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Organising I.T. for better education

Jack Loo | Feb. 19, 2009
A focused effort to maximise efficiency, in planning and using IT resources, won Singapores Ministry of Education a prestigious MIS Asia IT Excellence award for 2008.

An example of reusable services implemented in the ministry is the Application Authentication Service. Users of any IT applications are authenticated against the same user database through this service.

The reuse of the existing infrastructure and common service helps to reduce system development cost and users are only required to remember one user-identification and one password. The service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach has also been adopted so that databases such as students information and business services such as computation of results can be shared and reused.

This approach helps the ministry to respond with agility to the regularly evolving education policies.

For example, when new schools were introduced with new syllabus, the systems affected were able to change within shorter timeframe.

One of the challenges in setting the governance framework, according to Lim, was to convince users to change their strategies and approaches to implementation.

Because they are looking at a silo-ed perspective, they are not looking at the enterprise perspective, said Lim. To me, as an IT director, I am governing the entire ministrys ICT portfolio. Therefore I have to make sure that every part works together in a very holistic manner, without duplication.

Lim also had to convince his own IT team members, who are working as consultants with various schools and education divisions, to bear in mind the EA concept. ….We have to convince them, and whenever they do a design of a system or the implementation of a system or development of a system, they always have to bear in mind the EA concept, all these are actually components available for their re-use, he says.

Constant improvements

Currently the whole framework programme has completed a major review. So now it is really to ensure compliance, as well as to see what difficulties and gaps are present, and to ensure the development is carried out, says Lim.

While a cost-benefit analysis of the entire framework is only due by 2010, Lim believes the programme is on the road to success.

More importantly, every project that comes our way will have to show tangible benefits. There must be a return on investment.

So if you ask me, today, I can largely tell you that all the projects provide tangible, positive benefits to MOE as an organisation. 


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