Various criteria should be taken into account when determining the thematic focus of yourmonitoring work, including:
Your organisation's remit
Your organisation’s remit may determine the type of monitoring project you undertake. For instance, your organisation may have a pre-determined geographic scope or area of focus, such as promoting women’s rights or the rights of persons with disabilities. In these instances it makes sense to focus your monitoring project on the obstacles that these specific groups face in fully enjoying their right to education.
Issues from the field
You may become aware of education issues from your work in the field or through media reports. For instance, if your organisation brings cases to court and you notice that there is a recurrent problem in the education system, you may decide to carry out a monitoring project to better understand the issue.
The gravity and / or scope of the problem
If you are considering more than one potential thematic focus, you may want to prioritise those problems that affect more people (eg this project that found thatover half of children who finish fifth grade cannot do basic subtraction) and / or that are grave in terms of the violation (egcases of segregation where children from ethnic minority groups are placed into ‘special schools’ with lower quality education).
Your target audience
A key consideration in the focus and scope of your monitoring project is your target audience(s), who you are trying to influence with your monitoring report. Sometimes, the target audience may be theduty-bearer responsible for realising the right to education (eg the Ministry of Education). Other times, the primary target audience of your monitoring exercise may be an institution or mechanism that could influence the duty-bearers. For instance, you may write a monitoring report for a key meeting of the Education Parliamentary Committee, with the expectation that this Committee will have the leverage to influence the government’s policy, or you may write ashadow report for aUN treaty body (see Step 6.2) when a State appears before that mechanism. In this case, the thematic focus of that mechanism will likely inform the thematic focus of your monitoring exercise, as explainedhere.
The allotted time for the monitoring exercise
If your monitoring project is meant to be submitted in an event or meeting with a fixed date (eg a UN conference or the inauguration of a new government) you may need to narrow the parameters of the monitoring project, in order to ensure you will have sufficient time to carry it out.
Skills of those carrying out the monitoring exercise
The aims of the monitoring project should be achievable by the people conducting the research. It is vitally important that you honestly assess the capacities of those involved and that you are able to enlist the expertise and skills of others if needed. For instance, it might be difficult to focus your monitoring on the financing of the education system, if you are not able to enlist – either in your own organisation or amongst other partners – people with some experience and skills on budget analysis. See Step 1.4 for further information on collaborating with others.
The leverage your organisation has to influence policy changes on a specific issue related to the right to education will often be the key criterion in determining whether you should focus your monitoring work on that issue. This is because, as we saw in Why monitor the right to education?, one of the key goals of monitoring the right to education is to influence policy-makers to fully commit to theprogressive realisation of that right. In some cases, you may choose to focus on a specific issue because there is a unique window of opportunity to influence the government on that issue. Other times, you may decide not to focus on an issue because, after analysing the political environment in the country, you reach the conclusion that the political obstacles areinsurmountable. If your organisation works at the regional or global level, you may decide to focus your monitoring efforts on a State that is up for review by a UN treaty body or other human rights mechanism.
For further information on advocacy strategies, see Step 6.2.