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Data-based decision making in primary schools in Ethiopia

Ahmed Yibrie Ahmed (Department of Educational Planning and Management, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia)

Journal of Professional Capital and Community

ISSN: 2056-9548

Article publication date: 3 May 2019

Issue publication date: 26 June 2019




The Ethiopian educational system has witnessed considerable structural and curricular changes aimed to address access, equity and relevance. At the same time, there are serious concerns about educational quality as a consequence of these changes. Data use can be an important approach for changing the planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation of activities having the purpose of improving teaching and learning. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to investigate data use in primary education in Ethiopia.


Using a mixed methods approach, surveys and semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect data from a cluster random sample of eight primary schools representing four different levels of effectiveness in implementing a mandated school improvement program in Ethiopia.


The availability of wider ranges of input, process, outcome and context data per se does not ensure actual use. A complex combination of data, user and organizational factors influences data use in schools, with organizational factors appearing to be most influential. Unrealistic accountability pressures and lack of targeted supervision support seemed to cause unintended data use, such as abuse of data.

Practical implications

Schools need more systematic professional development in data use, with explicit attention to school leadership. Moreover, it is important to make educational inspection processes more responsive to the demands of the school improvement process by adding aspects of the school improvement tradition, such as data-based decision making.


This study contributes to understanding of the nature, characteristics and processes of data use in a developing country context, in which competing accountability mandates often shape policy and practice.



Yibrie Ahmed, A. (2019), "Data-based decision making in primary schools in Ethiopia", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 232-259.



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