In some fragile states, where the education sector has faced direct attack, physical monitoring of development programs becomes a hugely complex and dangerous task. In this context, Afghanistan is an excellent example of how investment in Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) can strengthen overall monitoring systems in a country. In some provinces, there has been an improvement in accountability and transparency but challenges remain.
After the establishment of the interim administration (following the Bonn Conference) in 2001, rebuilding the education sector was one of the first priorities of the new government as well as the international community. However, with no reliable data, planning and financing of the sector proved difficult. Even so, the US$460 million Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP) was launched in 2004, supported by the World Bank and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. Increasing the use of ICT has been a priority under EQUIP II, which is the largest education program in the country. Indeed, the rapid evolution of EMIS has been one of its most important achievements.
When the program began, the EMIS had just a few rudimentary applications and a cumbersome centralized system of data collection. Data pertaining to schools and students used to be collected using a paper based system, and stories abounded of student information sheets being brought to Kabul hidden in vegetable trucks.