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Meet four women leading the drive for open data in Africa

David Mariano's picture

Editor’s note: This is a guest blog from Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute. This article was first published by This is Africa on 17th January 2017​.

 
Nkechi Okwuone

Across Africa, innovators are using open data to gain greater insight into local issues, and create new public services. From government open data platforms to startup accelerator programmes, open data is increasingly recognised as a tool for tackling challenges across a range of sectors including health, education and agriculture.

This autumn, in six cities across South Africa the Responsive Cities Challenge encouraged designers and entrepreneurs to use open data to develop solutions that will improve local government services. Meanwhile, in Burkina Faso, the CartEau project is using open data to map safe drinking water points and latrines across the country for the first time. These examples show how open data is a powerful vehicle for addressing complex problems.

Increasing digital connectivity is important for economic growth, education and democratic participation but the equalising force of the Web is only meaningful when everyone is included in the digital sphere. According to the Web Foundation, women face disproportionate barriers to access, with poor women in urban areas in 10 developing countries they looked at 50% less likely to be connected to the Internet than men in the same age group.

Open data – data anyone can access, use or share – is transformative infrastructure for a digital economy that is consistently innovating and bringing the benefits of the Web to society. Open data often goes hand in hand with open working cultures and open business practices. While this culture lends itself to diversity, it is important that those who are involved in open data make sure it addresses everyone's needs. It is therefore encouraging to see that open data initiatives in African countries are being led by women.

Education as a development priority at the global, regional, and country levels

Svetlana Markova's picture
“Education” is at the top of the world’s development agenda, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the focus of the upcoming 2018 World Development Report of the World Bank.  The World Bank monitors views of development experts around the globe and finds consistently that “education” is perceived as key to development at different levels.
 
In the past five years, the World Bank’s Country Opinion Survey Program surveyed more than 25 thousand opinion leaders in the field of development in nearly all client countries across the globe. In some countries the surveys were conducted two or even three times during 2012-2016.
 
"What is the most important development priority for your country?"[1] was one of the questions to representatives of national and local governments, multilateral/bilateral agencies, media, academia, the private sector, and civil society in developing countries.
 
At the global level, -- where 57 million children in the world still remain out of school[2], -- “education” has emerged amongst survey respondents as one of the top two development priorities across the regions.

Percentage and number of opinion leaders seeing “education” as a top development priority by region (123 developing countries, 2012-2016).​

 

Nigeria General Household Survey 2015-2016: Data and documentation now available

Vini Vaid's picture
© Curt Carnemark / World Bank

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team launched the third wave (2015–16) of the Nigeria General Household Survey (GHS)-Panel in Abuja, on December 13, 2016.  
 
The GHS-Panel survey is a nationally representative survey administered every 2–3 years, that covers a range of topics including demography, education, welfare, agriculture, health and food security. The data is collected in two visits: post-planting and post-harvest seasons. The survey follows the same households over time and collects a rich set of information, to allow for comprehensive time-series analyses that can help shape policies for a wide array of development sectors. Here are some interesting findings from the 2015–16 survey:

How level is the playing field between countries in Latin America and the Caribbean?

Oscar Calvo-González's picture
Also available in: Español | Portuguese

In less than a generation the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has made great progress in expanding the basic public services that are necessary for children to succeed later in life. The skills, knowledge and health accumulated by individuals by the time they reach adulthood are essential to get jobs, accelerate economic mobility, and reduce inequality in the long-run. The progress observed in LAC ranges from increased access to healthcare and schools to running water and electricity. But progress has also been uneven, both across countries and for different types of basic services.

Today, the playing field in Latin America is most level in access to electricity, where we have seen gaps in coverage narrow the most. Figure 1 below shows how the typical performance in the region (the median) compares with the country in the region with the highest level of coverage (labeled “best in class”) in three basic services for children. The focus on children makes it possible to determine that any difference in access would be mostly due to circumstances out of their control. In the case of access to electricity the regional median has not only converged towards the best performing country but it has now reached a coverage of 99 percent.

Chart: What are the Average Number of Students per Teacher?

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Also available in: Français | 中文 | العربية

In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, there are more than twice as many students per teacher than in Europe and North America. The pupil-teacher ratio is different but related to class size, and is often used to compare the quality of schooling across countries.

Chart: Literacy Rates Higher Among Youth than Adults

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | 中文

In 1970, four in 10 adults were illiterate. Today that figure is less than two in 10. In every region of the world, literacy has improved, and literacy rates among youth aged 15-24 are higher than adults over 15, especially in South Asia, Sub Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Access data on youth literacy and adult literacy at data.worldbank.org. 
 

Chart: Girls Closing The Education Gap in IDA Countries

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Also available in: 中文

Since 1990, primary school completion rates in countries supported by the International Development Association (IDA) have risen by over 50%. The gap between girls and boys completion remains, but it’s fallen by 70% since 1990 and is now smaller than ever.
 

Can we quantify learning globally to measure progress on SDG 4?

Husein Abdul-Hamid's picture

This is a companion blog to the series of blogs from the 2016 Edition of World Development Indicators. This blog draws on data from the World Bank’s EdStats database.

Many countries are struggling to improve national learning averages in core subjects such as reading, mathematics and science. While the majority of students reach the lowest international benchmark level in core subjects by the age of 14 or 15, a significant proportion do not. For those that fail, they are unlikely to be able to master these skills by the end of their schooling. This will impact on their ability to join the labor force and have productive jobs. Sustainable Development Goal 4 looks to “ensure inclusive and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” in an attempt to widen the talents of a country’s future workforce and set the stage for increased economic growth. Education assessments, while not wholly comparable, shed light on countries’ achievements or gaps in the provision of a high quality and effective education system.
 

MDG2: Accelerating progress towards universal primary education

Hiroko Maeda's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français

This is the second in a series of posts on data related the Millennium Development Goals based on the 2015 Edition of World Development Indicators.

Millennium Development Goal 2 is to "Achieve universal primary education" and is measured against a target to “ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling”

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After modest movement toward universal primary education in the poorest countries during the 1990s, progress has accelerated considerably since 2000. Achieving the MDG 2 target appeared within reach only a few years ago, but the primary school completion rate has been stalled at 91 percent for developing countries since 2009.

Only two regions, East Asia and Pacific and Europe and Central Asia, have reached or are close to reaching universal primary education. The Middle East and North Africa has steadily improved, to 95 percent in 2012, the same rate as Latin America and the Caribbean. South Asia reached 91 percent in 2009, but progress since has been slow. The real challenge remains in Sub-Saharan Africa, which lags behind with a 70 percent primary completion rate as of 2012.

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