Exploring civil society in education: IIEP contributes to CIES 2023

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During the week of 20 February, IIEP participated in the annual CIES conference to share the latest of our work on transparency and accountability measures in education. CIES 2023 was organized in a blended format around the theme: ‘Improving Education for a More Equitable World’.

During the conference, IIEP shared its research activities as an ‘Education Out Loud’ Global Learning Partner(GLP) in the panel discussion on ‘Exploring civil society in education: Advocacy and accountability in global and national education policy through Education Out Loud’.

Panel session on civil society in education

The panel session, organized through the Global Partnership for Education EOL initiative, brought together the four GLPs: the Australian Council for Educational Research UK (ACER), the Accountability Research Center (ARC), the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and IIEP, to exchange ideas on how to improve citizen participation in education decision making. The EOL initiative aims to increase citizen participation in education systems by providing support and funding to a select number of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) around the globe. GLPs work to bring together the accumulated knowledge and insights of EOL grantees and assist in producing recommendations and lessons learnt to benefit the engagement of civil society in the education sector.

Abrehet Gebremedhin, ARC, presented their work on the role of civil society in national education policy, sharing how ARC will develop and test theories about the role of civil society in mobilizing constituencies, agenda-setting, building alliances, and collaborative governance of education reforms in selected countries. ARC will also identify civil society strategies for equitable, inclusive, and accountable education policy and practice, exploring what works, how it works, and in which context.

The second panellist, Dr Rosie McGee, IDS, highlighted how trends of rising authoritarianism are reducing the civic space and freedoms necessary for organized civil society to fully participate in public policy. She stressed that many EOL grantees pursue their work in very challenging circumstances and that IDS, as a GLP, will be exploring education advocacy in these contexts of conflict and closing civic space. IDS will compare insights from grantees with experiences from other sectors, drawing from other ongoing work by the Institute, and provide observations for citizen voice and state-citizen engagement in challenging governance contexts.

Dr Sladana Krstic, ACER, discussed how some CSOs engage in advocacy and policy influencing to improve equitable learning outcomes, especially relating to gender, intersectionality, and social inclusion. She presented the participatory action research that ACER will conduct in collaboration with three EOL grantees, namely: the Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) in Bangladesh, the School for Life (SfL) in Ghana, and the Students and Youths Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The research project aims to identify strategies and practices that have shown to be effective in instigating change at local, regional and education system levels, and shed some light on the conditions that have contributed to their effectiveness.

Finally, Muriel Poisson, IIEP, presented the factors that emerged from IIEP’s research as being key to engaging civil society in the overall policy and planning cycle. Building on IIEP’s research activities on Open School Data and Open Government, she highlighted existing CSO-led projects on community monitoring, such as Social Auditing projects in India or the CheckMySchool initiative in the Philippines which have been effective in increasing transparency and accountability in their respective systems. She ended by outlining IIEP’s contribution to Education Out Loud over the coming months.

The discussant, Tanvir Mohammad Muntasim, GPE, concluded on the need to ensure that community and civil society voices are involved at all levels of education decision-making processes, and discussed the challenges involved in ensuring that all stakeholders can work together to advance educational quality. 

IIEP’s work as an EOL Global Learning Partner

IIEP will conduct two projects in its role as a GLP. Project 1 will develop the capacities of EOL grantees in their understanding of issues relating to transparency and accountability in education, as well as their knowledge of the tools to address these issues, and the skills to elaborate them. Through workshops, IIEP will support EOL grantees in increasing their skills in data collection and use of tools to promote transparency and accountability in education.

Project 2 will help EOL grantees better understand how they can become fully engaged in national education sector policy design and implementation, and effectively participate as partners in educational system transformation. To fulfil this objective, IIEP will examine how governments relate to CSOs and what mechanisms need to be in place to facilitate their integration into the planning and policy cycle process.

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