Industry Thought Leadership

Institutionalizing Digital Education Ecosystem Development in Developing Countries

September, 2023
Gabriel Levi
Founder & CEO

Kundalik International

Digital technologies for the academic sphere are currently among the most important areas of discussion and policy dialogue, as regional economies strive to achieve national digital transformation and sustainable development goals. Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has tested both private-sector and government-sector processes across multiple areas and sectors, various fragilities within the education sector have been particularly exposed, now critically requiring the support of digital technologies, systemic innovations, as well as policies and processes.

The experience of countries that demonstrate the highest results in the field of school education shows that, at present, it is impossible to prepare children for modern life according to the high standards without the use of technology. For example, the digital tools in the Finnish schools help the students develop various skills that will allow them to be the competitive and strong players at work and in the society. Such skills include critical thinking, creativity, ability to single out the most important information from a large data flow and use it correctly, teamwork skills, ability to understand the basics of equipment operation and interfaces, etc.

Education across countries needs to be more focused on fostering independent work of children as a part of research activities and collaborative projects, to which they are motivated by the digital technologies. To ensure successful functioning of a constantly improving and self-sustaining educational system, the teachers must be equipped with a good understanding of the principles and mechanisms of digital learning tools, and relevant government departments should have comprehensive statistics and analytical tools to monitor and manage the education system.

The Case of Uzbekistan

In the Republic of Uzbekistan, in order to digitalize the school education process, improve the computer competence of teachers, eliminate the digital inequality and improve the quality of education in general, in August, 2018 the Ministry of Public Education announced the selection of companies for cooperation in the form of a public and private partnership. From among 20 applications, the experts selected the Kundalik solution. With over 15 years of experience in digital transformation of education and government institutions, Kundalik International is the operator and private partner for digitalization of education in several CIS countries with more than 59 thousand schools connected & 30 million users registered.

As a result, a public and private partnership agreement was signed between the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Kundalik in order to develop a state digital educational ecosystem. The public and private partnership is an equal cooperation between the state and private business as a part of which the state saves budgetary funds and implements various projects that could not be implemented without any private investments.

“One of the main objectives of the Ministry of Public Education is to develop comfortable work conditions for the teachers. While using up-to-date technologies, we want to significantly reduce the paperwork in schools and the related burden on the teachers. Moreover, we will create a tool for managing the educational process and generating objective reports relating to the students’ attendance and academic performance”, said H.E. Mr. Sarvar Babakhodzhaev, then Deputy Minister of Public Education of Uzbekistan.

The developed ecosystem provides digital tools for all members of the educational process. For teachers, this is an electronic journal and a homework diary for keeping records relating to the attendance/academic progress and other reports in digital format, distance learning tools, communication services with the students and parents. The parents can get quick access to the important information about the academic process and success of their children. The students, regardless of their location, can obtain equal access to the educational content that contributes to the digital equality and increase in the academic level in the country. The government authorities have quick access to up-to-date information relating to the education system condition, required reporting and analytics for informed management.

The first platform implementation was commenced in the schools in Tashkent. Currently, Kundalik has been implemented in all regions of Uzbekistan. In total, the platform is used by more than 10 thousand schools in the country. In 2022/2023 academic year, 244 million lessons have been conducted in the schools in Uzbekistan with the help of Kundalik, 2 billion grades have been issued.

To work with the platform, the person can use any device with an Internet connection, such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. The website is located in the TAS-IX zone, and Internet traffic (including with the help of mobile operators) is not consumed during the platform operation time.

A mobile application has also been developed for the teachers. This app allows to work without an Internet connection. Kundalik facilitates the work process and saves time of the teachers that can be usefully spent on the creative or additional development of students, or personal professional development. The reports are generated in an automatic mode, the grades are entered into the class-book during the lesson in a couple of minutes. It is also possible to write messages to the parents relating to the student’s behavior. There is no need to take a roll call, carry around heavy paper class-books or wait for another teacher to return the class-book.

In April 2021, Kundalik together with a partner launched a project to develop a multi-service online platform for supplementary mastering of disciplines as a part of the school curriculum. The project includes a design tool, a catalogue of academic applications that are grouped by the disciplines, classes or contents of textbooks included in the republican list. Moreover, the platform provides the distance learning services, motivation and gamification tools. The digital profile of a student demonstrates information relating to the diplomas, medals, or achievements.

