Private sector takes action to address the education data challenge in developing countries

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and two companies announced new partnerships to collect and use data to improve education quality in developing countries:

  • Econet will focus on boosting capacity in information technology and data science with interested ministries in multiple countries. They will train Ministry of Education staff in data science, second data scientists to support Ministries’ work in gaining meaningful insights from data in remote areas where Econet provides satellite coverage.
  • Tableau will partner with education officials in the Gambia to develop pilot data visualization and analysis tools. They will provide company volunteers to work together with Ministry of Education staff.

GPE also announced two other major initiatives:

  • UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) will lead the development of usability and capability specifications for educational management information systems.
  • The University of Oslo will work with the Gambia’s Ministry of Education to pilot an education management information system (EMIS) in targeted districts to support data collection, analysis and decision making. The pilot is funded by NORAD.

The partnerships have been formed between GPE developing country partners and businesses through the work of the Education Data Solutions Roundtable (DRT). The DRT was a collaboration between developing country education officials, experts from the development community and technology leaders from the private sector.

Working together over the course of 15 months, the DRT members diagnosed and made recommendations to address three education data challenges: the need for better tools for education information management; the need for better data communication and visualization tools; and the need to integrate across different systems to produce holistic school and system-level information.

The announcement is accompanied by the release of the DRT outcomes report, which identifies top recommendations for improving education data systems. The new partnerships are the first steps in turning the report’s recommendations into action.

Today’s commitments deliver on a pledge made by DRT member companies in September 2018 to provide expertise and in-kind support to help develop solutions to global and national level education data challenges. To be transformative, any initiative to strengthen a country’s data systems must be country owned. GPE anticipates that additional public-private partnerships will be announced in the coming months.

The DRT tapped the enormous potential of the business community to co-create innovative solutions with other development stakeholders and drive improvements in education at community, regional, national and ultimately global levels.

The issues being addressed are pivotal. Quality data presented in user-friendly ways are critically important to delivering quality education—tracking student progress; assessing the efficacy of teachers, teaching methods and schools; measuring cost-effectiveness; and generally separating what works from what doesn’t. But most developing countries lack the systems and human resources to adequately collect, manage, analyze and disseminate data.

DRT recommendations

The DRT agreed on five overarching priorities:

  1. Establish data policy and protocols
  2. Boost human resources and develop data competencies
  3. Establish standardized identification systems for schools
  4. Define minimum functionalities for information management systems
  5. Stimulate demand for data


Read the report: Outcomes of the Education Data Solutions Roundtable

Learn more on the Education Solutions Data Roundtable


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