Open government in education

As part of its 2018-2021 Medium-Term Strategy, the IIEP has launched a new research project to explore the emerging movement towards open government and its potential to improve transparency and accountability in the education sector.

Open government is understood here as “the opening up of government data, processes, decisions, and control mechanisms to public involvement and scrutiny, with a view to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education”. It calls on renewed government-citizen interaction and relies on the principles of transparency, citizen engagement, and participation as well as government responsiveness.

Open government emerged about a decade ago and has been gaining momentum over the past few years, likely as a result of recent advances in information technology. This movement is based on the assumption that the rapid development of new technologies, combined with the pressure for more transparent and accountable governments, will push countries to explore innovative approaches not only to share information with the public but also to consult citizens and engage them in education service delivery. Moreover, by helping to redefine citizen-government boundaries, it is believed that open government could help improve transparency and accountability in the management of public sectors (including the education sector), and beyond that, the overall public administration culture.

However, important avenues of investigation are yet to be systematically explored, including the implications of open government for the education sector, and its possible impact on transparency, accountability and anti-corruption issues.

Major aims of IIEP’s new research

In this context, IIEP’s new research project will seek to promote more responsive, effective, and innovative educational planning with a focus on citizen involvement. More specifically, its major aims are as follows:

  • To help formulate an understanding of what is meant by open government in the education sector
  • To explore perceptions of open government approaches in education among all major stakeholders
  • To establish a list of criteria that maximize the successful implementation of open government initiatives in education
  • To evaluate the impact of open government initiatives specifically as they relate to the aims set out in SDG 4
  • To provide recommendations to education decision-makers and planners on how to make informed decisions about the design and implementation of open government policies in education

In 2018, IIEP undertook exploratory work to better conceptualize what is meant by open government in the education sector, and document and assess early and innovative initiatives developed in this field. On this basis, it prepared a detailed research proposal which was discussed during an expert workshop held in Saint-Remy-lès-Chevreuse (France) in January 2019.

Literature review

In 2020, the Institute published a literature review of the issue of open government in education, to help clarify the conceptual confusion around the term ‘open government’ and define it in relation to the education sector. This review also elaborates a ‘theory of change’ that explores the relationship between open government and corruption. Finally it maps out 34 recent open government initiatives in diverse education contexts worldwide.

Seven case studies

In 2019/20, seven case studies on open government in education conducted across the world were launched. These studies illustrate the diversity of open government initiatives in education, and each case prioritizes one particular aspect of open government, namely: open policy, open budget, open contracting, and social audits. They focus on the following countries:

Two thematic studies

At the same time, the IIEP launched two thematic studies on the role of parents and school management committees in setting up an open government in India and Africa.