At present, the teacher can develop own digital lesson, complete it with video or audio materials, test assignments and provide it as a homework through the Lessons Planning section in Kundalik. If necessary, the lesson can be bound to a textbook or an official syllabus for the discipline. When submitting a lesson as a homework, the teacher can set up the competition parameters and choose the presentation form. Thus, the senior classes can take a lesson in the messenger format, and the younger students can study in the form of an interactive game.

“When I completed the online training conducted by the Kundalik supervisors, the platform operating principle became clear, and I decided to help all teachers, show them how to develop and import the lesson plans, issue the grades for school terms and examinations, indicate the class attendance and absenteeism for no reason. Based on the work experience as an administrator, I can say that Kundalik improves the quality of educational process, saves time that has been previously spent on paperwork, helps the teacher prepare video lessons, and also makes the student assessment system transparent”,, said Mr. Zhasurbek Makhmudov, a teacher of mathematics at the State Specialized Boarding School No. 7 of the Chustskiy district in the Namangan region.

A mobile application Kundalik.Family has been developed for the parents and students. In addition to the standard options of a digital diary and a learning platform, the application provides very useful additional tools: a GPS tracker that helps determine the child’s location, a rating in a class and detailed analysis of performance for various disciplines, an average grade, etc.

The application helps the students to use all the diary options, send their homework and files with completed creative tasks, view the curriculum, and schedule their day independently. It is also possible to send the homework in the application through the parent's profile that is especially useful for those families that have one smartphone to work with the platform. A motivational tracker in the Diary tab will inspire and encourage the students to complete their tasks and assignments faster.

The project is completely funded by Kundalik's own resources. The state does not spend the budget for software development, operation and maintenance, introduction of the system into the schools. Transition to the digital document management in the schools allows the state to save on purchase of paper class-books, since there is no need for them.

Moreover, the saved public funds can be used to equip the schools with computers and the Internet. Thus, on April 28, 2020, a decree of the President of Uzbekistan was signed, according to which all healthcare institutions, schools, preschool educational institutions should be connected to the high-speed Internet network in 2020-2021. In February 2020, to solve issues with the technical equipment of schools, a pilot project of the Ministry of Public Education of Uzbekistan was also launched to provide the tablets and laptops to the teachers by installments on preferential terms.

The project demonstrated its particular efficiency during the pandemic.

“Despite the fact that the children are at home, we must start the 4th academic term at schools,” said H.E. Mr. Sherzod Shermatov, then Minister of Public Education of Uzbekistan.

The Ministry of Public Education, together with the National Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan, arranged the broadcasting of video lessons on the TV channels in accordance with the curriculum. The video lessons were also posted on the website of the Kundalik digital academic platform.

During this period that was so difficult for the country and the entire world, the Kundalik platform helped to provide the distance learning services. This system allowed the teachers to issue homework and learning materials, and the students could send their completed works for check and verification. As a result, the teachers issued grades in the digital class-book or gave comments on finalizing the answers.

It is noteworthy that due to the technology introduction in the field of education this industry has recovered faster than others after the pandemic in Uzbekistan. In January-May 2021, the growth rate of academic services in Uzbekistan turned out to be the highest and amounted to 145.2%. The rental and leasing services only were ahead of this indicator - 146.9%. Moreover, the level of educational services has recovered most quickly after the strict quarantine measures in 2020.

According to the research results, the children successfully studied, demonstrated more motivation and independence when doing their homework and classwork using the digital diary, even during the pandemic. Kundalik contributes to the improvement of school performance and attendance rates. The children are more actively involved in the educational process.

10, 000 parents of Uzbek schoolchildren took part in a survey where they told about their attitude toward academic digitalization and to the Kundalik digital homework diary. More than 67% interviewees responded that they had positive emotions about the abolition of paper homework diaries and transition to the digital ones, 22% persons were against such an innovation and 12% responders still found it difficult to give an answer.

According to 86% of parents, the most convenient thing in a digital homework diary is that at any time and in any place the parents can have a look at the exact schedule, grades, tasks and attendance of the child. All parents believe that such approach increases the interest of children in learning.

The majority of parents (61%) look through the grades in the digital homework diary together with their children. They believe that the child feels more attention from the parents and strives for the better results.

Benefits of digitalization of the education system are clear: it helps to prepare a unified standard in all schools in the country, eliminate the digital inequality and find an individual approach to each child. The state can obtain the necessary data for analytics and management, provide the children with useful content for their development, and provide the parents with convenient services and involve them in the education process of their children. It also instills digital literacy in the citizens.

No digital transformation of the economy is possible without the digitalization of education. Our kids today are the future of every country, they are the force that will be driving our countries forward. That’s why school education should be digitized so that hundreds of millions of people could get all the benefits that come with technology.