission report: 24 may to 4 june, 2004: east asia learning achievement study: ssa/thla/2003/0000d984-0
MISSION REPORT: 5th to 23rd February, 2006: PAKE/2006/00000032 Purpose The purpose of this report is to provide a brief summary of my mission to Lahore during the period 5th to 23rd February, 2006 as part of the Punjab Examinations Commission project. My main duties during the mission were:
to continue working towards the establishment of the PEC;
to advise on operational matters such as setting up a data entry facility for
building the candidate registration database, arrangements for printing examination papers, arrangements for capture of markers’ sheets following the examinations, recruitment of IT staff for the Commission, recruitment of an Acting CEO, and appointment of the Governing Council;
briefing the IT staff on the computer systems needed to support the
assist subject specialist groups in the analysis and interpretation of pilot study
Establishment of PEC Several meetings were held with the Secretary (Education) and the Special Secretary (Schools) to brief them on progress with establishing the PEC and, in particular, the appointment of an Acting CEO and the Governing Council. It was decided that the Secretary (Education) would move urgently to appoint an Acting CEO on the basis that the appointee would not receive any preference over other candidates should he/she apply for the permanent post. It was also agreed that I would share the CTA function with Ted Redden. A copy of the broad plan for provision of CTA support is given at Attachment 1. It should be understood that both Ted and I stand ready to return to Lahore at short notice if the need arises and we can re-arrange our commitments to other UNICEF projects. It was also agreed that, in the light of the urgency attending many aspects of the establishment of the PEC and the implementation of its operational plans, the appointment of the Governing Council would be made after the completion of the grade 5 examinations this year. It was also noted that Jamil Najam had taken up his appointment as the Acting Operational Manager. Data Entry Facility The immediate need is for a facility that would have sufficient throughput capacity to process 1.2 million candidate registration/admission forms during a four week period in March, 2006. An ideal facility located in the Children’s’ Library was identified by the Special Secretary (Schools). The facility is comprised of 60 Windows desktop machines linked via a Windows LAN to a Windows fileserver, all located within one large room. This facility would have sufficient capacity to handle the candidate registration data entry workload in March, 2006 if it were to be operated three shifts a day, seven days a week. The Director of the Children’s’ Library agreed to make the facility available to PEC for the month of March for candidate registration data entry
and, if needed, for the month of May for data entry of markers’ sheets. On this understanding, plans were made to utilize that facility at least for the March data entry workload. However, at a meeting of the Board of the Children’s Library on the 20th February, 2006 a formal request for use of the facility was rejected; it is understood that the Board was concerned about the security implications of a 24 hour-a-day operation. Other options that were explored included the use of the PITE computer facility and the Punjab EMIS data entry room. However, the combined capacity of those facilities could handle only about 30% of the projected workload. Moreover, the operation would be spread over two locations which would pose considerable logistical difficulties. Subsequently, Jamil Najam suggested that the Punjab Government’s IT Department would have equipment available for that purpose and believes that by 24th February, 2006 he should be able to secure agreement to that proposal and, provided that data entry operators and shift supervisors are also available, data entry operations could commence on 1st March, 2006. It will be necessary to monitor very closely progress with this proposal. Data Entry Operators In order to accommodate the projected data entry workload it will be necessary to employ three shifts each of 60 operators – a total of 180 operators – prepared to work seven-days-a-week for four weeks in March. PMIU’s experience is that there are many experienced data entry operators available in the market for short term projects. However, there are obvious logistical difficulties involved in UNICEF employing 180 date entry operators each on a separate SSA. A better arrangement would be for UNICEF to negotiate an institutional contract with a local IT firm. I have spoken with Mr. Nazim, a representative of Future Soft the firm that carried out data entry for the pilot study; he assured me that Future Soft has substantial experience in entering education data and has the capacity to field quickly the required number of operators. Presumably there are other firms with a similar capacity. As a matter of urgency I recommend that quotations be sought from three firms asking for the supply of 180 experienced data entry operators to work on a three shift, seven-days-a-week basis during March, and a decision taken to contract the firm offering the most economic and effective arrangement. Shift Supervisors All operations at the data entry centre must be carried out under the control of a PEC/DPI officer acting as shift supervisor, who will be responsible for all aspects of shift operation. The whole process will be under the control of the Acting Operations Manager. Jamil Najam has undertaken to identify three appropriate persons who are currently in DPI and have the necessary skills and experience. Printing of Examination Papers The printing, bundling and distribution of examinations papers are huge tasks that must be accomplished within a compressed time frame. In total, the projected print
volume amounts to 35 million A4 pages that must be bundled into approximately 1000 packs, one for each examination centre. The Special Secretary (Schools) and Jamil Najam have investigated the option of the Government Printing Press carrying out the printing and bundling of papers. The Government Press, however, is not set up as a secure printing operation and Jamil Najam, in particular, has very strong reservations about the effectiveness of any security provisions that could be put in place for the duration of the print run. Indeed, he has expressed the view that leakage would occur within two hours of the Press receiving the papers. Additionally, the Government Press indicated that the unit cost of printing would be 0.75 rupees per page. This is much more costly than last year’s. The private presses that carried out the work last year could again be contracted. This has attractions because they carried out the work last year without any leakage. A third option is to engage a firm that would install equipment such as the RISO RZ 370 mini press or Ricoh JP 3000 digital duplicators in the Commission’s office, supply trained operators, paper and ink and offer a unit cost in the order of 0.40 rupees per page. This option has the decided merit of allowing the Commission to control the security of the printing operation and of gaining experience in operating an in-house press. If the Commission took up that option and found it effective and economic it could negotiate to purchase the equipment at a favourable price after the completion of the print run. Adoption of this option would depend on the Commission having its own secure premises in which to install and operate the equipment. I believe that this is by far the most attractive option and recommend that Jamil Najam seek firm quotations from at least three firms willing to enter into such an arrangement and that a decision be taken quickly to engage the firm offering the best package. Entry of Candidates’ Responses The examinations are conducted at examination centres and supervised by district invigilators. At the completion of each examination the invigilators batch the completed papers and send them under conditions of strict security to the cluster centre linked to that examination centre. At the cluster centre the papers are inspected by markers and every candidate’s score on each question is transcribed to markers’ sheet. On each marker’s sheet is a table with up to 45 columns (the number of columns varies from paper to paper) and up to 50 rows (one for each candidate). One sheet constitutes one batch of data. The markers’ sheets are then collected and sent under strict security to the data entry centre in Lahore. At the data entry centre in Lahore the data on the markers’ sheets must be entered into the Examinations database for subsequent analysis. This data capture can be carried out using data entry operators or it can be performed using flat-bed OCR scanners.
