CIES panel: how can open data be used to improve transparency and fight against corruption in education?

In recent years, countries as different as Kenya, Mexico and the Philippines have witnessed increased activity in access to information initiatives and calls for more transparent and accountable governments. The development of technology centers, along with social movements demanding the right to information, have indeed encouraged an array of activities responding to calls for access to information.

But while legislation, accountability tools, and software have been developed for improved transparency purposes, efficacy of such endeavors are yet to be assessed. Published data are not always those that are the most needed for the improvement of government transparency and accountability. In addition, when data are available to the public, they are not necessarily presented in easily accessible formats and people are often unaware of how to access and utilize them. Finally, data access is not sufficient if not complemented with social accountability efforts.

It is in this context that IIEP-UNESCO hosted a panel at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on Using open data to improve transparency and fight against corruption in education.

The panel reviewed three open data initiatives undertaken in the education sector, namely: CheckMySchool in the Philippines; the Kenya Open Data Initiative led by the Government of Kenya to improve governance and explored new ways for the public to access information; and Mejora tu escuela, a project undertaken by the Institute Mexicano para la Competitividad (IMCO), which generated in particular the first open teacher payroll database in Mexico.

Panelists discussed how open data can help promote transparency and accountability in education; how to make sure that published data are relevant, understandable, and used effectively by parents and communities. They also reflected on the limits or risks in sharing educational information with the general public, including premature judgment on school performance, public frustration over inability to change the situation, along with possible security issues.

Read our latest publication on “Promoting Transparency through Information: A Global Review of School Report Cards”. You can also download the publication.