New policies and guidelines based on data
In this context, the Department of Planning and Policy (DPP) in the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) worked with Fab Inc. to develop a new policy on school infrastructure and catchment area planning, as well as guidelines to implement the policy and a data-driven online tool.
Sierra Leone has made substantial investments in education planning and policy reforms in recent years, and the DPP is working to merge school census data from 2015 to 2021 into one secure database. With the data stored centrally, including school-level data over time, the DPP can integrate it into the policy development process and education plans.
Data can significantly improve decision-making and allow for prioritizing interventions to benefit the most vulnerable populations. For example, where schools are prone to flooding and accessibility challenges, the data allows for targeting, scalable support to improve planning.
In 2021, the MBSSE, supported by Fab Inc., led policy development to define the planning for expansion and renovation of school spaces and to determine which schools would be approved and prioritized for support, guided by the data.
This culminated, after extensive consultation with stakeholders, in the approval of a new policy for catchment planning (with the policy guidelines forthcoming), and policy guidelines for school approvals.
The Policy for School Infrastructure and Catchment Area Planning is transformative and will underpin the pathway to expanding access for all. As many school construction projects in Sierra Leone are started by communities, there was a need for a clear pathway into the approved government system – so DPP and Fab Inc. worked on policy guidelines on how schools are to be approved to receive funding.
Both the catchment planning policy and approvals policy guidelines share a common theme – a desire to power infrastructure decisions through analysis using locally owned data, available in real time. The team developed a web-based data tool managed by the MBSSE Directorate of Planning and Policy.