As part of its 2018-2021 Medium-Term Strategy, IIEP initiated a research project to explore the emerging movement towards open government and its potential to improve transparency and accountability in the education sector. To this end, it conducted a literature review, a global survey, two thematic studies and seven case studies. The latter illustrate the diversity of open government initiatives in education around the world, and each focus on one particular aspect of open government: open policy, open budget, open contracting, and social audits. Studies have taken place in Colombia, India, Madagascar, Peru, Portugal, Ukraine and the United States.
In the context of the global pandemic, IIEP has sought new and innovative ways to share its research findings with relevant parties. Since the case studies contain a host of valuable recommendations for national stakeholders, the Institute decided to mobilise local partners for dissemination at the national level. A series of launch webinars were organized in collaboration with the locally based authors of each of the studies, to initiate discussions among local stakeholders on the lessons learnt through IIEP’s research, and share their findings with wider national networks.
The Colombian launch webinar on open contracting in the school meals programme in Bogotá brought together the former sub-secretary of education and a principal public procurement specialist from the Interamerican Development Bank to debate with participants how public access to information can contribute to reducing market failures. Participants also discussed how the lessons learnt under the school meals project in Bogota could be replicated elsewhere.
The new Colombia Compra Eficiente process allowed us to detect corrupt practices” (Adriana Gonzalez, Former Sub-Secretary of Education in Bogotá)
The Madagascar webinar focused on open policy in local consultation structures (LCS) in the municipalities of Sahanivotry and Masindray. Participants included elected officials at the city level, education officials at the local and national levels, and two citizen members of local consultation structures. Together they debated the relevance of local consultation spaces for improving the quality of education, the importance of social accountability in the local management of education, and the need for a relationship of trust between parents and education authorities.
LCSs are informative, consultative, participatory structures whose legitimacy is as important as their legality. They commit local authorities to respond to citizens' demands for improvement (Harilanto Ravelomanantsoa, Case study author)
For the launch of the case study on open budget in Ukraine, the authors invited the founder of the Open School Platform (OS), the Head of a local Department of Education, a civil society representative, and users of OS. This resulted in an insightful discussion on the goals, advantages, challenges and conditions for success when introducing digital platforms for open school budgets.
The case of open school budget in Ukraine shows the potential of open government to shift the relations between stakeholders from hierarchy to cooperation and co-creation. Yet, this shift requires mutual trust and commitment (Oksana Huss, Co-author of the case study)
Building on these rich local debates, and based on a comparative analysis of the different case studies, IIEP shared with local audiences initial recommendations for improving open government initiatives. These included:
- Mobilise specialised actors and institutions to support the initiative, e.g., local public authorities, Public Procurement Agency, Civil Society Organisations, etc.
- Ensure that the consultation process allows not just for access to information but also supports broader exchange between stakeholders
- Provide capacity training for all stakeholders, including specialised training (e.g., technical training on the use of IT platforms, legal expertise on public procurement, preparation of school development plans)
- Create various different feedback opportunities, e.g. in person exchange, online tools, phone hotline, and make the impact of people’s feedback visible
Two further studies – a case study on social audits, and a thematic paper on School Management Committees, both based in India – will be launched in July. The final case studies from this series will be released in September 2021.