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Apply Now! School of Data’s 2018 Fellowship Programme

Cédric Lombion - April 16, 2018 in announcement, bolivia, fellowship, ghana, Guatemala, indonesia, kenya, Malawi, philippines, tanzania

School of Data is inviting journalists, data scientists, civil society advocates and anyone interested in advancing data literacy to apply for its 2018 Fellowship Programme, which will run from May 2018 to January 2019. 8 positions are open, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines. The application deadline is set on Sunday, May 6th of 2018. If you would like to sponsor a fellowship, please get in touch with School of Data at Apply for the Fellowship Programme

The Fellowship

Fellowships are nine-month placements with School of Data for data-literacy practitioners or enthusiasts. During this time, Fellows work alongside School of Data to build an individual programme that will make use of both the collective experience of School of Data’s network to help Fellows gain new skills, and the knowledge that Fellows bring along with them, be it about a topic, a community or specific data literacy challenges. Similarly to previous years, our aim with the Fellowship programme is to increase awareness of data literacy and build communities who together, can use data literacy skills to make the change they want to see in the world. The 2018 Fellowship will continue the work in the thematic approach pioneered by the 2016 class. As a result, we will be prioritising candidates who:
  • possess experience in, and enthusiasm for, a specific area of data literacy training

  • can demonstrate links with an organisation practising in this defined area and/or links with an established network operating in the field
We are looking for engaged individuals who already have in-depth knowledge of a given sector or specific skillsets that can be applied to this year’s focus topics.. This will help Fellows get off to a running start and achieve the most during their time with School of Data: nine months fly by! Read More about the Fellowship Programme

The areas of focus in 2018

We have partnered with Hivos and NRGI to work on the following themes: Procurement and data in the extractives industry (oil, mining, gas). These amazing partner organisations will provide Fellows with guidance, mentorship and expertise in their respective domains.

2018 Fellowship Positions

Bolivia The Fellowship in Bolivia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience with and interest in community building, experience with the implementation of civic projects with a data or technical component, storytelling skills, and experience with promoting data or technical stories to a wide audience, basic understanding of the public procurement process Guatemala The Fellowship in Guatemala will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience in the planning, coordination and implementation of projects with civil society organisations, the ability to advise and train organisations on working with data and delivering technical projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process Ghana The Fellowship in Ghana with be focused on extractives Data through the Media Development Programme at NRGI. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: an interest in supporting or working within the civil society sector, experience working with financial (or related) data for analysis experience as a trainer and/or community builder, interest and/or experience in the extractives sector, demonstrated skills as a data storyteller or journalist Malawi The Fellowship in Malawi will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with data collection projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process **Indonesia ** The Fellowship in Indonesia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with working with government systems or data. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences, experience with user design methodologies, experience with community development The Philippines The Fellowship in The Philippines will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with user-centric research and design methodologies, experience with community-building activities, experience with data storytelling. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: graphic design skills, experience with delivering trainings Kenya The Fellowship in Kenya will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with user research and data storytelling, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with facilitating training activities. Tanzania The Fellowship in Tanzania will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience working with journalists or as a journalist, interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with writing pedagogical content 9 months to make an impact The two programmes will run from May to Jan uary 2019, and entail up to 10 days a month of time. While Fellows will be focused on ironing their skills as data trainers and build a community around them, Experts will focus on supporting and training a civil society organisation or newsroom with a specific project. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 USD a month to cover for their work. In May, both Experts and Fellows will come together during an in-person Fellowship Induction Workshop to meet their peers, build and share their skills, and learn about the School of Data way of training people on data skills. What are you waiting for? Read more about School of Data’s Fellowship or Apply now Key Information: Fellowship
  • Available positions: up to 8 fellows, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines

  • Application deadline: May 6th, 2018, midnight GMT+0
  • Duration: From May 14th, 2018 to January 31st, 2019
  • Level of activity: 10 days per month
  • Stipend: $1000 USD per month
Key links About diversity and inclusivity School of Data is committed to being inclusive in its recruitment practices. Inclusiveness means excluding no one because of race, age, religion, cultural appearance, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender. We proactively seek to recruit individuals who differ from one another in these characteristics, in the belief that diversity enriches all that we do. Flattr this!

