Little practical guidance is available to help plan for and evaluate investments in education management systems in developing countries. This initiative aims to distill best practice and lessons learned in this area, based on recent donor-funded projects. Case studies of Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria and Mozambique are included.
You may also be interested in infoDev’s Quick guide to useful resources related to Education Management Information Systems (EMIS).
– What are the best practices for implementing education management information systems (EMIS) to improve planning, organizational efficiencies, data collection and analysis, information sharing and transparency in the education sector to help meet objectives related to the Millennium Development Goals?
ICTs are widely believed to be important potential levers to introduce and sustain education reform efforts. Despite evidence of increasingly widespread use of ICTs in education initiatives around the world, however, there is little guidance available for policy makers and donor staff specifically targeted at countries contemplating the use of ICTs to help countries meet the education-related Millennium Development Goals.
Over forty World Bank education projects over the last four years have had components related to the development of education management information systems (EMIS), but little is known about best practices and lessons learned from such investments. While EMIS are perhaps the least glamorous types of ICT-related investments in education, they appear to be the most often deployed used of ICTs in large donor-funded the education sector. The sheer number and magnitude of such investments, combined with a lack of rigorous studies on their implementation and effectiveness, points to a potential for waste and inefficiencies. It is estimated that over half of large ICT-related projects fail in the corporate sector in OECD countries, and that such rates are even higher in the public sector in developing countries. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that EMIS in World Bank projects, as well as those supported by other donors, are often behind schedule and/or have to be significantly re-worked. Given the seeming ubiquity of their use in donor-funded projects and the absence of useful planning materials, case studies on EMIS planning and deployment, as well as best practices and lessons learned, would be useful planning tools for donor staff and educational policymakers. Just as a liquid changes shape to fit the receptacle into which it’s poured, so too should an EMIS fit the particular environment into which it is introduced. This is especially the case in countries struggling to meet EFA and education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, which typically have great needs related to data collection, analysis and dissemination, but limited experience with and capacity for the effective use of EMIS.
The effective use of EMIS can be confounded by a variety of social and cultural factors. Some governments complain that EMIS are imposed by donors more as control mechanisms than as tools for learning and effective planning. Local governmental authorities may have similar complaints about their participation in EMIS managed by a central governmental authority, especially where there is no history of (and trust for) sharing information and receiving anything useful in return. Management information systems in the education sector are often designed by technical people, ignorant of prevailing educational policies and with insufficient input from education specialists, as stand-alone systems, not integrated with information systems in other parts of government. It should be noted that integration with other systems and planning mechanisms may be increasingly critical where donors are moving toward sector-wide approaches (SWAPs) to enhance their cooperation and collaboration.
Scope of work:
In general, this study will explore answers to the following basic question:
- What are the best practices for implementing education management information systems (EMIS) to improve planning, organizational efficiencies, data collection and analysis, information sharing and transparency in the education sector, especially as these activities may relate to helping meet objectives related to Education For All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)?
More specifically, the study should explore:
- synthesized guidelines, lessons learned and ‘best’ practices for policymakers related to the planning for, development and sustainability of education management information systems (EMIS) based on the existing knowledge base and illustrated by
- at least two in-depth case studies of EMIS implementation in ICT in education initiatives in developing countries, with particular attention to
- a variety of common issues, especially the special and specific issues that arise because of the particular circumstances faced by countries eligible to participate in the Fast Track Initiative, such as those related but not limited to:
- developmental objectives and monitoring and evaluation needs;
- thinking about and planning for the use of ICTs in the context of education reform;
- existing policy planning processes and institutional capacity, including intra-governmental planning and coordination;
- cultural and social contexts, especially those related to information sharing;
- a shared vision, and related communication strategies;
- technology choices: buy it ‘off-the-shelf’ or ‘home-grown’?;
- technological ‘lock-in’ (including discussion of open source);
- costs and budgeting, including total cost of ownership;
- data context, integration and sharing;
- contracting, outsourcing and public-private sector partnerships;
- enabling/disabling environments;
- existing and necessary technology and connectivity infrastructure;
- human resources, training and capacity building;
- media, community and civil society outreach;
- legal and regulatory issues;
- EFA and education-related MDG issues, including gender, access to education, HIV-AIDS, and equity issues; and
- other capacity constraints.
This project is proudly supported and funded by the European Commission.