In 2015, the international community agreed on Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), which now forms the universal education agenda to 2030. Many countries still have a far way to go to reach these targets, and to do this, they will need external support to overhaul their education systems. There are two dimensions at stake to achieve SDG 4: identification of policy priorities and the associated data availability and quality to monitor progress.
One example described in this blog is the effort of UNESCO’s Education Sector unit and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in implementing a SDG 4 pilot initiative in ten countries as part of the UNESCO Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Program. The SDG 4 pilot initiative is an ambitious and innovative initiative aimed to help bridge the gap between national education policies and data collection and use.
CapED supports countries in their efforts to develop national capacities to integrate SDG 4 commitments into national education policy and management.
The first component of the pilot initiative, which reviewed national plans and policies in light of SDG 4 commitments has been completed. Now, the second component, which focuses on strengthening national capacities to improve monitoring progress on SDG 4, is ready to be rolled-out.
The ten pilot countries are: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal and Senegal. All of them with the exception of Myanmar are also partner countries of the Global Partnership for Education.
Training materials and tools
Training materials and tools developed in the preparation phase of the SDG 4 pilot initiative include:
- A methodological definition of the global and thematic indicators for the SDG 4–Education 2030 agenda. This resource contains UIS-developed metadata and methodological definitions of the proposed global and thematic indicators for education.
- Tools to assess the availability and quality of the data to monitor progress. These tools will help countries to pinpoint data gaps and areas for improvement and, in turn, help to shape an action plan. The three tools are :
- A template to report on data sources and possibilities of disaggregation;
- A set of frameworks (DQAF) to assess the quality of different data sources (administrative data, expenditure data (private and public), household survey data and learning assessment data); and
- Guidance to improve processes with a focus on good practices in learning assessments and household surveys to guide efforts and resource allocations.
- Guidance on how to build an overall educational data strategy: The National Strategy for the Development of Education Statistics (NSDES) is a policy design instrument that embeds the vision of a strengthened education data system for the country. The NSDES will enable country-level stakeholders to prepare more efficiently and effectively a medium-term capacity development programme plan, ensuring an emphasis on results based on a careful assessment of possibilities including funding.
Building country ownership: Learning by doing together
The CapED SDG 4 pilot initiative follows a ‘learning by doing' process that uses simple, flexible tools that can be adapted to specific contexts. A participatory process to build consensus is the necessary next phase, which will see national teams being trained to use the tools during the second semester of 2017.
This training will prepare the ground for the final recommendation phase, which will enable national teams to prepare action plans for capacity development and roadmaps (such as their NSDES). A knowledge-sharing mechanism, namely a dedicated National Expert Group on Education Data (NEGED), will be established in all participating countries as a space for dialogue between government and partners to improve support, avoid duplication of effort and reduce transaction costs.
Priorities differ from country to country and thus the NEGED serves as an important tool to align national and international needs.
The focus of the NEGED in Madagascar, for example is on improving age-related data to better evaluate whether children are starting basic schooling on time and making the transition to higher grades and levels. The country has also identified pressing needs for more data on early school leaving and second-chance or remedial programmes, on technical and vocational education and training, and on higher education.
The first training sessions will take place in Cambodia from July 31 to August4, 2017 and in Mozambique on August 7-8, 2017, followed by sessions in the other eight countries.
The CapED SDG 4 pilot initiative will set the tone of working with, rather than against, national contexts and builds on UIS’ experience of working collaboratively with national actors on data gathering and analysis.