Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020-2021, SHLC continued its mission of conducting rigorous research, strengthening capacities of researchers in Glasgow and partner countries, and building partnerships that allow collaborative work for lasting change.

One of such partnerships is with UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) based in Paris, France. The IIEP team and SHLC teams in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Scotland are now working together on a project titled “Local challenges, global imperatives: Cities at the forefront to achieve Education 2030.”

What is this project about?

Achieving quality, equitable, and inclusive education (SDG 4) is a great challenge for any country, especially those that have lower resources and capacities to work towards meeting each ambitious target. This project examines the ways cities conduct educational planning and management in three contexts: Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Rwanda to identify challenges and strategies to strengthen their effectiveness.

The study will allow to understand how educational planning is done at city level in each of the three countries to identify challenges that prevent a full achievement of the Goal, but also opportunities for change. With such information, city planning authorities will be able to identify what parts of educational planning need to be altered and how to improve formal education provided in their cities.

Students participate is class exercise at the Kashadaha Anando school in Kashadaha, Bangladesh on October 12, 2016. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
What does this project involve?

Each country study is led by a local SHLC partner in charge of the research and knowledge exchange activities at the local level, including Dr Shilpi Roy (Khulna University, Bangladesh), Professor Mario Delos Reyes (University of the Philippines), and Dr Vincent Manirakiza (University of Rwanda). Coordination among the teams and the comparative component are led by Dr Yulia Nesterova and Professor Mike Osborne at the University of Glasgow.

We are collecting primary and secondary data from a variety of sources.

For the secondary data, we are relying on the analysis of official documents including documents that detail the responsibilities of cities in education, city-level educational planning tools and policy documents, education budget, city’s education infrastructure, teaching staff, and many others. We are also looking at such education indicators at the city level as number of students by level of education, number of public and private schools, location of schools and school maps, existence of elected children’s councils, extra-curricular activities, and civil society organisations involved in education, among others.

For the primary data, we are conducting interviews and focus groups with a range of education stakeholders of local education communities. These include mayors, local elected officials in charge of education, head of education departments, heads of city hall’s budget departments and of human resources, inspectors, teachers, civil society organisations, and private companies, to name a few. We also hope to have a few school visits to meet key actors there where possible as COVID-19 restrictions vary across the countries.

Kigali, Rwanda. Two young school girls in uniform on their way home after class. Shutterstock, Sarine Arslanian
It’s not only about research …

The researchers involved in this project will strengthen their skills in leading city-level research on educational planning and employing such research tools as document analysis, interviews, and focus groups as well as conducting a comparative analysis for the three countries once data are collected. Strengthening these skills will support them in their future projects and will thus benefit the institutions they work with.

In addition, the researchers will engage closely with UNESCO, the organisation that sets standards for education systems across the world. This collaboration will allow the researchers to improve their policy engagement skills and writing for policymakers and practitioners as outputs will include not only academic but also non-academic publications, such as reports and policy briefs.

What will we do with the data?

We expect very rich data to emerge from this project to help us understand city level education planning and management from inside out. This will lead to improved understanding of the challenges cities face, opportunities in each context, and strategies cities may adopt to improve educational planning to achieve SDG4.

Our team is planning to create a wide range of outputs to reach diverse stakeholders with such vital information. In particular, we are planning to produce reports and policy briefs, academic and media articles, webinars, presentations at partner universities and conferences, and podcasts.