If you aren’t already aware of the SA-SAMS / Lurits debacle, here is what we found out. We realize how important this is for schools and how confusing it is too. We found the following on Principal Software’s website.
Note: We have updated this article with two new sections of content with input from FEDSAS and Staffroom.
Lots of views and discussions have been held regarding this. Without getting into too much detail, we are of the opinion that the policymakers are confusing the terms SAMS and SA-SAMS throughout the Education Sector. There is a distinct difference between these two terminologies.
SAMS = School Administration Management System (Government Gazette No 38223) – thus so-called Third Party Service providers.
SA-SAMS = South African School Administration Management System – The SAMS provided by Government.
All policy and legal reference are referred to as SAMS. Please read carefully- NOT SA-SAMS! The intention of policymakers was to create a “data warehouse” for data mining by relevant role players – this was called Lurits. All SAMS (Third Parties and SA-SAMS) need to comply with these principles.
Three years after originally posting this content we connected with Riaan van Der Bergh, Education Technology Manager at FEDSAS. He says there is still confusion in the education space.
He explains that the CEM (Council of Education Ministers – MEC’s from all provinces) took a decision that SA-SAMS is the single source for reporting which has caused confusion. This does not prescribe the use of SA-SAMS but rather the reporting format, content and structure of the data to be reported. We should not confuse the need for data in the SA-SAMS format with the use of SA-SAMS to produce the format. A school has a legal obligation to be compliant in their reporting but SA-SAMS, as a system, is not legally enforceable.
He simplifies this further by saying SA-SAMS as a collective noun means one of three of the following:
- The tool to be used by schools as an operational system to help manage the school (Also referred to as a SAMS – School administration management system). This could be called the “typewriter” on which work is done.
- The Data structure to mirror when reporting data to the Department at various levels. This is the FORMAT in which the reporting should take place. This can be called the “letter or report” produced by the typist on any typewriter in a specific format and with specific content.
- The collection of individual schools’ data stored in the data warehouse now in existence in all provinces, except for Western Cape. This could be called the “file” in which all reports are now being housed in order to mine the data on a collective basis. Specification of format and requirements for content is thus crucial in order to have a global view of aggregated data.
He concluded his update to say that the discussion around data should morph from mere compliance reporting to the Department with no perceived value to the schools to the value of data for day to day management and improvement of the local school.
If you would like more info on how FEDSAS can help your school around the full spectrum of technology in education you can visit fedsastech.org.za or contact Riaan at firstname.lastname@example.org. [Riaan is also the independent chairperson of the Education Data Forum (EDF) which is a forum for various Third Party suppliers (https://www.fedsas.org.za/Technology/20114/)]
What the experts say about SA-SAMS
In the Fedsas National Newsletter 4 of 2015 dated 19, October 2015 a statement regarding the use of SA-SAMS at schools was published.
It has come to our attention that certain provincial departmental officials are informing schools that the use of SA-SAMS, as the school’s information system, is compulsory. This is however not the case.
Section 20(1)(g) of the South-African Schools Act states that the school governing body must administer and control the school’s property, and buildings and grounds occupied by the school, including school hostels, but the exercise of this power must not in any manner interfere with or otherwise hamper the implementation of a decision made by the Member of the Executive Council or Head of Department in terms of any law or policy.
All data, statistics, and information about the school form part of the school’s property and the governing body must administer it which inevitably also means that the governing body can decide which system it will use to control and administer the information.
Furthermore, section 59 of the Schools Act deals with the school’s duty to provide information. Section 59(2) determines that “Every school must provide such information about the school as is reasonably required by the Head of Department or the Director-General of the national Department of Education in consultation with the Head of Department.” The Schools Act does not prescribe the manner or system through which information must be submitted.
According to the National Education Information Policy, the information systems in departmental offices, schools and other institutions do not need to be part of a single product, but they should be unified by common design and data standards, making the interaction between systems possible (paragraph 9 – own emphasis added).
*It is clear from the above that school governing bodies can decide whether or not to use SA-SAMS or to make use of another system.
In the SATU newsletter Blitz 15/2016: 24/02/2016 the Union advised the following regarding the use of Third Party Software:“Principals are advised to discuss the content of the circular with the SGB of the school and if the decision is to use another system (not SA-SAMS) it should be minuted, to protect the principal.”
[Updated Content] Here is what Staffroom has to say about using SA-SAMS
It is key that your SAMS (school management) system simply and easily integrates with SA-SAMS. We integrate by exporting a school’s data from Staffroom into the latest version of the SA-SAMS database. Schools can download the database and use it in various ways including validating with the Valistractor, accessing it using SA-SAMS, uploading it to the DDD or handing it to the department to meet reporting requirements.
Staffroom also includes its own set of validation tools to help schools check their data is complete before it is exported. We’re also actively working with provincial departments to try to make the process of submitting SA-SAMS data easier in future.
Staffroom is an easy to use, empowering, and feature-rich platform designed through close collaboration with our client schools. Features include centralized and easily accessible records, powerful and flexible assessment, behaviour policy automation, attendance tracking, email and SMS communication, student and parent portals, timetabling and calendaring, integrations with Karri, Google Classroom and Moodle, and much much more.
It’s not just about the software; we provide comprehensive onboarding to get schools up and running fast and unlimited ongoing support to keep them running smoothly.
[Editor note – Staffroom is one of SchoolAdvisor’s top-rated school admin systems that can be seen by their reviews. You can view their reviews here and find out why we can recommend their service].
If you would like more info on Staffroom, drop your details below and they will be in contact.