GPE and UNESCO work together to boost education data systems
GPE and UNESCO join forces to strengthen the capacity of ministries of education on EMIS in an effort to improve planning and monitoring activities and achieve better results.
November 14, 2017 by Karen Mundy, UNESCO Institute of Educational Planning, and Raphaelle Martinez, GPE Secretariat
7 minutes read
This 3-year old boy likely followed an older brother or sister into class, which should start at 4. Mnyimbi TuTu center in the North province, Zanzibar. Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud
This 3-year old boy likely followed an older brother or sister into class, which should start at 4. Mnyimbi TuTu center in the North province, Zanzibar.
Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud

GPE supports partner developing countries in setting up or enhancing their education management information systems (EMIS). A solid EMIS is core to a country’s capacity to produce and monitor education data.

A comprehensive EMIS is defined as not only including administrative and student data, but also financial, human resources, and learning data. The type of data entered into the system needs to follow logic, fixed methodology, and have a well-defined purpose.

EMIS should provide systematic and quality data for tracking changes, and timely reporting of essential information for educational planning and management and policy dialogue. In short, an EMIS is vital to achieve a stronger education system and for policy makers to make informed decisions, and design and monitor transformative sector reforms.

Joining forces to improve EMIS, working as a partnership

To tackle some of the existing shortcomings in data quality and collection in partner countries, the GPE Secretariat has convened a task force on EMIS with several international development agencies that support these systems. The task force comprises: ADEA, AFD, ECW, DFID, DFAT, UNESCO including its institutes IIEP and UIS, UNICEF, UNHCR, and the World Bank.

The task force represents a short-term platform for institutional collaboration and technical dialogue around EMIS to identify gaps and potential duplication in the technical and financial support provided to EMIS, and work to identify areas that need improved complementarity and synergy.

International EMIS conference planned for April 2018

Recently, UNESCO and GPE entered into a contractual agreement to collaborate on EMIS. The agreement is titled: Implementing SDG 4 - Education 2030: What Role for EMIS? Supporting the strengthening of Education Management Information Systems at Country Level.

Through the task force, GPE and UNESCO are working together on ways to strengthen the capacity of ministries of education on EMIS. The goal is to build the evidence base around how best to develop and/or upgrade a robust and sustainable EMIS, so that a ministry of education is able to produce timely and quality education and financial data.

Through this partnership, the two organizations will take stock of the role that EMIS plays in educational development, particularly in the wake of SDG4, the challenges that developing countries face in relation to deploying an EMIS, and the policy lessons that can be learned from successful country experiences. A key principle underpinning the agreement is to ensure responsiveness to EMIS priorities identified at country level.

An initial background paper, based on a literature review and a developing country survey on EMIS-related needs and challenges, will be discussed at an international conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris (gathering about 20 developing countries and international cooperation actors). The EMIS Task Force will play a key role in providing inputs and support to the conference proceedings. 

The final conference publication, based on the background paper but also documenting lessons learned and shared during the conference, is expected to contribute to improvements in the quality and mobilization of data, and promote dialogue on how to best approach strengthening country capacity to assess, implement, and monitor education systems.

New funding window supports research and knowledge

Moving forward, the GPE Secretariat will continue to work with its partners to increase the breadth of knowledge around EMIS by taking stock of members’ experiences, and by undertaking joint studies and other activities.

Additionally, GPE and its partners will work to identify joint activities around EMIS through the new GPE initiative  Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) . In that way, partner countries will have opportunities to improve their data capacity and ensure reliable data for a strengthened education system.

GPE tracks progress in partner countries

Many countries have limited capacity to help analyze the causes linked to poor performance in their education systems, particularly in the three priority areas: equity, efficiency, and learning.

The GPE Results Framework, linked to GPE’s Strategic Plan, measures progress towards these objectives by evaluating the proportion of partner countries with a data strategy that meets quality standards (and those with a learning assessment system within the basic education cycle that meets quality standards).

As noted in the GPE Results Report 2015/2016, all countries that applied for education sector program implementation grants from GPE in 2016 met the data strategy indicator, i.e. they either already report a selection of key education data to UIS, or if they don’t, they included in their application a strategy to improve their EMIS capacity. This requirement for accessing funding reinforces GPE’s commitment to ensuring quality, sustainable EMIS and a solid evidence base as the cornerstone of stronger education systems.

A robust EMIS is a prerequisite for effective and evidence-based sector planning and policy dialogue, and for national and global level reporting towards SDG 4 progress. This is why GPE and its partners will continue to focus on improving partner countries’ data capacity, leading to enhanced planning and monitoring, and better results.

For more information on the upcoming conference, please email

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