Data for Decision Making completes first implementation in Myanmar

From November 27 – 29, the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation (MBPAF) conducted the first full implementation of the Data for Decision Making curriculum in Yangon, Myanmar. The curriculum, developed collaboratively by TASCHA and MBAPF, builds the capabilities of research organizations, government ministries, and civil society organizations (CSOs) to collect, analyze, and use quality data for evidence-based decision making. The training was designed to help participants understand each stage of the data lifecycle, as well as learn basic skills in how to design data projects and use visualization software for analysis and reporting of results. TASCHA researchers were present to observe how the curriculum has been contextualized for Myanmar and begin assessing skill and behavior changes participants see as a result of the training.

Demographics of participants

  • 34 total participants were present for the training.
  • The vast majority of training participants came from government ministries, including the Ministry of Education, Information, and the Office of Regional Development (74% of all participants). 24% came from civil society and one participant was from academia.
  • Nearly half of all participants were women.
  • 27% of all participants were below age 30, 41% of all participants were between 30-39, and 32% were above 40.
  • Educational levels among participants were high — 65% with a University Degree and 30% with post-graduate studies.

Summary of training assessment findings

Participants reported many reasons for attending the training, with learning how to better analyze and visualize data as the most cited. Additionally, participants mentioned learning how to design better surveys and write reports that are more useful for their managers. Of note was agreement by many participants that they face significant challenges “convincing” their managers to use the data for evidence-based policy making.

Almost half of the training participants work with data everyday as part of their job, while 27% work with data a few times a week. Of those who work with data, 44% work with both quantitative and qualitative data, 21% work only with quantitative data, and a handful of participants work only with qualitative data (8%). This finding challenged researchers’ preconceived notions that participants’ work would be primarily with quantitative data.

Participants reported a wide range of data types and sources used in their everyday work, including surveys, census data, pre/post assessment scores, budget, and staffing data. Respondents also reported working with interviews, photographic data, and data collected from social media platforms.  

In light of this first implementation, the research team is considering new changes to the curriculum for future trainings. For example, it appears that there could be an increased consideration of qualitative data for planning data strategies and conceptualizing data sharing and visualization. In addition, based on the reported motivation to ‘convince’ managers to use data for evidence-based policy making, there are plans for the development of a new, compressed module to adapt the training for managers. Finally, the training could provide additional resource suggestions to help participants build skills around data analysis and visualization, which were commonly repeated areas of interest.