Calls for a data revolution are putting the spotlight on the importance of more and better data as a means to hold policymakers to account for post-2015 goals. In many ways, education has been at the forefront of approaches to measuring progress over the past 15 years. The influence of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) and the efforts of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in improving the availability of education data provide important lessons for tracking progress post-2015. This experience should play an important contribution to informing the practical next steps for the data revolution.
Building on this experience, a roundtable held at the Overseas Development Institute on 17 November brought together over 40 technical experts, who debated approaches to measuring progress towards post-2015 education targets, with a focus on learning and equity. The meeting coincided with the launch of consultation on post-2015 education indicators by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the EFA Steering Committee. As noted in the opening remarks on the data revolution by Neil Jackson, Chief Statistician at DFID, in many ways the education sector is leading the way in thinking about how to monitor post-2015 progress in concrete ways.
One of the problems that the GMR and UIS faced in tracking progress over the past 15 years was that indicators were not set at the time of deciding on education for all goals in 2000, hence the importance of the current consultation process. Another was that data have not been available a sufficiently disaggregated form to track progress on the most disadvantaged subgroups within each country, that is those most likely to be left behind. The GMR’s World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE), drawing on internationally-comparable household survey data, has been one step forward in presenting data in an accessible format to show that the poorest children living in rural areas, and often girls, are still far from completing primary school in many countries, and that many are also not learning the basics in reading and mathematics even if they have spent time in school.