Authors: Hina Khan

This case study is one of the five winning entries from the 2019 GDI Case Study Competition

This case study examines how the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province in northwestern Pakistan, worked to improve primary education through he Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) within the Elementary and Secondary Education Department. The IMU was a semiautonomous wing of the department tasked with monitoring and reporting on all major school indicators. 

Development Challenge: Improving primary education. There was a mismatch in demand and supply of education. Other problems only exacerbated the challenge, including gender inequity and disparities in outcomes resulting from the province’s sociocultural norms that discouraged female education, a lack of robust accountability frameworks, and weak governance and management practices, combined with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s perilous terrain.

Project Solution: The department hired almost 550 data collectors, who were responsible for carrying out unannounced visits to five or six schools every day in their respective districts. The data collectors visited all 28,000 schools in the province at least once every month and entered data through a customized smartphone application that, in turn, fed the data into an online dashboard that education providers could access at any time. Adam Smith International’s technical assistance team held extensive trainings for department officials to build their capacity to access, analyze, and incorporate the data into their routine operations and to make better-informed decisions that were grounded in evidence.

Project Results: The results of this real-time data collection system, coupled with the establishment of efficient forums on ways to use data, were evident within a few years. The teacher-presence rate improved from 81 percent in 2013 to 90 percent in 2018. Student absenteeism fell from 22 percent to 13 percent during the same time period, and student retention rates across the province improved from 60 percent to 74 percent. Data on input-based indicators helped authorities make better-informed decisions on provision and monitoring of basic facilities, such as toilets, electricity, drinking water, and boundary walls. In 2018, 78 percent of schools had all basic facilities, compared to 50 percent in 2013.