The promising role of integrated Human Resource Management Systems in Africa

19 April 2021


Adam Jan Figel /
A teacher and her students in a primary school class in Uganda.

Senegal, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire...several African Ministries of Education have set up an integrated Human Resources Management System (HRMS) to manage and monitor the deployment of teachers. Others are developing it, such as Burkina Faso with technical support from IIEP. While the level of progress and scope of these projects vary, HRMS platforms contribute to improving the quality of education. However, these Information Technology projects are complex, both at the technological and organizational levels.

Teacher management is usually the responsibility of several ministries. The ministry in charge of the civil service recruits them and manages their careers. The ministry of finance is responsible for their remuneration. Finally, the ministry of education is responsible for deploying staff throughout the country and managing mobility. While all these management processes are closely linked, the databases on which they depend are rarely interconnected.

As a result, information on teachers (grade, school of assignment, administrative status) is collected through several computer systems, which do not communicate with each other. This leads to manual re-entry and duplication of workload, thereby increasing the risk of errors and delays. According to IIEP Dakar, the rate of randomness in teacher allocation processes can be as high as 73% in sub-Saharan Africa. While there are many factors contributing to these malfunctions, they can be partly explained by the lack of integrated tools to inform decision-making. 

"With the expansion of schooling in Africa, teachers are a scarce resource. Controlling the teacher workforce is imperative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. These reflections are leading countries to equip themselves with high-performance tools. We are seeing a growing interest in HRMSs in ministries of education across Africa.”

Barbara Tournier, IIEP Researcher. 

What is an HRMS?

A Human Resources Management System is a computer platform that provides gateways between different systems or software. It automates information exchange mechanisms and issues alerts in the event of anomalies.

Thus, in the context of education, the simple fact of entering the act of recruitment, assignment or promotion of a teacher on the platform immediately updates the other databases. The system can also be configured to automatically request signatures or validations from the actors concerned. "A HRMS platform should be of service to all structures involved in teacher management processes. It is only if there is a win-win partnership that practices can evolve,” explains Khadim Sylla, an information systems expert at IIEP. However, this type of platform alone cannot solve all the ministries' human resources problems. "Information systems are only a reflection of organizational structures, procedures, and management processes," says Barbara Tournier. 

Up-to-date data: A prerequisite for equitable educational planning 

Overcrowded classrooms or less qualified teachers in rural areas: these problems related to the distribution of teachers are common to many countries on the continent. HRMS dashboards, based on reliable and up-to-date data, can identify and correct gaps and inconsistencies, and thus contribute to more equitable, inclusive, and better quality education. 

"The HRMS is a potentially powerful lever for updating data, tracking information, providing staff dashboards and decentralizing human resources management processes.”

Khadim Sylla, information systems expert at IIEP

A technological challenge

Taking the form of web-based applications, HRMSs allow human resource (HR) managers to have control over certain actions that are centralized within the Ministry, even if they are based in remote provinces. In countries where internet access is often limited, however, the adoption of such a web-based tool is not obvious. "The HRMS platform currently being developed in Burkina Faso will allow administrative officers to work offline, with an automatic data synchronization module when they access Wi-Fi or a connection key," explains Sylla. IIEP has also provided specific support to ensure the transfer of skills and capacity strengthening for the Ministry of Education's computer specialists and HR managers. 

Some of the functionalities provided for in the specifications of the future HR platform in Burkina Faso are inspired by the MIRADOR application, implemented in Senegal since 2014. It allows all teachers in the country to connect themselves to the platform from their smartphone, to monitor their administrative situation and carry out procedures, such as transfer requests. 

Support for Burkina Faso

IIEP provides technical support to the Ministry of National Education, Learning and Promotion of National Languages (MENAPLN). It began by formalizing human resource management processes and procedures and disseminating good practices at the decentralized level. This first stage was an essential prerequisite for the technical development of the HRMS, for which IIEP is currently providing support.