ADEA roots for improved data use among member states at UNESCO UIS Conference on Education Data and Statistics

The Conference on Education Data and Statistics held in Paris between 7th – 9th February has come and gone, but our core message continues to reverberate. ADEA’s Executive Secretary, Albert Nsengiyumva, was a panelist on the third day of this global event organized by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), where regional bodies interrogated the best approaches to work together to improve the use of education and skills data and statistics for evidence-based decision-making and how to support member countries to improve the collection of relevant data to track progress against global education goals.  

Albert highlighted how ADEA has worked with African Member States through the life of the various frameworks and milestones – such as the Dakar 2000 Framework of Action on Education for All (EFA), the African Union (AU) Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa 2006 -2015, and now the Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016 – 2025 (CESA 16 - 25) – in improving Member States’ ability to collect and manage quality data on education, and report on key indicators used to track progress of national, regional, continental and global frameworks working with various partners such as UIS.

ADEA has continued to grow awareness – through our high-level policy engagements with member states – on the importance of making available quality data on education and skills – and the consequences of making decisions that are not evidence-based and well-informed, when it comes to planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.

We have equally undertaken, over the years, surveys on education and skills data priority needs of African Member States and used the results to develop strategies for capacity building in education management information systems (EMIS) as well as EMIS modules and other tools that we have used to build the capacity of planners, statisticians, and ICT officers in Ministries of Education in the data value chain, resulting in improved reporting from the national to the global level.

ADEA has worked with countries, regional economic communities, and AU to produce regional EMIS Norms and Standards. These have been used to undertake EMIS peer reviews in over 10 African countries, resulting in the development of roadmaps for improving national EMIS, from policy to implementation – an example of this is The Gambia, with whom we recently worked to develop their National EMIS Policy. 

A new initiative, supported by the Mastercard Foundation Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL), is underway, underscoring our ambition and desire to support African Member States further strengthen their capacity to use quality education data to track key priority areas of their choice and contribute meaningfully to addressing their developmental goals and those beyond the countries. The “Tackling the Education and Skills Data Challenge in Africa” will leverage education technology (EdTech) to build the capacity of up to 30 African Member States – over a period of 5 years – to collect, analyze, report, and utilize quality education and skills data to inform decision making in Ministries of Education and other key national stakeholders.

ADEA’s new Strategic Plan 2023 – 2027 has a strong data pillar, as the data challenge continues to come through in the studies we conduct and in our engagement with African Member States. This pillar will anchor our future interventions in this area.

To improve coordination around national, regional, continental, and global education agenda on the SDG 4 benchmarks, Albert posited that ADEA continues to promote the need to collaborate in mutual partnership. For this to happen, certain conditions or requirements were necessary. According to him:

‘First, is having a common vision and agenda – from the perspective of the Member States and not the partners. Let Member States take lead and we as partners support them to achieve their vision. Second, is to avoid fragmented interventions that promote islands of success but with limited scaled impact. It makes sense to consolidate our efforts and resources and engage the Member States with one voice. Third, the collaboration needs to have a strong sustainability element embedded therein – so that we transition our interventions from project level to system level…and weaning ourselves off so that, through their education sector plans, Member States can take over. Lastly, we need to strengthen existing structures – e.g. those within the partners, and the RECs in the case of Africa, so that there is a strong bridge between national-level interventions and regional, continental, and global agendas on education.’

ADEA’s outing at the UIS conference underscores our desire to grow and coalesce partner support around the needs and strategies of Member States and we are glad to have leveraged this opportunity for improved engagement and openness.