(A little girl writes numbers from 1 to 5 on the blackboard at Mnyimbi TuTu Center in Zanzibar. Tanzania, April 2017 Photo Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud)

A little girl writes numbers on the blackboard. Tanzania, April 2017. Photo Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud

By Vivian Purcell and Tony Baker

RESULTS Educational Fund is pleased to present the data from the Right to Education Index (RTEI) 2018. The data is the outcome of a comprehensive monitoring exercise conducted over the course of 2018.

Civil society partners from 21 countries completed the RTEI Questionnaire — RTEI’s primary research tool consisting of 81 questions covering 288 data points in the areas of Governance and the 4 As of the right to education (Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability, and Adaptability). Their findings were reviewed by national independent researchers and provided to government officials for further feedback. Initial data collection by civil society partners can take up to two months, with one month allowed for peer and government review.

RTEI operates on a two-year recurring cycle, with research conducted in the first year and followed by the implementation of in-country advocacy strategies in the second. 2018 represents the third round of RTEI research, having been preceded by a five-country pilot in 2015 and the first official research round conducted in 15 countries in 2016.

RTEI 2018 Findings

In 2018, South Korea, UK, Albania, and Indonesia had the highest scores overall, accounting for the most robust framework for the right to education across the five themes represented in RTEI. In contrast, DRC, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Tanzania had the lowest scores, signifying weaker education systems and particular difficulty addressing progressively realized rights.

The theme of Governance, which addresses the educational legal framework, had the highest scores per country overall, in contrast to the theme of Accessibility, that identifies whether available institutions are accessible to all students regardless of their socio-economic, familial, or demographic status, which had the lowest scores overall. Issues identified in participating countries focused mainly on Children of Minorities, Discrimination, Girls’ Education, Learning Environment, and Teachers.

The most revealing aspects of RTEI data, however, can be found in the analyses conducted by RTEI partners themselves. See below for country-by-country briefs developed by each RTEI research partner:

RTEI 2018 Updated Methodology

Following a robust review of RTEI methodology over the course of 2017, several updates were made to the RTEI Questionnaire and how results were calculated in 2018, most notably:

“Insufficient Data”

Previously, if data for a particular question was missing for more than 50 percent of country respondents, the question was dropped from score calculation for all countries to maintain comparability. Missing data was then accounted for by constructing a Data Availability subtheme, which was the proportion of questions answered with available government data out of all questions in the Questionnaire. This was captured as a subtheme under Governance and treated the same as other subthemes in score calculation.

In 2018, the missing data threshold was lowered to 20 percent, removing a question from calculation for all countries if 20 percent or more of them did not have data to complete that question, and a Data Availability subtheme was constructed as before. While this strengthens comparability across countries, it can skew theme or subtheme scores when they are reduced to fewer questions. Rather than reporting a score in those cases, if 50 percent or more of applicable questions within a theme or subtheme do not have data available in a particular country, “insufficient data” is now reported for that country’s theme or subtheme.

Progressively Realized Obligations

Obligations to economic, social, and cultural rights like the right to education can fall into two categories: immediate (that a State must immediately ensure are upheld) and progressive (that are realized over time, based on available resources). Previously, a country’s available resources were factored into questions related to progressively realizable obligations by using GDP PPP per capita in the following formula:

1 – (1 – x) (log GDP PPP per capita of respondent country /μlog GDP PPP per capita of all participating countries)

where x is the question response score

In 2018, this has been updated to use GNI as a more comprehensive measure of available resources, along with additional adjustments to increase robustness, as follows:

1 – (1 – x) (ln GNI PPP per capita of respondent country /ln GNI PPP per capita of world)

where x is the question response score

Structural, Process, and Outcome Indicators

Monitoring economic, social, and cultural rights like the right to education can also be done by categorizing indicators as structural (legal and policy commitments), process (implementation of those commitments), and outcome (citizen enjoyment of the right to education). Previously, the overall Index score was calculated as an average of theme scores, which were the average of their respective subtheme scores, which were the average of their respective question response scores (except for Data Availability, which was uniquely constructed as described above). However, this can result in potentially unintuitive scores due to the proportionally greater number of structural and process indicators in the Questionnaire compared to outcome indicators and the greater visibility of outcomes. For example, the United States scoring lower than Nigeria in RTEI 2016 is unintuitive against their respective educational outcomes but understood when considering the number of international treaties that the United States has not ratified and the lack of a federal guarantee of the right to education and diverse protections at the state level.

In 2018, a more balanced reflection of structural, process, and outcome progress towards the right to education has been achieved by making the overall Index score the average of all available and applicable structural, process, and outcome indicators in the Questionnaire and weighting them to comprise 15 percent, 15 percent, and 70 percent of the Index score, respectively. The Data Availability subtheme score acts as a weight to the structural score. Theme and subtheme score calculations have remained the same, still strongly driven by structural and process indicators and allowing for easier identification of weaknesses in the education system.

RTEI 2018 results are now available to be explored by country, theme, or on the map on rtei.org, or download the complete data set. Further detail on methodology can also be found in the RTEI 2018 Methodology Update. Select RTEI 2018 partners are now preparing to implement in-country advocacy strategies in 2019 based on their findings.

We thank all RTEI 2018 partners for their energetic research and commitment to monitoring the right to education in their countries. We look forward to conducting the next round of RTEI research with them and partners from additional countries in RTEI 2020!