In conjunction with the new Access to Information policy, the World Bank recently launched the Open Data Initiative , freeing up development data for use to stakeholders worldwide. The new website at data.worldbank.org underlines the importance of data collection and utilization for better tracking trends in global development. Education statistics are prominently featured on the new site and serve as major indicators for two of the eight Millennium Development Goals (#2 universal primary education and #3 gender equality.)
The education sector has long been a pace setter at the World Bank by providing these vital human development indicators at no charge. EdStats , the World Bank's Education Statistics database, has been around since 1997 and is an important resource for the development community that collects, generates, and synthesizes data from partners such as the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Education Policy and Data Center, and others.
While the new Open Data website currently displays just a surface of the depth of data that can be found in EdStats, this initiative helps emphasize the importance of education to a wider audience and serves as a high volume entry point for visitors interested in World Development Indicators. Traffic on the new site has reached over 1.6 million visitors since inception. From the Open Data site, visitors can link to the EdStats database where they will find in-depth country level information. Over 11,000 visitors logged onto EdStats last month.
The Open Data initiative also reflects a push towards better visualization of data. Other tools that enable users to create moving visual representations of education data include:
- Google's animated time-lapse charts, maps and bubble graphs that bring the World Bank's annual World Development Indicators  to life
- The World Bank's Online Atlas of the Millennium Development Goals 
- Interactive features like the EdStats Online Education Atlas , and more.
Open data is a public good. These tools are complementary and encourage broader possibilities for collaboration by partners, countries, and citizens of the world. Data plays a central role in our education work, as qualitative and disaggregated indicators help to drill down on monitoring and improving levels of learning and equity in countries. The World Bank's leadership on data collection helps countries monitor progress that can then be used to design better policies. The identification of leading indicators will also help audiences make better sense of data for evidence-based policy making, tying into future efforts to benchmark education systems.
Hans Rosling, of the Gapminder foundation, and Beth Novack, of the White House's Open Government Initiative, visited the World Bank recently to discuss the power of Open Data, information visualization, and innovations in governance and development. Watch the videos and read the story on Experts: Opening Data will Drive Global Knowledge .
Check out the Open Data Initiative and EdStats  for more.