Gender Data Can Transform Education

Data2X September 16, 2022

The United Nations Secretary-General convenes the Transforming Education Summit this week, a key moment of the 77th United Nations General Assembly. The summit aims to amplify country-led solutions on education and develop new initiatives that limit the roadblocks students are facing in the midst of compounding global crises. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in international conflicts have created major obstacles in access to education for millions of youth and adolescents, with a disproportionate impact on girls and gender-diverse students

Recent statistics on girls’ education are alarming: UNESCO estimates that 11 million girls could never return to school due to the COVID-19 crisis alone. Other issues amplified during crises, like gender-based violence, could push millions more away from their education in the coming years. But, what is even more alarming is the number of girls who are not counted at all. 

Data on the gendered impacts of education has always been scarce, but during the pandemic, progress on gender data systems has eroded. A Data2X and Open Data Watch study of 25 countries shows that currently 42 percent of education data is missing. There is not enough reliable disaggregated data on school enrollment, participation and graduation to ensure that girl’s voices are central in newly created education solutions. 

Recent statistics on girls’ education are alarming: UNESCO estimates that 11 million girls could never return to school due to the COVID-19 crisis alone.

Transformative solutions require evidence-based policies. This means that increasing investments in gender data must be on the agenda during the Transforming Education Summit. Gender data must be central to any education solutions relating to gender equality; without it, progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 4 and 5 is at great risk. 

We know there are gender data solutions to alleviate barriers that girls’ face to their education. What is necessary now is to replicate and scale up these solutions by investing in better data and more data. Data2X’s flagship anniversary publication, the State of Gender Data, provides an array of solutions for gender data across development domains–including several compelling education examples, below from our Solutions Inventory

Creating a gender-equitable school index to understand pass rates of girls

Higher schooling attainment for girls is associated with improved maternal and child health outcomes. In low and middle income countries, girls drop out of school at higher rates than boys beginning in early adolescence due to factors such as son preference and lack of access to menstrual supplies. As a result, a gender-equitable school (GES) index was created with data from 159 secondary schools in Nepal to measure school-level factors that may influence girls’ secondary school pass rates. Learn more

Using OpenEMIS for countries lacking an adequate Education Management Information Systems

OpenEMIS is a potential replacement for outdated education systems that may be costly to update and a solution for countries that still lack electronic record keeping. Developed by UNESCO, OpenEMIS is a free, open source, customizable, and secure software. It allows ministries of education to collect data on student attendance, behavior and progress, teacher qualifications and attendance, and on institutional resources and services. It also has the capacity to monitor and analyze data on gender equality, especially indicators pertaining to students and staff composition, student performance, and access to sanitation. Learn more

Using geospatial data to improve education outcomes in rural areas 

Geospatial data can be used to supplement existing data by identifying school coverage and gaps in access to education services, in particular for girls, students with disabilities, and students in remote areas. This particular innovation took place in Sierra Leone, where the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary of Education partnered with GRID3 to further strengthen the country’s education strategy and efforts. Learn more

Using public-private partnerships in improving education data 

Public-private initiatives can help improve data quality and data use, especially in the education sector. The Education Data Solutions Roundtable leverages government, civil society, private and development partners’ expertise to improve the availability and use of education data. Although gender is not explicitly referenced in the solution, it is certainly an outcome in improving the quality and use of education data. Learn more

Scaling up these gender data solutions requires a multi-stakeholder effort, and a global moment like the Transforming Education Summit is a crucial opportunity for collaboration. 

Data2X urges global leaders to make gender data collection and use as a top priority–ultimately ensuring that every girl is taken into account.

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