Open Data Day 2018 at iWatch Africa and Open Knowledge Colombia

Luis Vilches-Blázquez - April 9, 2018 in colombia, Follow the Money, ghana, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

Authors:  Gideon Sarpong, iWatch Africa and Luis M. Vliches-Blazquez, Open Knowledge Colombia This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Within the key area “Follow the money”, 17 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos and Open Knowledge International.

Context

iWatch Africa in Ghana sought to create awareness and train student journalists on the use of data journalism tools and new media to track government budget. Fifty student journalists were selected across the country to mark the event in Ghana. The iWatch Data Day event focused on four main themes:
  • Introduction theme- The importance of open data in deepening democracy in Ghana
  • Effective use of data journalism tools to track government budget in Ghana
  • Training on how to use data visualization to tell effective stories
  • Open Forum- How can data journalists harness the power of the new media to promote transparency and accountability in Africa.
In Bogota (Colombia), we developed a hackathon, called #AlimenData, focused on following and visualizing public money associated with School Feeding National Program of Colombia through a co-creation process where different actors were involved.  #AlimenData was performed in conjunction with public sector and civil society. In this hackathon participated the National Secretary for Transparency, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Open Contracting Partnership, and Open Knowledge Colombia. Thirty-six teams were registered, from which ten multi-disciplinary and high-motivated groups (composed of twenty-seven participants in total) were selected across the country in order to develop their ideas. These teams were composed of different actors (citizens, academia, social actors, local governments, etc.).  

Challenges

The major obstacle to the Open Data campaign in Ghana has to do with government’s reluctance to pass the Right to Information Bill after 17 years of active campaign. Among the major challenges identified by iWatch Africa has to do with access to relevant accounts and financial reports. In some cases, accurate expenditure/transfer records do not exist at all. Here CSOs continue to play an important role putting pressure on the government in collaboration with the media, local level service providers and/or users and the public. The #AlimenData event was revolved around two main challenges for hacking the School Feeding National Program of Colombia. On the one hand, how to identify inconsistencies and/or chances within this National Program in order to follow and optimize public funding? And, on the other hand, how to encourage interest of citizens, researchers and media for taking part in the control process of this National Program? In order to encourage these challenges, we suggested different open data related to School Feeding National Program, from which some datasets were proposed as mandatory ones (datasets related to public funding), and other optional ones were suggested (e.g.: datasets associated with population, education, food prices, etc.). Next, we list several of the suggested open data:

Methodology

iWatch Africa marked the Open Data Day event in Accra by officially issuing a call for participation with specific emphasis on student journalists. Our focus was to create awareness and train student journalists on the use of data journalism tools and new media to track government budget. Fifty student journalists were selected across the country to mark the event in Ghana. Gideon Sarpong, iWatch Africa’s Director of Policy and Content Analysis who delivered a speech on the main theme emphasized the importance of open data in addressing the challenge of corruption in Africa. “Open data in governance is critical to addressing corruption in Ghana as well as developing effective policy reforms and an efficient public sector. It is in the interest of public institutions to join in the open data initiative and actively take steps to open up,” Mr. Sarpong stated. Resource person, Justice Kumordzi addressed the theme; Effective use of Data Journalism tools to effectively track government expenditure/budget in Ghana. Mr, Kumordzi focused on the vital role of data journalism in detecting bottlenecks, inefficiencies and/or corruption in the transfer of public goods and resources. He also noted that open data is a key tool for the government and civil society organizations (CSO) to guard against corruption and work towards ensuring a transparent, accountable and effective public financial management. Banini Kwasi Phillip, Communication Director of iWatch Africa also addressed the theme; The use of Data visualization to tell effective stories. Mr. Phillip demonstrated how various data visualisation tool and systems play an important role to enrich one’s story. His presentation focused on the different methods of data presentation emphasizing the text, graphic and tabular forms of presentations. After a practical session of his presentation, participants held on open forum on the theme; How can data journalists harness the power of the new media to promote transparency and accountability in Africa. Open Knowledge Colombia in conjunction with National Secretary for Transparency, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, and Open Contracting Partnership prepared a complete agenda for the #AlimenData hackathon. In this scenario, we had the participation of different mentors, which talked about the School Feeding National Program, open data, data cleansing, software developing, visualization, and storytelling. These talks, which were complementary with hacking sessions, helped knowing more deeply our context (School Feeding National Program), the selected datasets, and various techniques and tools. Furthermore, our collaborators accompanied and advised to each group when during all the hackathon. Besides these talks, the participants of the hackathon had a chance to participate in a rehearsal session, where each group presented their preliminary proposals during 3 minutes. In this session different teams received feedback from mentors and organizers. Furthermore, different teams also received feedback from members of other teams, performing a collective co-creation process. This process allowed mutual enriching, since teams exchanged useful and multi-disciplinary viewpoints. The point of convergence between the two organisation’s methodology had to do with data visualisation as an important tool to tell effective stories. While #AlimenData hackathon focused on software developing, visualization, iWatch Africa also focused on practical sessions on three key forms of data visualisation, which include; text, graphic and tabular forms of presentations.

