Postcard from Madagascar: Bridging the Gap between Data and Policy across all Three Education Ministries

By Rolland Rabeson, Secretary-General of National Education Ministry, Georges Solay Rakotonirainy, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Employment, Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and Christian Guy Ralijaona, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Higher Education Education and Scientific Research  

A recent blog in this series dubbed the world’s line ministries and National Statistical Offices (NSOs) “the unsung heroes of the push for sustainable development”. In Madagascar, we are fully committed to producing and using good data to monitor progress and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). But we need an effective compass to ensure that we are going in the right direction at every level and programme – from basic education to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education.

Madagascar's contribution to global data on SDG 4

This is why all three of our Education Ministers in Madagascar formed a team to join a new series of capacity development projects launched by UNESCO’s Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). This initiative will involve 10 countries determined to bridge the gap between national education policies and data collection and use.

Over the coming months, we will be working with the UIS on the data end of this equation, developing an action plan to improve both the quality and the uptake of our data on progress towards SDG 4 – a quality education for all by 2030 – at the national level. This will enable us, in turn, to make a stronger contribution to the growing supply of internationally-comparable data on progress towards the goal.

As a first step, UNESCO has supported the development of a new education sector plan (2018-2022) which takes into consideration our global SDG 4 commitments. As a second step, we are building our own Education Data Platform, which will consist of a national technical team plus a steering committee of representatives from our Ministries, NSO, development partners and the UIS. Once that is in place, the national technical team, with UIS support, will map out every possible data source – and very importantly, every data gap – while scrutinising the current statistical systems and capacity development needs of our country.

Our priorities

Despite limited resources, we have been steadily seeking to improve the quality and use of data from our respective Ministries. With this new initiative, we want to specifically focus on some key areas. For example, we need to improve the age-related data for basic education so that we can better evaluate the extent to which children are starting school on time and making the transition to higher grades and levels. We must also expand the coverage of data on TVET and higher education, while expanding our information systems to include more detailed information on issues such as early school leaving and reinsertion programmes.

Looking more closely at the thematic indicators for Education 2030, we need help in filling the gaps on key indicators like the percentage of children of school entrance age who are developmentally on track. We also want to help the UIS and countries around the world to break new ground with Target 4.7 to “ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development”. What exactly does global citizenship or education for sustainable development mean? Madagascar can provide some unique insight in defining these concepts.

Armed with this knowledge, the team will develop Madagascar’s National Strategy for the Development of Education Statistics (NSDES), which will be reviewed by the steering committee. The NSDES will be a key tool for governments and donors. Governments will have a clear roadmap to direct their efforts to improve data quality and use the information for policymaking, while donors will see how they can best target their support. 

Madagascar is one of four countries where this project is already underway, together with Cambodia, Haiti and Nepal. Another six countries will be joining our ranks in the coming months: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar and Senegal.

The Africa we want

From our viewpoint, our membership in this programme could not be more timely as the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) opens its ADEA Triennale in Senegal. Hundreds of ministers, policy experts and advocates from across Africa and beyond are heading to Dakar to ask the big questions: how can we revitalise education across the continent in the pursuit of SDG 4? How can we maintain momentum for the achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063, the vision and Action Plan that calls on all segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united continent based on shared values and a common destiny?

In its aspirations for the “Africa We Want”, the agenda emphasises a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, as well as an Africa whose development is driven by its people. These aspirations demand the achievement of a good quality education for each and every child, without exception. And that, of course, requires more and better data. We hope that this new project will enable Madagascar to become a regional leader in the quality of its data as part of a larger process in which we translate our statistics into tangible progress for all learners.  

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