Now that the examination papers have been finalised the total volume of data to be captured can be calculated; this amounts to 350 million keystrokes. To accommodate this workload within a four week period would require an operation employing 100 data entry operators working three shifts-a-day, seven-days-week. The alternative approach of using OCR flat-bed scanners such as the Kodak i810 would enable the work to be completed within one week. The Kodak i810 scans black and white images at 45 pages per minute (ppm). The workload is 7.2 million written scripts recorded on marker’s sheets (one A4 page) with 50 scripts a sheet. This represents 144,000 pages to be scanned. Assuming 24 hour operation, the i810 could scan 64,800 pages a day, hence, the whole operation could be accomplished in two and a half days. The labour cost of entering 350 million keystrokes is approximately $60,000 (US) at the market rate of one rupee per 100 keystrokes. The capital cost of the i810 is of the order of $10,000 (US). Hence, the OCR scanner option is far less costly than manual data entry, even after allowing for the capital cost of the scanner. The equipment would also provide a capacity for scanning next year’s candidate registration forms, and in 2007 the combined candidature for grades 5 and 8 would approximate two million. This approach, however, may be objected to on the grounds of accuracy as compared with manual data entry. Such an objection would be compelling if it were based on high speed scanning of hand written alphabetic characters using low-end, desk top scanners that are engineered as a consumer durable item. However, the approach considered here relies on a high-end, flat-bed scanner that is engineered to deliver high levels of accuracy and high throughput rates. This kind of scanner is routinely used to scan financial documents, passports, custom declaration forms and passenger movement cards in many countries. In this regard, it should be noted that the markers will write only numerals on their sheets, not alphabetic characters. This is important because there are far fewer degrees of freedom involved in scanning numbers than alphabetic characters and, hence, higher levels of accuracy are achieved with the former than the latter. In contrast, data entry operators make many more errors when keying long lists of numbers than when entering alphabetic text such as name and address fields. This is because they anticipate the “next” character from the context of the material they are entering, which they cannot do with a meaningless stream of numbers. Having regard to these arguments, I strongly recommend that the Commission acquire an appropriate high speed, flat bed scanner and scan in the markers’ sheets. If this recommendation is accepted it will have to actioned quickly as the IT Section will have to thoroughly trial the equipment when implementing the software needed to validate the markers’ sheets data. Recruitment of IT Staff More than 200 applications were received for the two IT posts, ten of whom were called for interview. It was recommended that Zulfiqar Ali be offered the IT Manager/senior systems analyst post and Kashif Saeed the senior programmer post.
Both are very experienced IT professionals with sound records of achievement and solid hands-on knowledge of the software technologies that the Commission will employ. It is crucial that they take up their posts as soon as possible. I have briefed them on the software that needs to be constructed, tested and implemented over the next three months, and will maintain close contact with them during that time. Pilot Study The pilot study has been very successful, both in terms of developing final papers and building capacity in the subject specialist groups. Additionally, the pilot study has brought into clearer focus many of the problems that have been evident with the present curriculum documents; these matters are discussed in detail in Ted Redden’s mission report and are reflected in the planned CTA support for later in 2006. Software Specifications Work on specifying the software needed for processing candidate registration, markers’ sheets, and analysis and reporting of examination results commenced during my mission in November, 2005 and continued in Australia after my return. During my last mission, after analysing the pilot study data it became clear that we should report candidate performance using performance bands based on the distribution of question difficulty estimates as well as on distribution of candidate ability estimates. This has meant that I will need to specify additional reports at candidate, school, tehsil, district and province levels. I have commenced work on these report specifications and will forward them directly to the IT Section within the next two weeks. Acknowledgements Finally, I should like to acknowledge with gratitude the many forms of assistance rendered by UNICEF, DPI(Elementary) and PMIU. In particular, I should like to thank Maurice Robson, Deepak Baijrachary, Tariq Saeed, Ted Redden and Jamil Najam for their professionalism and commitment, and UNICEF for its hospitality. Dr Ken Vine 27th November, 2006
Appendix B NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH AND CLINICAL EXCELLENCE Health Technology Appraisal Lapatinib for breast cancer (First line use in advanced or metastatic hormone-sensitive breast Draft scope (Pre-referral) Draft remit/appraisal objective To appraise the clinical and cost effectiveness of lapatinib in combination with letrozole in the first-line treatment of a
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