Data Must Speak

User-friendly data empower decision makers to improve education for all children.

Frederik Leenknecht, UNICEF Zambia

To address challenges that keep children from going to school and learning, decision makers need data. Information on who's missing out on education and why is critical for building stronger and more equitable education systems. With reliable data, policymakers, school managers, teachers and communities can identify problems, pose solutions and direct resources where they are most needed.

In recent years, data access and quality have greatly improved. Education systems around the world are already collecting large amounts of data from their schools and districts. Too often, though, the data are used to produce long reports, and not much else.

Data must not sleep. Data must speak.

When data are more effectively shared in user-friendly formats, education practitioners can learn from past experiences to drive future success – allocating financial and human resources more fairly to benefit students in need.

Information also enables communities to take action and drive change. In 2014, UNICEF launched the Data Must Speak Initiative, which helps countries unlock existing data to expand access to education and improve learning for all. Data Must Speak strives to ensure that:


Data drive policy decisions

Government officials at all levels must analyze and use data to inform resource allocation and manage education systems fairly.

Communities are empowered

Evidence shows that when communities are provided with information on the local education situation, access, enrolment and learning outcomes improve. We create easy-to-use profile cards, accessible to low-literacy audiences, to help parents, teachers and students stay informed and hold school managers to account.

Research improves knowledge

Rigorous evaluations expose what works and what doesn’t in education systems. We conduct randomized control trials on school profile cards and produce case studies on the association between communal participation and school performance in multiple countries around the world.

In May 2017, a Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) team member tests the reading ability of 9-year-old Kim Yong Ok in the Democratic Republic of Korea. Survey teams visit around 8,500 households throughout the country to gather important data on children and women, including those related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Data Must Speak on the ground

In collaboration with national stakeholders, Data Must Speak develops context-specific tools and resources for understanding education data. These materials can be shared with and adapted for other country settings, arming communities around the world with information on how their schools are resourced and how they perform relative to others.



Contact us

For further information, please contact Nicolas Reuge (