As the world nears the 2022 mid-point for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, missing data matters more than ever. This is particularly true in achieving SDG 4 to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” The education community must better understand the gaps and oversights in the current data regime for SDG 4 to ensure that data are used to address inequities in education—and not to inadvertently deepen them.
The Inaugural Missing Education Data Summit launched a yearlong series of expert discussions and research on how current regimes of education data related to the SDGs are systematically missing groups of people, types of data, and purposes of education data. This will build on NORRAG’s previous work on education data.
- Dr Laura Savage, Executive Director of the International Education Funders Group, opened the meeting with a series of questions about types of persistently missing (and hidden) education data that make many policy questions hard to answer. Such missing data range from data on students and schools, to costs and investments, and to outcomes.
- Daniel Shephard, NORRAG Missing Education Data Lead, shared an overview of the coverage of SDG 4 indicators available at the global level and how the proportion of countries reporting on SDG 4 indicators has largely stagnated after an uptick at the start of Agenda 2030.
- Dr Marcos Delprato, Lecturer in International Education at the University of Sussex, provided an argument for moving towards more intersectional use of existing data that are theoretically linked to educational access and outcomes. He focused on multi-dimensional data that exist in surveys and assessments but are missing in global SDG 4 datasets and analyses.
- Raphaelle Martinez, Education Policy and Learning Team Lead at the Global Partnership for Education, reflected on the need to move away from business as usual. She called for better use of existing data and analytics to understand why people are marginalized in education, and to build more responsive data systems.
- Professor Sotiria Grek, European and Global Education Governance at the University of Edinburgh, delivered a keynote on how we have entered a new knowledge structure as epitomized by the SDGs. She reflected on how this new structure of knowledge may contribute to missing disciplinary perspectives on education data; missing distinctions between technical and political data use; and a competitive market of indicators that deprioritizes different ways of knowing beyond the dominant quantitative, harmonized, global indicators.
- Dr Pali Lehohla, Founder of the Pan African Institute for Evidence, reflected on the need to avoid allowing data to become a tyrant that limits the actions we take to improve education. He further emphasized the need to think about intersecting inequalities and to identify the stages in the education life cycle where data will have the most impact.
For each of these topics, this project seeks to interrogate the drivers of missingness, especially in terms of how the roles of the different organisations involved, and the structure of their inter-relationships relate to these dimensions of missing educational data.
The public portion of the Summit on 30 November was followed by closed-door expert discussions on 2 December focusing on Missing Education Data in four regions (Africa, Arab States, Asia, and Latin America & the Caribbean) and two themes (Gender and Education in Emergencies).
Agenda (download a PDF version here)