Geospatial Data in Educational Planning and Management


Building the right school in the right place at the right time, creating educational programmes or services that take into account geographic constraints, social challenges, and local economic realities: planning is always a matter of context. This IIEP-UNESCO development program explores ways to improve micro-planning, using geolocalized data previously inaccessible due to the lack of sufficiently powerful technologies.

Educational planners have always relied on geolocalized data to produce their diagnoses and recommendations. However, the emergence of information technology now makes it possible to process large amounts of highly accurate data at low cost - and therefore to better adapt educational policies to changing local needs and contexts.

Led by IIEP and its partners, the Geospatial Data in Educational Planning and Management programme aims to develop new tools and methodologies that rethink the integration of location-based data into educational practices.


Why focus on geospatial data?

To inform national sector plans, educational planning must take into account local characteristics at the level of smaller communities. This is the approach IIEP has been advocating for many decades. Cross-referencing data from the education system with geo-referenced information enables educational planners and managers to generate highly contextualized policies that ensure that the education system is responsive to the needs of local communities:

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

What is geospatial data?

  • Geospatial data is geolocalized information, i.e. a particular point on the earth. This can take the form of very precise geographic coordinates or a broader geographic position such as a neighbourhood, city, or country. It is also referred to as georeferenced data or geographic data.
  • In the context of educational planning and management, schools are often georeferenced in Education Management Information Systems (EMIS). Ministries can then analyze a school's geographic position in relation to other local factors, such as health centers, water points, safe roads, higher education institutions, or even in relation to socio-economic or demographic data, such as regional resources and assets.
  • Technologies available to produce such information include geospatial information systems (GIS), earth observation and remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), and 3D laser scanning. New information and communication technologies related to these tools continue to emerge.

Through this programme, IIEP collaborates with experts, academics, and practitioners to develop methodologies and practical tools to improve current knowledge and techniques in micro-planning. And thus provide education authorities with increasingly refined solutions to meet the expectations of their communities, according to local constraints and contexts.

Amélie A. Gagnon - Head of Development at IIEP-UNESCO

Geospatial Data: what IIEP has to offer

Professional development and capacity building

  • Basic and on-demand training in specialized software for the use of geospatial data in micro-planning and school mapping.
  • Two-week specialized courses on micro-planning and school mapping.

Technical support to States

  • Analysis of geo-referenced data and their potential to influence the management of the education system, including risk and vulnerability planning.
  • Information for policy dialogue, through the assessment of different scenarios and policy options.
  • Case studies and technical notes on the preparation of statistical atlases, the use of matrix data to estimate school-age populations, or the use of spatial econometric methodologies, for example.
  • Advice on the inclusion of geospatial data in EMIS and on various data collection initiatives.

It should be noted that IIEP does not collect its own geo-referenced data: the data used are either open source or produced by the Member States concerned, or their partners. They include data on schools, such as equipment, infrastructure, teachers, students, socio-demographic characteristics, household information, etc.

This development project responds specifically to IIEP's priorities 1 and 4 for the period 2018-2021

Learn more about IIEP's 2018-2021 strategy


Our methodology

IIEP's development programme is designed in collaboration with external experts, companies, and computer science students. It is based on various approaches and strategies including:

  1. in-depth case studies focusing on countries that use school mapping and micro-planning as part of their planning approach,
  2. expert papers and technical notes,
  3. expert meetings, bringing together practitioners of spatial econometrics.

The objective is to define and design methodologies, which will then be transformed into practical tools, in collaboration with scientists and data developers. All products resulting from this project will be developed using free and open-source software and will be based on data already available at the level of ministries of education or through data exchange platforms.

IIEP is very attentive to international discussions on geospatial systems, such as the consultations on the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF).

Four questions to better understand our programme

The Geospatial Data in Educational Planning and Management project seeks to provide answers to the following questions:

  1. Which stages of the planning cycle can be improved by incorporating geospatial data analysis?
  2. What are the current methods being used by ministries of education within the planning cycle, and how do they use, or not use, georeferenced information?
  3. Which methodologies correspond with which stage of the planning cycle?
  4. What operational steps need to be taken to ensure that the methodologies help to improve the decision-making process without imposing excessive barriers to entry?


Our notes and publications

Find work related to the Geospatial Data in Education Planning and Management programme.

Executive summary

Geospatial Data Reference Publications