Session Submission Summary

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A global research on the use of open school data, for more sustainable ways to administer educational services, to manage schools and involve community stakeholders

Tue, April 16, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific G

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


How is the topic relevant to comparative and international education, sustainability, or a SIG?

This panel will bring together researchers of an IIEP global comparative study, to discuss and share information on open school data initiatives in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The discussions will bring to the forefront key policy options to facilitate access to more reliable and effective educational data to improve service delivery and reduce corruption in the sector.

The panel will rely on the major outcomes of an IIEP research project on open school data conducted in particular in Australia, Malawi and Pakistan, and two regional state-of-the-art papers on Africa and Latin America.

All the cases studied have in common that they explore formulas to disseminate information about schools and, from there, involve educational communities and society in general to demand better results, to participate in decision-making and in the operation of solutions, and to demand consequences when the expected results are not being achieved.

No future is sustainable without social and community involvement. These cases are examples of systematic efforts to inform society, particularly educational communities, about what is happening in schools and to ensure that those responsible for school education take into account the needs and requests of communities when making decisions.

In these examples, everyone has a role to play: authorities, parents, the community, organized civil organizations, the media and technology.
Because there is no doubt that education is a right, guaranteeing that it occurs in the best possible conditions, that it is inclusive, accessible and of good quality for all, means making more efficient use of the resources allocated to education in each country. Getting communities involved to monitor the best use of resources, to demand the best results and to denounce when this is not the case, guarantees a more sustainable way of administering educational services and managing schools.

What is the need or the problem that the program or intervention tries to address?

Public access to information is widely accepted as one of the most efficient means of achieving better transparency and accountability in education. It enables education authorities to monitor educational progress and outcomes and detect any bottlenecks or malpractices in the system. This can also help identify what types of measures need to be taken to improve overall service delivery.

In this context, more and more governments and civil society organizations are using a tool known as school report cards to share school-level information. They can cover many aspects of the school environment from student enrolment and achievement, funding, teacher qualifications and pupil-teacher ratios, school facility conditions, to materials such as textbooks. The information can enable the school community – and specifically parents – to verify if the school has received all of the services and resources it was entitled to.

Participants will explore issues such as what are the most critical data for improving transparency and revealing corruption, and how can the reliability of information be ensured. They will also look at the concrete actions required to ensure that data have a real impact on accountability once they are made public.
Finally, they will examine the role played by different stakeholders at strategies deployed and the achieved results.

Discussions will focus on policy options to support access to more reliable, usable and effective data; as well as different models of social involvement to be considered with a view to build more sustainable ways to administer educational services and manage schools, under local, regional or national supervision.

What advice do you offer or do you seek at CIES, and how can it address similar challenges elsewhere?

To think about together

While we found very solid and interesting learnings, we also come across to some common challenges to ask advice for:

- How to identify where decisions are being made at different school system levels, considering the diversity of government displays;
- How to foster an open attitude from civil servants and government representatives, allowing social participation, transparency and accountability in education, and establishing conditions to do it more effectively;
- How to engage parents in an effective way.

To share with CIES

Considering the fact it took two years, and several consultants to bring up this research, and taking into account the IIEP – and coordinator’s personal – experience in conducting this kind of projects, we can share our inputs on:

- How to conduct a worldwide research (Asia, Africa, Pacific, and Latin America);
- How to overcome difficulties and ensure gratifications;
- How to take into account particularities but at the same time preserve focus and coherence between all the researchers (and hence, papers).

What would you have done differently, knowing what you know now about the project or program?

Further research could look into the impact of sharing data of public schools vs data of private schools, and the impact of that accountability mechanism on quality of public schools.

What was the impact of the project on the problem it targeted? How was the project’s impact assessed?

Every experience documented has proved to be successful on its own and altogether provided policy options to address a wide range of challenges on using open school data to improve service delivery and reduce corruption in the sector.

At each case, we explored strengths and weaknesses concerning the way communities are being involved, the way they are listened, and assessed the impact those experiences have had on better decision making, better educational outcomes and better use of resources.

As it is a global research, whose findings are going to be published end of 2018/beginning of 2019, at this stage we have no measured impact about the overall project itself.

Participating in the CIIES panel will be four discussants and a chair: researchers of three case studies at Pakistan, Australia, and Malawi, one state of the art in Latin America, and the global project coordinator. We present those summaries as follows.

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