Over the past decade, open government has gained momentum worldwide. Anchored in the principles of transparency, accountability, and integrity, open government in education refers to the opening or availability of government data, decision-making, and processes to public involvement and scrutiny. This can empower citizens and strengthen democratic participation, and help make education more inclusive and equitable.
By redefining the frontiers between citizens and public authorities, IIEP-UNESCO believes that open government is likely to respond better to the needs of the educational sector, strengthen trust among actors, and beyond that, reduce the risks of corruption.
Around the world, 55 countries have made nearly 200 commitments to increase transparency, citizen engagement and accountability within their governments, according to a 2019 assessment conducted by the Open Government Partnership. Many of these relate to open data, open policy, open budgeting, open contracting, and social audits. The examples of initiatives are also diverse: ranging from bringing transparency in the contracting of school meals to making schools accountable regarding the use of parental donations.
Yet, despite the promising implications of open government in the fight against corruption, there has been a shortage of literature and general data on open government in education. Furthermore, robust evaluations are needed to assess the actual efficacy of such initiatives and extensive analysis required to further reveal the advantages but also potential risks of open government.
To help fill these gaps, IIEP launched a major international research project in 2018 to respond to some the most pressing questions around open government in education. To date, this has included a literature review, a survey carried out in 38 UNESCO Member States, seven in-depth case studies on open government initiatives*, as well as two thematic studies on parental involvement in school management in India and sub-Saharan Africa.
Now, the research project will culminate with the upcoming Policy Forum, as a way to share new knowledge and experiences, facilitate dialogue, and open the door to further innovations in open government in education.
Pressing questions on open government in education
Building on the findings from IIEP’s research on open government, the Policy Forum will address a series of important questions including:
- How do various stakeholders understand the concept of open government in education?
- How do open government initiatives contribute to better access, quality, or equity in education?
- What is the impact of open government on anti-corruption efforts, especially as regards transparency and accountability?
- Which enabling (or limiting) factors influence the effective implementation of open government initiatives in education?
- Which specific measures can be taken to improve the design, implementation, and impact of open government initiatives in education?
Paving the way to new guidelines
The Policy Forum will also be an opportunity to formulate recommendations for educational decision‐makers and planners on how to make informed decisions on the design and implementation of open government policies in education. In addition to focusing on the findings of the research, participants will have the opportunity to discuss the overarching goals of open government, how to best implement open government initiatives, how to best facilitate citizen engagement and minority voices, as well as implications and risks for decision-makers and planners. These discussions will also feed into the preparation of new IIEP guidelines on the implementation of open government initiatives.
For any questions, please email the organizers at: OGForum@iiep.unesco.org