2.1 Select outcome indicators

This step starts with a brief explanation of the importance ofoutcome indicators inmonitoring the right to education.

It then goes on to explain how to use theIndicators Selection Tool  to select the most appropriate outcome indicators to measure the extent to which there are deprivations or inequalities in the enjoyment of the right to education relevant to the problem that you are seeking to solve.

Before starting this step, ensure that your project’s monitoring objectives are clearly defined and the scope sufficiently narrow, otherwise you will end up with a very long list of indicators. See Step 1.1 for further guidance.

The role of outcome indicators in monitoring the right to education

In order to gather evidence of violations of the right to education, you will first need to know the level of enjoyment of the right to education relevant to the focus of your monitoring project. For example, if your work is focused on the impact of armed conflict on girls’ access to education, you will need evidence that attendance rates have been adversely affected. Attendance and other metrics of right to education enjoyment are measured using outcome indicators.

Outcome indicators are important because they provide a snapshot of the level of enjoyment of the right to education. They can also be used to assess the impact of a State’s policy efforts and help evaluate whether States – as the primaryduty-bearer of the right to education – are complying with their human rights obligations.

Outcome indicators can help assess whether a State is complying with itsminimum core obligations, as data can reveal the extent to which the population is deprived of the most basic elements of the right to education.

Outcome indicators can also be used to measure theprogressive realisation of the right to education according tomaximum available resources, as data collected at intervals enables you to measure human rights progression orretrogression over time according to the level of a country’s development.

Furthermore,disaggregated data for outcome indicators can reveal inequalities in the enjoyment of the right to education by gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status or geographic location (eg urban / rural) which may be the result of the discriminatory effects of governmentpolicies.

It is important to remember that even if the data for the outcome indicators you have selected are suggestive of deprivations and inequalities, this does not necessarily mean that they are unavoidable and thus violations (see A monitoring framework). Sometimes, despite the State’s best efforts, the situation on the ground cannot be easily changed or improved. For example, economic reasons may temporary prevent students from poor families from attending upper-secondary education in countries with limited resources, such as in post-conflict contexts. The State may do its best to progressively implement the right to education but may not have the resources to offer grants at this level of education. It may also be the case that the impact of policies is not immediate, for instance when a State adopts measures to ensure the right to education of marginalised groups, it may take years to see an effect on the ground, and even longer for the data to reflect an improvement.

Establish your shortlist of outcome indicators using the Indicators Selection Tool

To select appropriate outcome indicators for your monitoring purposes, using theIndicators Selection Tool:

  1. Go to the Types of Indicators criteria and selectOutcome Indicators. This will give you a list of the seventeen outcome indicators.
  2. You can then narrow down the indicators list by selecting the criteria relevant to the focus of your monitoring work. For instance, if the thematic focus of your monitoring initiative includes access to primary education, you would filter down the selection of outcome indicators by choosingPrimary under the category Levels and Types of Education andAccess to Education within Areas of Focus. If your monitoring theme focuses on the right to education for migrants, you would filter down the choice of outcome indicators by choosing the sub-categoryMigrants, Refugees and IDPS within the criteria Marginalised Groups. If your project focuses on the right to education during armed conflict, selectArmed Conflict (Including Child Soldiers)  under the criteria Contexts.

It is important to remember that human rights monitoring is an iterative process. It is difficult to know the entire list of indicators that will be useful, until you have collected the relevant data. You should therefore be open to the possibility of adding further indicators at a later date.

Adapt your indicators

A key criterion for selecting an indicator is the extent to which it reflects an aspect of the right to education. However, in some instances there may not be data available for the indicator proposed by theTool  and you may wish to substitute this indicator for another that still captures the essence of the applicable human rights standard. For instance,primary completion rates are often used to measure the extent to which the right to free and compulsory primary education is enjoyed, however if there is no data available for your country or time-frame you can use theout-of-school rate for children of primary school age and failing that, theprimary net enrolment rate (which is in fact more a measure of access to education but nevertheless still tells you something about the enjoyment of the right to free and compulsory primary education). The Tool will provide you with all alternative indicators relevant to the criteria you choose.

One aspect of the right to education that you may need to find additional or alternative indicators for is thequality of education. This is because according to human rights law, theaims of education are to develop the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities and his or her human dignity, self-esteem and self-confidence. Learning assessments and test results, therefore, do not fully measure outcomes in education quality. There is no consensus on reliable indicators regarding the development of a child’s personality that can be universally applied to all countries, contexts and marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities. Therefore, the Tool only provides outcome indicators for basic intellectual skills, such as literacy and numeracy.

When monitoring the quality of education, outcome indicators are rarely sufficient. You should also look atstructural andprocess indicators as they can better capture dynamic concepts. This is because structural and process indicators, unlike outcome indicators, tend to bequalitative rather than quantitative. A good research project should use both types of data. Examples of process and structural indicators include:Are there any established mechanisms that enable parents, children and / or community leaders to contribute to defining school curricula? andDo curriculum guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education include promoting respect for other nations, racial, ethnic or religious groups and indigenous people?

To monitor the right to education using structural and process indicators, see Step 3.