At the start of the pandemic, almost all countries closed their schools in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. While schools were still closed in more than 40 GPE partner countries in July 2020, at least 26 countries have reopened schools or are in the process of reopening. Many more have announced reopening dates.
The Framework for reopening schools - a joint effort by UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank and the World Food Programme - provides guiding questions and tips to help policymakers design and implement school reopening plans that promotes safe operations, improved learning, and the inclusion of the most marginalized.
The framework recommends that country partners collect new data to understand “how schools, teachers, students and communities are coping with closures and the pandemic”. Collecting new data will allow policymakers, development partners and civil society organizations to understand in real-time how the COVID-19 crisis had an impact on the education system, and whether pre-conditions for reopening are met.
Data are already available within education ministries
While new data are being collected, ministries of education are sitting on a large set of administrative data that can be mobilized right now for analyzing the situation or for developing context-appropriate approaches to school reopening.
In most GPE partner countries, ministries of education regularly collect and disseminate administrative data on students and schools, including human, physical, pedagogical and financial resources. This information is usually collected through an annual school census, which constitutes – in most countries - the backbone of an education management information system (EMIS).
This blog will illustrate ways in which administrative data can support crisis management, and provide practical examples on how data has the potential to help partner country governments better understand the possible effects of the pandemic on their education system and design appropriate responses.