Citizens’ right to quality education denotes right to timely education data

Blog by EQAP's Education Statistician Gregory Keeble

Timely and quality statistics are important for monitoring international and regional commitments to improve education systems in the Pacific region. The Status of Education in the Pacific report provides statistical evidence of the progress that Pacific Island countries have made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal targets on quality education (SDG4), as well as the goals of the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF. The latest status report will be soon be available on the Pacific Data Hub. Highlights of the report were tabled at the 12th Forum Education Ministers Meeting held earlier this week.

A group of students revising in their school bure at Tafea College, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

While education statistics are primarily used by education ministries or departments to plan and implement policies to improve service delivery, the information is also used for education statistics reports and disseminated on official websites, including the Pacific Data Hub. This is undoubtedly useful for the work of many stakeholders, like donor agencies and education civil society groups.  

The information is also useful to the wider public in terms of accountability. It is thus important that governments are able to disseminate timely information about the education sector in the mainstream media. This includes, producing statistics that can be easily understood by the public by using new technologies, such as infographics and other data visualisations, and explaining the meaning of the statistics.

The greater visibility of education statistics will likely lead to a greater demand for and use of education data at local community levels. This will also lead to increased transparency and trust of the quality of published education statistics and greater confidence in the use of official education data at national, regional, and international levels to inform education policy and decision-making.  

Making public relevant education data will help keep people informed of the progress towards ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

As part of EQAP’s mandate to increase the use of information for policy development and implementation, planning and management, it is working closely with its local government partners to improve their production and use of education statistics. Much work is being done in this area. To complement and support this work, better dissemination of education statistics is necessary. This data would be useful for all public stakeholders in education, including parents, community leaders, teachers, students, school leaders and employers.  

The right to education also denotes a public's right to know the status of their education system. Gregory Keeble, EQAP stasticianAs accorded by the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics:  

“Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the Government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honour citizens' entitlement to public information”.

The right to education is a human right. Not only is it a right to access to quality education, but it also denotes a public’s right to know the status of their education system. This right to know can only serve to support the ideals of a quality education that is accessible to all.

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