Geospatial data in educational planning and management



Educational planning is a matter of context. 

From building the right school in the right place at the right time to providing social services that complement education; from creating a curriculum that reflects local realities to taking into account the risks and challenges of the social and physical landscape, educational planning is anchored in adapting the delivery of education to the communities it serves.

By mixing education system data with georeferenced information, educational planners and managers can generate highly contextualized policies, ensuring: 

  1. greater equality in the distribution of educational opportunities,
  2. better adaptation of these opportunities to the needs of local communities, and
  3. more efficient use of all available resources.


What are geospatial data?

Geospatial information or data are linked to a particular location on earth. They are also known as geographic, georeferenced, or geolocalized data.

The technologies available to produce such information include geospatial information systems (GIS), earth observation and remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS) or global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), and 3D laser scanning. In addition, information and communication technologies related to these tools continue to emerge.


Local contexts, local constraints, local solutions

In the context of educational planning and management, institutions such as schools are often georeferenced through education management information systems (EMIS). Ministries can analyse a school’s geographical position in relation to other local factors (such as health centres, water points, secure roads, settlements, area wealth, and markets) so that programmes and interventions can be precisely planned to meet regional needs. Rather than relying on a national approach, educational authorities can therefore use geospatial data to create targeted policies for specific regions and make a real difference to communities.

IIEP-UNESCO’s expertise

IIEP-UNESCO is developing tools and methodologies for educational planners and managers to help them include geospatial data in their practices. In so doing, they can unlock the potential of geographic information for making educational policies and interventions more responsive to ever-changing local needs and contexts.

IIEP-UNESCO does not collect its own georeferenced data: the data used are either open source or produced by the Member States involved. They include school level data on equipment, infrastructure, teachers, students, sociodemographic characteristics, household information, and more.

What we can offer:

  • Training in specialized software and the use of geospatial data in micro-planning and school mapping.
  • Analysing georeferenced data and their potential for interaction with education system management, including planning for risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Providing insights for policy dialogue, through evaluation of different scenarios and policy options.
  • A two-week specialized training course on micro-planning and school mapping. 
  • Case studies and technical notes on, for example, preparing statistical atlases, using raster data to estimate school-age populations, and using spatial econometrics methodologies.
  • Providing advice on the inclusion of geospatial data in EMIS and different data collection initiatives.


At IIEP-UNESCO, we pay close attention to global discussions about geospatial systems, such as the consultations on the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF). We collaborate with a range of external geospatial experts, firms, and computer science students.

As we continue to build our expertise in the field of geospatial data, we will publish technical notes and information on our most recent projects here.

First webinar on geospatial data



Responsive micro-planning: Executive summary