Using open school data to improve transparency and accountability in Punjab, Pakistan

This case study compares the design and implementation of two major open school data initiatives in Punjab, Pakistan. It looks at the school report cards developed under the Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit (PMIU), which is government-led and the largest, most comprehensive data-collection platform in the country. It also looks at the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) programme, which is a household-based, citizen-led initiative that focuses primarily on rural areas

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The PIMU initiative represents one of the most significant steps taken by the provincial government in improving accountability and transparency in the country’s education landscape. It publishes, online, the monthly performance of almost 53,000 public schools in Punjab across specific educational indicators, such as attendance, teacher presence, and school facilities.

This case study provides an in-depth assessment of the PMIU, questioning how effective it is and analysing the level of public interest and conditions necessary to make its successful in the context of Punjab. More specifically, it investigates the types of information published and how it is accessed, the most critical data for improving transparency and accountability, how different categories of stakeholders accesses the information and utilizes it and the limits of such processes.

By incorporating the suggestions proposed in this study, the provincial government would be able to consolidate the benefits of this initiative, and potentially discover new areas for expansion that are still to be explored.

The study collected data from three contrasting districts – Rawalpindi, Hafizabad, and Chiniot – chosen because of the adult literacy rate. Surveys measured the perspectives of 250 parents, head teachers and parent-teacher association members in these three districts. Additionally, interviews were conducted with key educational actors at a provincial level, and focus groups were conducted with teachers and students.

The study highlights the importance of open school data to improve performance management, but also the difficulty for the masses who do not have access to the Internet or are not familiar with English to make use of it. Nevertheless, the report concludes that the PMIU, which other provinces in Pakistan have now adopted, constitutes a ground-breaking initiative in the educational landscape of the country.

Selected recommendation

  1. Expand the set of indicators and sample populations
  2. Bring information directly to users through data packs or community-level gatherings
  3. Involve community leaders and citizens in communication strategies
  4. Give community members a greater role in the data collection process

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About the author

Kashmali Khan has 10 years of direct experience working with and supporting governments in designing and leading major public sector transformation initiatives. She has successfully led large-scale reform and implementation projects in Pakistan. She recently led the Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme, an education reform program in a 60,000 school system, with a focus on defining the system strategy and priorities on education, and implementing provincial and district level interventions to improve access and participation. Kashmali studied Social Anthropology and Women’s studies at the University of Oxford.

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