Punjab, Pakistan: using open school data to improve transparency and accountability
The number of countries providing access to school data to the general public has grown rapidly over the past decade, encouraged by the development of information technologies and under the pressure of social movements demanding the right to information. A wide variety of initiatives have been developed by both governments and civil society, to share school-level information in the form of 'school report cards'. These provide key information about a school, e.g. on student enrolment, funding, number of teachers, teacher qualifications, pupil–teacher ratios, conditions of school facilities, textbooks, and student achievement. But now that such data are in the public domain, how can it be ensured that they are used to promote not only transparency but also accountability in the education sector? This case study compares the design and implementation of two major open school data initiatives implemented in Punjab, Pakistan – the school report cards developed under the Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit, which is government-led, and the Annual Status of Education Report programme, which is citizen-led. It covers the types of information published, who publishes it and how it is accessed; the critical data for improving transparency and accountability; how different categories of stakeholders access and use it; the requisite conditions for improving transparency and accountability; and the limitations of such processes. The publication concludes by highlighting the importance of open school data to improve performance management, but also the difficulty of making use of such data for the masses without internet access or who are not familiar with English. It concludes with a set of recommendations, including: bringing information directly to users through data packs or community level gatherings, involving community leaders and citizens in communication strategies, and giving community members a greater role in the data collection process.