By Muriel Poisson, IIEP-UNESCO


The use of school report cards. 

The international community has set an ambitious goal for the education sector at the 2030 horizon: to ensure equitable quality education for all (SDG 4). At the same time, research work conducted by IIEP*, international agencies and research institutions over the past decade demonstrate that corruption constitutes a major obstacle to the achievement of such a goal. How can we promote quality education when resources are not allocated or used in a transparent and accountable way? Hence the importance of combining SDG4 with another goal set by the international community, namely SDG 16. This sustainable development goal includes among its targets the reduction of corruption and bribery, and the development of effective, accountable and transparent institutions. 

IIEP’s new publication “Promoting transparency through information: A global review of school report cards” ** highlights the positive impact that school report cards can have on improving transparency and accountability in education systems if certain requirements are met. School report cards (SRCs) contain the aggregation of education information on schools, such as enrolment, funding, facilities, teachers, or students’ academic performance. These requirements include, amongst others, the incorporation of anti-corruption elements into SRCs: the presentation of data using graphic elements in a clear and simple way, the sharing of information in a timely manner, and the creation of mechanisms to encourage and ensure public discussion of information.

The Community scorecards developed in Indonesia in 2014 constitute a prime example. Consultations are held among teachers, community members, and student alumni in order to identify key problems and decide on the content of the community scorecard. Community members are asked to identify 5 to 8 “integrity indicators” on this basis – teacher absenteeism being one of them. Indicators also focus on the public availability of school management information, the conduct of social audits by school management committees, the use of complaint mechanisms, etc. A user committee is tasked with monitoring and scoring each indicator on a monthly basis, and posting results in a public space.

The IIEP study concludes that “a systemic approach that links the capability of a central authority (e.g. access to resources, information capacity, a more unified political resource/vision) with the recipients’ power (e.g. personal awareness of education needs, increasing desire for animation, potentially strong desire to improve) is important to most effective SRCs initiatives”. This question is at the core of the Institute’s new research project on open education data in education. Successful open data initiatives necessitate an enhanced dialogue between a trio of stakeholders, namely government education officers and planners, parent representatives, and civil society organizations (CSOs) actively involved in the empowerment of citizens through information.


* Download IIEP publications on ethics and corruption in education

** Read Xuejiao Joy Cheng; Kurt Moses. 2016. Promoting transparency through information: A global review of school report cards. Ethics and corruption in education. IIEP-UNESCO

Visit the ETICO Platform of resources

Download IIEP book on “Transparency in education. Report Card in Bangladesh” (2004) 


SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 16 targets:

16.5: Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms

16.6: Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels 


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