EMIS (Education Management Information System), simply put, is the system for collecting, storing, analysis, dissemination and the use of data within educational system.
EMIS is a tool that countries should use as the means for strategic planning in education. Apart from enabling rapid and easily accessible statistics to be used by different subjects within the educational system, depending on its complexity and design, EMIS can enable additional functionalities, like issuing licences for educational program and institutions, enabling parents an insight into their children's grades, providing insight into the needs for professional development of teachers or the needs for infrastructural investments, etc.
EMIS systems differ from one country to another, and sometimes there are local differences even within the same country. The most significant factors impacting the differences between different EMIS systems are the political system of a country, availability of technological infrastructure, as well as social attitudes towards data and its use.
Numerous elements can be integrated within EMIS system. For example, EMIS system in Afghanistan that De Silva and Valsangkar (2015) mention as a good example of introduction of IT in education consists of several subsystems containing numerous data on: students (identification and demographic data, grades, GPA, conduct), teaching staff (education, professional training), schools (location, number of students, classes, educational profiles, additional features), school infrastructure and property, results of educational outcomes analysis, the system for issuing diplomas and certificates, the system for HR monitoring of non-teaching staff, etc.
UN SDG4 – a change of paradigm
The Strategic Development Goal 4 (SDG4) of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pertains to education and emphasizes the importance of providing inclusive, equitable and high-quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all people.
With regard to UN Millennium Development Goal 2 that emphasized the universal access to primary education and pointed out only one goal – ensuring that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling, SDG4 observes education more widely, as a lifelong process, including the early development of a child, primary and secondary education, vocational and tertiary education, as well as skills through workplace learning and entrepreneurship.
This change of focus from primary education to learning, perceived as a lifelong process, imposes new challenges regarding data that should be available within the EMIS systems, which now need to measure much wider and more complex indicators of goal fulfilment. In other words, these indicators need to be able to measure not only the rate of enrolment, attendance and successful completion of an educational cycle or program, but they should also be able to indicate its quality and relevance.
In such a situation it is no longer enough to use data only from the formal education institutions, but data need to be collected in other ways and from other sectors, in order to enable reviewing the relation of education outcomes to other areas of social and economic development through EMIS, like impact of education to poverty reduction, health status or employability.
Current situation in majority of countries is such that data are collected only from the educational sector. However, data on some of the indicators cannot be collected in that way, such as data on health and psycho-social welfare of children up to 5 years of age, data on participation in informal education, number of children not included in the school system, etc. To collect this data, maybe the most appropriate thing would be to use the demographic data from household surveys.
UNESCO Institute for Statistics Report for 2018
UNESCO Institute for Statistics Report for 2018 shows that the rates of realization of the systemic data collection for the indicators measuring the fulfilment of sub-goals within SDG4 differ greatly, depending on indicators. For example, the indicators regarding promotion of sustainable development and global citizenship, as well as those pertaining to literacy and numeracy outcomes are virtually not covered with appropriate data on the national level. On the other hand, the most data are available on the indicators relating to the rates of enrolment and successful completion of educational programs.
Apart from differences in systematically collected data related to indicators, there are also great differences regarding the sectors of education. UNESCO Report shows that there are the least useful data in the field of adult education and informal education. There are also not many data measuring the effects of education at all levels.
To reduce these differences, qualitative, rather than quantitative indicators need to be established for some of the sub-goals, and long-term monitoring of status needs to be ensured through enabling the so-called longitudinal data.
However, to make EMIS able to respond to these increasing demands, it is essential to connect it with data from other information systems, like demographic data, labour market data, health data, etc. This enables creation of a more complex enquiries and deeper monitoring of the effects of education. For example, connecting EMIS with the health information system enables monitoring the relation between education and health variables, like the impact of introduction of sexual education in schools on the rate of youth with STDs, or early pregnancy and abortion rates. If EMIS is connected to data on labour market trends, conclusions on usefulness and appropriateness of the skills adults possess can be drawn, and effects of programs of retraining can be evaluated. This surely imposes the question of uniformity of data and standardization of data collecting, storing and processing, so that these data can easily be used and compared.
Re-orienting Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning, UNESCO (Miguel Subosa, Mark West), 2018
The impact of education management information systems: the case of Afghanistan [Blog post], World Bank (Samantha de Silva,Pradeep Valsangkar), 2015