6.1 The importance of reliable data and the capacity to use it well, is a thread which runs through this paper. Achieving targets, whether they are for UPE in 2015, or the sometimes more ambitious targets which some countries have set themselves, requires that priorities are set, resources allocated, performance monitored and impact assessed against learning and equity outcomes. Good, gender-disaggregated data and analysis are essential, if progress is to be properly measured and lessons learned. They are also essential for the accountability which developing country governments must have to their citizens, the accountability which funding agencies must have to those who provide their resources, and for the accountability which development partners, both governments and funding agencies, must have to each other. At the international level, progress towards meeting the targets needs to be captured systematically to allow for meaningful comparative analysis.
6.2 In all of this, the emphasis must be on institutionalising monitoring and evaluation within government systems, rather than on producing data to satisfy particular funding agency requirements. There is a set of indicators linked to the International Development Targets, which in the case of education relate to enrolment and literacy. They form a core around which governments, civil society and funding agencies can focus, but they do not, by themselves, capture all that needs to be known about education. Where other useful statistics can be collected relatively easily - for example, gender-disaggregated attendance data - the core can be expanded. The data set can be enriched in cost-effective ways by integrating qualitative approaches - random surveys of parents, for example - into government monitoring and management systems. Concentrating on a limited, agreed range of key indicators will minimise the burden on scarce human and other resources, and should help to provide a framework for co-ordinated efforts to enhance capacity.
6.3 Improved education outcomes take time to materialise and the process by which they are produced is complex. In any given country situation, there will be a range of actions which would not individually deliver the impact which is sought, but which must be taken to ensure that targets are met. Monitoring progress against these necessary but insufficient conditions can both allow governments to check that their programmes remain on track, and permit funding agencies to assure their domestic constituencies that their money is being used effectively.
6.4 International agencies will be particularly interested in indicators of the breadth and depth of government commitment. These might include the agreement of coherent policy statements and well-defined and costed education strategies, supported by evidence that commitment is manifested in the allocation of resources and in actual expenditure. They would also wish to see the existence of mechanisms to engage civil society from the level of the household upwards in the definition and delivery of the governments education strategy. Both governments and funding agencies will be keen to identify practical milestones of achievement which might include interim targets for new or refurbished classrooms, minimal levels of training for all teachers, agreed percentage increases in the number of women headteachers, increased allocations to non-salary expenditure, and greater availability of basic texts and other learning materials in classrooms.
6.5 The capacity to produce accurate and timely data, to undertake analysis and to feed back lessons into policy-making, is weak in many countries. DFID will work closely with other agencies to enhance this vital capacity, recognising that it cannot be built sustainably in part of a government system in isolation, and that assistance needs to be integrated into broader-based programmes of government reform. The effectiveness of capacity-building efforts will be far greater if they are concentrated around a set of core indicators, and not focused on diverse funding agency interests, as too often happened in the past. Work is underway, including through the DAC, to define and agree a workable set of core indicators. More attention will also need to be given to the lower levels of the system, including to basic financial reporting, since these provide the essential underpinnings for sound, integrated monitoring and evaluation.
6.6 International capacity to collate and analyse education statistics needs to be strengthened. DFID strongly supports the establishment of UNESCOs new Institute of Statistics, which has the potential to promote the development of capacity needed to address this crucial task. The Institute may need to continue top work through regional organisations, such as the National Education Statistical Information Systems project that is working in sub-Saharan Africa. The assessment to prepare for the World Education Forum provided important signposts for further international action to improve performance assessment, and highlighted the core indicators which will better enable the international community to monitor progress against the targets. Programmes such as the Southern African Consortium for the Measurement of Education Quality, offer useful models for the development of capacity at regional and country levels.
6.7 There are challenges here too for DFID and other agencies. The move away from the discrete project model towards the provision of more flexible support to governments own education strategies, requires a change of approach to monitoring and evaluation. It broadens the notion of accountability, moving away from a narrow concentration on the transformation of agency-funded inputs into project outputs, to a focus on our contribution to education outcomes as part of a joint endeavour between governments and development partners. This shared accountability approach means that, in assessing their own effectiveness, funding agencies should rely increasingly on the sort of performance information which should be routinely produced by governments themselves for their own use.
6.8 This new approach is reflected in the targets which DFID has set itself under the Public Service Agreement covering the period 2001-04. The linkages between DFIDs inputs - spending and activities - and impact in terms of progress towards the targets are complex and difficult to quantify. However the PSA provides a logical basis for linking the performance of DFID programmes with the achievement of its overall objectives, and in consequence with the contribution which the Department is making towards reaching the international development targets.
6.9 The availability of better data at national and international levels will allow governments, civil society and agencies to get a clear view of progress towards the targets, to identify regions, countries or even districts where there are particular problems, and to take appropriate action. This will need to be informed by a deeper understanding of what policies are working and why, which groups remain excluded and why, and so on. This underlines the need for a qualitative element in monitoring and evaluation systems, and for a more effective application of research and knowledge resources to understanding the process of change. It also underlines the need for increased opportunities for developing countries to share experiences, and to learn from each other.