One of the challenges for educational planners and policy makers in Eastern Caribbean countries has been to provide equitable access to educational facilities and quality learning environments to all children. Despite the advances in information technologies and services, there is a lack of digital maps and platforms that display the location of the schools, their attributes (students, teachers, school type) and level of access to school facilities (internet, computers, WASH) in a comprehensive and easily accessible way.
UNICEF, in collaboration with the OECS Commission, will map the schools and their level of access to facilities and connectivity in real-time, in order to identify gaps, measure vulnerabilities and risks and optimize emergency response and service delivery. In regular contexts, school maps provide a comprehensive visual snapshot of educational facilities and basic information such as child coverage by schools; the number of teachers; the availability of internet and computers; access for children with special needs, among other information. It also presents an opportunity to overlay school infrastructure information with other datasets such as survey and big data sources on poverty status, education attendance levels and, mobile connectivity in districts. In emergency contexts, data from school mapping is useful in assessing the susceptibility of schools or sites to hazards as a part of emergency preparedness. It can also be repurposed to show gaps in coverage, location of school shelters, and areas where basic services are available.
In addition, the data will be used to identify the need for connectivity, aggregate demand across member states and used to create a common bid that will bring connectivity to schools in the region.