Global Partnership for Education launches new public-private initiative to address the data challenge in global education

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Data solutions roundtable at GPE Financing Conference in Dakar. Credit: GPE/Heather Shuker

DAKAR, Senegal, February 1, 2018 – In an effort to help developing countries strengthen their collection, management and utilization of education data, high-level representatives from the private sector, international organizations, developing country governments and other partners are coming together at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference to launch a major new initiative called the Education Data Solutions Roundtable.

The initiative aims to improve developing countries’ capacity to gather accurate, comprehensive and timely data, which is essential to understand where improvements are needed in education systems and where progress is being made.

More and better data are essential to building effective and resilient education systems that deliver quality schooling at scale,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education.The data challenge is one of our most pressing priorities. Without the right information about the performance of their education systems, including data about the number of children in school and their learning progress, governments are essentially flying blind. That is why most of our grants fund country-level data improvements.”

The new public-private initiative recognizes that the business community, in partnership with other stakeholders in development, can offer innovative solutions, creative thinking and new technology that will drive improvements at community, regional, national and ultimately global levels. The initiative is part of the Global Partnership for Education’s knowledge and exchange work.

UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) is a central partner in the initiative.  It serves as  the statistical office of UNESCO and the primary UN repository for cross-nationally comparable statistics on education covering more than 200 countries and territories. 

The experience of the past two decades has confirmed that data, especially learning assessment data, is fundamental to effectively monitor the targets as a first step towards achieving SDG 4,” said Qian Tang, Assistant Director General for Education of UNESCO.

The Global Partnership for Education’s developing country partners are increasingly making good strides in collecting and reporting education data. Forty-three percent met GPE’s data reporting benchmark in 2016, up from 30 percent in 2015. But critical gaps remain as nearly one-third of GPE partner countries lack large-scale learning assessment systems.

The Education Data Solutions Roundtable will include between 15 and 20 members and will operate for 12 to 18 months as an advisory body to GPE on education data.

David Boutcher, a partner at Reed Smith, member of the Global Business Coalition for Education executive board, and the private sector representative on the GPE Board, facilitated today’s discussion with private sector leaders including:

  • Ade Ayeyemi, Group CEO of Ecobank
  • Angela Mwelu, Director, Business Development in Sub-Sahara Africa for MasterCard
  • Markus Schwertel, Government Relations Lead for Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa regions at HP Inc.
  • Brian Gonzalez, Global Head for Education at Intel
  • Mark East, Worldwide Manager for Education at Microsoft
  • Tendai Mashingaidze, CEO of Econet Education 

These private sector partners, which operate in both developed markets and developing country contexts, bring diversity of experience and particular expertise with education management information systems (or EMIS) software, hardware, data analytics and visualization, financial inclusion and education technology. 

Also part of today’s launch were Qian Tang, Assistant Director General for Education of UNESCO and Luis Beneviste, Education Practice Manager for the World Bank, which serves as a GPE grant agent in numerous countries.

The Global Partnership for Education’s Financing Conference is hosted by President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal and President Emmanuel Macron from the French Republic.

The Financing Conference is sponsored by: Ecobank, the Pan African Bank; Fondation Sonatel; and Altissia, and supported by Girls Not Brides; Global Campaign for Education; Global Citizen; Malala Fund; ONE; Plan International; RESULTS; and Women Deliver.

What private sector participants say:

Ade Ayeyemi, Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank

"The lack of timely and accurate data is a key impediment to the effective planning and delivery of a quality education. Ecobank is one of GPE’s private sector partners of choice for its Education Data Solutions Roundtable, that  seeks to develop digital solutions to facilitate more targeted investment in Africa's education systems."

Gus Schmedlen, Vice President of Worldwide Education at HP Inc.:

HP understands the priority of the education sector’s data challenge. If we don’t address it and work together to help developing countries strengthen their ability to manage on the basis of accurate, timely and verifiable data, we will collectively fail hundreds of millions of children and young people who deserve a quality education.”

Tendai Mashingaidze, Chief Executive Officer at Econet Education: 

The solution to the education data crisis at the grassroots lies in the ability to bring holistic cloud-based learning solutions that solve content, delivery and infrastructure issues while collecting data in the process. Econet is ready to work with various players interested in exploring cloud-based solutions, with the intention of implementing plug- and-play solutions to their current learning models.”    

Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President, Public Private Partnerships, Mastercard:

“We are in the midst of a growing data divide due to lack of access and know-how. The business community plays a critical role in bridging this divide. At Mastercard we are using our expertise to work with governments to help them manage and facilitate data driven decisions.”

Data solutions roundtable at GPE Financing Conference in Dakar. Credit: GPE/Heather Shuker

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