Education data is a key instrument for the Pacific to monitor progress against established national and regional benchmarks and to alignourselves with international standards.
To help strengthen the quality of data on the status of education in Fiji, the Pacific Community held the Education Data Training session, in September.
The training reinforced development initiatives aimed at improving the quality of education data in Fiji as well as strengthening country capacity to generate the Sustainable Development Goal 4 indicator reports that are used for national, regional, and global monitoring.
The participants were trained on how to use the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) which is currently being used by Fiji’s Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (MEHA) to assess data collection systems at the national level.
To feed data into the DQAF, the ministry uses the Fiji Education Management System (FEMIS) as the main tool for data collection, processing and reporting. These software have allowed our colleagues at MEHA to prepare monitoring progress reports that can be fed into the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) and global SDG 4 indicators.
FEMIS was built to offer a rich data source covering a broad range of areas including general education, individual student information, TVET education, education finance as well as information on education segments and programmes.
MEHA has been using FEMIS to collect and compile data and produce relevant reports for policy making, planning and monitoring of their education system.
We have noted a number of institutional and statistical concerns that were raised by participants during the DQAF training session. One of the institutional concerns raised was that the FEMIS tool does not collect data from the private institutions in Fiji. As a solution, we had proposed that data collection can be conducted on private schools that will be in aggregated form such as number of students and teachers by gender, by age group and by year or level.
We had also received feedback that there was no statistical output document that were generated and made available to relevant stakeholders in Fiji. To curb this gap in data presentation, EQAP will be supporting the MEHA to develop an annual statistical digest that will have quality assured data that can be presented to all stakeholders identified by the ministry.
Besides establishing a statistical digest for Fiji, another outcome of the meeting included the need to provide quality data that can be fed into UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics’ (UIS) reporting template.
The UIS templates are in the form of questionnaires that make up the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). ISCED is the SDG 4 data collection tool for all levels of education in a country which includes questionnaires for each level of education; early childhood, primary, lower secondary, upper secondary, post-secondary non-tertiary and short cycle tertiary education.
The UIS questionnaire is, therefore, useful for not only Fiji but for the Pacific as it contains indicators, statistical approaches and monitoring tools to assess the progress of SDG 4 – Education 2030 and key targets in science, innovation, culture and communication.
Each year countries are requested to use the previous year’s data to fill in the UIS questionnaires. The questionnaires for the next report are due to be submitted by 31 March 2023. The filling and submission of the questionnaires is usually the responsibility of Education Statistics officers based at the national Ministries of Education. The Education Statistics workshop that was conducted in September was specifically for the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts or MEHA in Fiji, officers from the Corporate services team, Curriculum and Assessment unit, examination unit, the monitoring and evaluation unit and representatives from the Divisional and District Education officers. The workshop was facilitated by EQAP’s Data team with UIS as a build up towards a planned regional workshop.
Since the conclusion of the September data education training, EQAP has worked with Fiji’s MEHA to strengthen the quality of data that needs to be collected to compile the country’s annual data digest.
Story by Tawaqa Naisoro