Is monitoring education enough to strengthen education systems around the world?

The Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) is published by UNESCO with a mandate of “monitoring and reporting on Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) and on education in the other SDGs”. Ipsos found that the Report is successfully achieving this mandate, but the impacts expected by donors are just not possible for a report to achieve.

Is monitoring education enough to strengthen education systems around the world?

The author(s)

  • Jessica Bruce Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Raquel de Luis Iglesias Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
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The GEM Report is a repository of evidence and data to promote better and more accountable education throughout the world. Its aim is to be an independent and reliable source of information to strengthen education systems and contribute to inclusive, equitable, quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Ipsos was commissioned to evaluate the three most recent editions of the Report, published in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The evaluation found that the Report successfully fulfils its mandate of monitoring SDG 4 and education in other SDGs. It is being used as a source of reference by readers to monitor education, identify good practices, and support their work. UNESCO field offices use the GEM Report as a reference for presentations and discussions with governments, putting issues on the table, and pressing where evidence suggests more work is required. Of all the audience sectors, civil society is one of the most enthusiastic about the Report; it is used for deepening the knowledge of education advocates around the world, and as a reference point and basis for advocacy at the international level (generally with regard to reaching SDG 4) and also in national campaigns.

Our research also found that there is little evidence gathered of specific policy impacts and that donors, by asking the report to impact on policies at the national level, are putting pressure on the GEM Report to deliver impacts that are not realistic for any report to achieve. But then, asked many interviewees, is that really the aim of the Report, and should it be held to that objective?

We produced recommendations for the GEM Report that will help the GEM Report Team to define a long-term strategy to better achieve and monitor results and, in turn, ensure the Report’s financial sustainability. We also advised on how to better engage the readership to increase the report’s relevance, and provided some key ways to improve the promotion and dissemination of the Report among key audiences. The GEM Report Team has accepted our recommendations and a plan is already in place to address them.

The overall approach of Ipsos’ study is a theory-based evaluation focused on reviewing and testing the Theory of Change of the GEM Report. This evaluation used a wide of range of data sources, including analysis of monitoring information, a review of wider literature, 100 in-depth interviews, an online survey, bibliometric analysis and social media analysis.

The team was formed by Ipsos staff from the Policy and Evaluation Unit, the Sustainable Development Research Centre, the International Social Research team and the Innovation team, bringing together thematic expertise on education and the Agenda 2030 and methodological expertise on evaluation methods and big data analytics.

The author(s)

  • Jessica Bruce Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Raquel de Luis Iglesias Ipsos Public Affairs, UK

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