How do we know what drives learning in schools that perform well? How can we tailor support for young girls and boys who are at risk of dropping out? How do we allocate limited resources efficiently? These are some of the questions that many GPE partner countries have and that GPE is helping them to answer.
Systemic approach to understand the problem
A common challenge among GPE partner countries in improving learning is access to real time data and evidence to inform decision-making such as resource allocation, or teacher training needs. Driven by this need to help countries improve learning, GPE is piloting a new partnership approach to bring direct capacity building and technical assistance around monitoring, evaluation and learning of the education sector.
The Eastern Caribbean islands of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, GPE partner countries, have made great strides over the years to produce quality education data at national and regional levels.
For example, the annual school census collects data in this region through a standardized questionnaire that harmonizes education data in the 9 Member States of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The data is then published in a national statistical digest and compiled into a regional digest.
There is also a community of practice for statisticians in the 9 Member States that meets annually to exchange best practices and access additional support.
While a range of data is collected on student, teacher, and school dimensions through the school census, the data unfortunately is static and is only available at the centralized level. This means that the data can only be accessed through the national statistical digest once it is published thus limiting the ways in which it can be used.
Furthermore, data collected by the school census is not integrated with other datasets that is available at the central or district levels, as there are no unique identifiers for students, teachers, or schools to link the information. This inability to share data across units of the ministry and levels of the education system (central-district-schools), also means that efforts are being duplicated to collect the same data, thus overburdening schools and central units who already have a limited bandwidth.
Though all Member States are at different stages of developing their monitoring and evaluation (MEL) systems for their education systems, ministries envision moving to a data management system that is automated, integrated, with real-time data that can be easily accessed by the various users that need it for different purposes such as facilitating planning, management, service delivery and ultimately to improve equity and learning for all students easily.
The GPE-supported program known as the OECS Program for Educational Advancement and Relevant Learning (PEARL), implemented by the OECS Commission, is a step in this direction.