The primary RTEI tool is the RTEI Questionnaire, a comprehensive survey of close-ended questions answered with supporting documentation. Each question has an explicit basis in one or several international human rights instruments, namely United Nations' legally binding international conventions.
The RTEI Questionnaire contains 79 questions and 365 unique data points focused on a comprehensive international right to education framework. RTEI indicators were drawn from:
- Binding international covenants such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
- Regional treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child.
- Non-binding but internationally accepted declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The RTEI Questionnaire is structured into Governance, Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability, and Adaptability (the 4 A's) themes, along with subthemes based on the international human rights law framework:
Governance: The education legal structure in a State. This includes State ratification of international declarations or treaties, education financing, and education standards and regulations.
- Subthemes include: International Framework, National Law, Plan of Action, Monitoring and Reporting, and Financing.
Availability: The specific quantity of educational institutions available and the institutions' conditions.
- Subthemes include: Classrooms, Sanitation, Teachers, and Textbooks.
Accessibility: Whether available institutions are accessible to all students regardless of their socio-economic, familial, or demographic status.
- Subthemes include: Free Education, Discrimination, and Participation.
Acceptability: The quality of available education. This moves beyond learning outcomes to also capture the cultural relevance and security of the educational environment as well as the aims and content of education.
- Subthemes include: Aims of Education, Learning Environment, and Learning Outcomes.
Adaptability: The ability of education to be flexible in meeting the needs of a diverse range of students.
- Subthemes include: Children with Disabilities, Children of Minorities, Out-of-school Children, and Out-of-school Education.
The RTEI Questionnaire also classifies each indicator as structural, process, or outcome. These indicator classifications found in the RTEI Questionnaire can also be used by researchers and advocates to analyze national systems and standards, practice oriented indicators, and learning outcomes, respectively. Cross-cutting themes, or concepts rooted in the international human rights framework and current pressing international development interests, include:
- Girls’ education: The laws that specifically target girls and attempting to evaluate education equality across sex.
- Children with Disabilities: Disaggregation of indicators to evaluate education equality by disability status.
- Regional Disparities: The difference in the education system and learning outcomes based on urban-rural divides.
- Indigenous and Minority Populations: Educational equality concerns among potentially marginalized groups (ethnic, racial, religious).
- Private Education: Laws that shape the use and availability of private education.
- Teachers: The nationwide professional state and requisite teacher training.
- Income Inequality: Differences in educational access and outcomes by socio-economic status.
- Content of Education: Investment in learning materials and topics included in national curriculum.
- Monitoring and Accountability: The laws that provide oversight for the educational system.
- National Normative Framework: The laws that guide the national education system.
- Opportunity and Indirect Costs: Costs that price children out of education and the loss of potential gains from education for out-of-school children.
- Alignment of Education Aims: How well education's aims, outlined in the international right to education framework, are included in the national legal structure, national curriculum, and teacher training.
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: The progress being made towards various targets under SDG 4.
Originating out of the RTEI inception meeting held in Lagos, Nigeria in September 2013, the RTEI Questionnaire was also developed through consultations conducted over the course of 2015. In 2016, RTEI combined the original core and companion questionnaires into a more holistic measure of minimum obligations and progressively realized rights. It is anticipated that the RTEI Questionnaire will be continually refined and improved as lessons are learned through application rounds.
RTEI partners with civil society organizations and national education coalitions as the primary respondents to the RTEI Questionnaire. In the first year of the RTEI biennial process, partners are identified through a competitive open application process and selected based on their history of engaging their governments to strengthen education systems, experience in research and data collection, and capacity to drive public discourse on education.
Partners are trained and have two months to complete the RTEI Questionnaire. Each response is provided with supporting documentation, with opportunity for further comment and clarification. Upon submission, Questionnaires are assessed by RESULTS Educational Fund staff to ensure readiness for peer review and clarifications are obtained where needed. Completed Questionnaires are then subjected to a blind peer review by two in-country independent experts and national research organizations, given one month to review. Pre-identified national government officials are provided the same 30-day window to review and comment. Disparities in responses are reconciled by RESULTS Educational Fund staff and verified with partners. Then data is analyzed guided by RTEI's iterative and peer-reviewed methodology and scores are shared with partner organizations within two months of a completed, reviewed, and verified Questionnaire submission.
After data is disseminated to partner organizations, they draft country briefs and the RESULTS Educational Fund compiles the RTEI annual report. Civil society partners are then able to submit proposal for advocacy strategies using RTEI results in the second year of RTEI. Proposals are reviewed by the RTEI Advisory Group and RESULTS Educational Fund team and selected proposals are supported in the second year of RTEI. This biennial process continues with data collection in even-numbered years and RTEI-grounded advocacy implemented in odd-numbered years.
Fully reviewed and reconciled Questionnaires are used to calculate RTEI scores. RTEI collects both quantitative and qualitative responses. Quantitative data is used to develop the index scores on a scale of 0 (right to education absent) to 100 (right to education respected, protected, and fulfilled). Qualitative data helps explain and expand the researchers’ and peer reviewers’ responses about limitations and on-the-ground realities. All scores are described in the Codebook.
The 2015 Questionnaire was divided into the Core Questionnaire, used to calculate the Index score, theme scores, and subtheme scores, and a Companion Questionnaire that allowed for the calculation of cross-cutting theme scores. The 2015 scores were calculated with unweighted subthemes from the Core Questionnaire.
In 2016, with the combination of the Core and Companion Questionnaires, indicators identified as progressively realized rights were weighted using the log GDP per capita as a measure of state resources relevant to the attainment of progressively realized rights, demarcated with a W in the Questionnaire. Subthemes were also weighted for data availability. Refer to the 2016 Methodological Technical Note for a more detailed description of weighting and analysis.
The RTEI 2016 Index score is the average of each theme (Governance, Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability, and Adaptability). Each theme score is an average of its related subtheme scores. RTEI averages each data point to calculate each subtheme. For example, under International Framework, RTEI averages each convention and treaty with the same weight in the total score to accurately reflect the relationship between laws and treaties, without privileging one group (such as question 1.1.2 that only has one data point) over another (such as question 1.1.1 that has 8 data points). Cross-cutting theme scores are derived by re-configuring indicators. Theme, subtheme, and cross-cutting theme calculations are described in the 2015 Analytic Handbook and 2016 Methodological Technical Note.
Each theme score was identified by averaging all subtheme scores. The final index score is an average of all theme scores.
- Overall score = Average of theme scores
- Themes = Average of subtheme scores
- Subtheme scores = average of data points (skipping missing data)
- Data availability subtheme = average of missing data per theme multiplied by the ratio of questions from government sources.
RTEI scores identify areas that governments can improve upon as they make progress towards the right to education.
To enhance national-level application and interpretation, RTEI civil society partners use RTEI results to develop country briefs. Country briefs contextualize RTEI findings, provide deeper analysis, and offer remedies to weaker areas.
As with any index, RTEI has limitations in its interpretation and application:
- A general measure of the right to education in a country.
- Based on an important, but non-exhaustive, list of indicators explicitly derived from the international right to education framework.
- Focused on minimum core obligations that should be immediately implemented and are not subject to resource restraints.
- A first step toward further analysis and advocacy.
RTEI is not…
- The comprehensive, definitive measure of the right to education in a country.
- An exhaustive index that covers the full complexity of the right to education.
- A legal document that can be used for adjudication purposes.