Using digital tools to promote transparency and accountability



Digital tools have the potential to overhaul the management of education systems, while also fostering transparency and accountability within the sector. For example, data portals can inform citizens about the amounts of funds allocated to schools, satellite systems can monitor school locations and construction, and artificial intelligence can perform automated audits and monitor public spending in schools. Digital tools can also address pressing issues such as ghost teachers, absenteeism, examination fraud, forged certificates, and fake diplomas.

Digging deeper: how digital tools counter corruption in education 

Given the myriad of digital tools available today, IIEP is examining how they can accelerate progress to make education more transparent and accountable. This research also aims to fill a knowledge gap on how such tools combat corruption in education management. Unlike most existing research which is predominately predictive, this research seeks to offer systematic insights into the real impact of digital tools today. This is especially important amid mounting concerns about the digital divide, reliance on for-profit digital industries, and personal data breaches. 

“There is a pressing need today to document and assess digital initiatives in the management of the education sector and understand their effects on transparency and accountability.” Muriel Poisson, IIEP-UNESCO team leader for Knowledge Management and Mobilization 


Mapping out digital tools 

Considering the lack of analysis on digital tools to improve transparency and accountability, this research will initially map out the range of ICT tools available today in relation to planning and management issues. An in-depth analysis will cover several initiatives, documenting the perspectives and attitudes of administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The research will then assess the impact of ICT tools and the ongoing challenges in their application. 

 For this research, the focus will be on: 

Student and teacher allocation

Exams, certification, and diplomas

Control and audit mechanisms

Building on extensive IIEP research 

IIEP has over 20 years of experience in conducting research and carrying out capacity-building activities on issues related to transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption measures in education. This latest research builds on two recently completed international research projects on open school data and open government, which are also featured on the ETICO resource platform

Investigating four research questions 

  1. How effective are digital tools to address fraud and corruption in education? Are some digital tools more effective than others and what are the enabling conditions? 
  2. How do institutional cultures and individual attitudes towards new digital tools influence their usefulness and impact? How do they differ according to gender, age, and socio-economic background? 
  3. What practical issues and challenges are associated with the implementation of new digital tools, especially as regards privacy and surveillance? 
  4. What risks are emerging from the growing dependence of public authorities on for-profit industries that propose tailor-made solutions to management issues?

Sharing new knowledge, building strong communities 

As part of this project, IIEP will: 

  • Produce state-of-the-art applied research on educational planning and management,
  • Develop and adapt methodologies, norms, and tools,
  • Develop constructive synergies with partners and stakeholders,
  • Support communities of practice with resources and opportunities,
  • Provide a flexible and responsive training offer that meets the needs of UNESCO Member States. 


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ETICO portal

All the resources produced and collected by IIEP are brought together on the thematic platform dedicated to ethics and corruption in education, ETICO. Conceived as a dynamic database, it offers information, tools, and resources in three languages – English, French, and Spanish – intended for anyone interested in issues of transparency and accountability in the education sector.