Conclusions

Participants during the open forum resolved to focus on four key themes in 2018 as part of their effort to drive the open data conversation to make meaningful impact in policy making decisions in Ghana. These include;
  1. Critical focus on the passage of the Right to information bill
  2. Procurement- Focus on open data regarding procurement contracts in Ghana
  3. Focus on employment data in Ghana
  4. Open government data
The 2018 International Open Data Day conference organized by iWatch Africa is also part of the larger goal of launching the iProcurement Watch initiative mid-2018. On the other hand, different teams addressed the two main challenges that we proposed in the #AlimenData hackathon. Thus, teams presented various proposals at the end of the Open Data Day. Next we highlight some ones:
  • An application for monitoring and reporting dietary and nutritional supplements.
  • A platform for monitoring the delivery of food portions.
  • A web platform for integrating different datasets related to School Feeding National Program of Colombia.
  • A tool for visualizing characteristics associated with contracting process of this National Program.
The organizers of this hackathon chose one project as winner. The selected one proposed an email service for communicating to parents the menu of each week using open data and blockchain technology. This proposal allows that parents can monitor and report the existing differences between the contracted menu in the context of School Feeding National Program of Colombia and the menu received for their children (students). The work on the projects that has been started during Open Data Day will continue, since we are working with different Governmental bodies in Colombia in order to develop some of these prototypes and to improve School Feeding National Program of Colombia.

The State of Open Data in Ghana: Policy

David Selassie Opoku - October 20, 2015 in fellowship, ghana, Policy

open-data-barometer

2014 chloropleth of Open Data Barometer Readiness and Impact

 

I joined the School of Data in April as one of the fellows for 2015. As a data scientist and software developer who had moved back to Accra in August 2014 — after 8 years of being away from school, — I wanted to understand the key stakeholders of the open data community and what role I could play in strengthening their work. I wanted to know what the State of Open Data in Ghana was.

Taking a pulse of any community, especially at a national level is never simple and will be always filled with degrees of subjectivity. This coupled with a young global Open Data movement, introduces challenges in identifying the right stakeholders who themselves are still trying to understand whether and where they fit into this nascent ecosystem.

In trying to assess the state of the Ghana open data community, I looked at 3 main areas: Policy, Research and Innovation, Capacity-Building.

I will be sharing my thoughts around these 3 areas over a series of blog posts. With these, I hope to start a conversation around the Open Data movement in Ghana which leads to more collaboration and innovation. So for this first post, I will talk about the State of Open Data in Ghana from a policy perspective.


Open Data Policy in Ghana


ghanaportal

Ghana Open Data Initiative portal


Ghana Open Data Initiative

Search for the term “Open Data Ghana” on any search platform and you will be presented with a list of links on initiatives and events — portals, conferences, hackathons, grants etc — dating back to 2010 and 2012. First among these is one for the Ghana Open Data Initiative (GODI), a platform created to release public data sets for easy access and use by ordinary citizens.

The origins of the Open Data movement in Ghana can be traced back to a Web Foundation project in August 2010. This established an initial partnership with the government of Ghana through the National Information and Technology Agency (NITA), which eventually served as the agency responsible for implementing GODI. It was created in 2012 as a platform and framework to promote the release of government data for public re-use. It was

“to promote efficiency, transparency and accountability in governance as well as to facilitate economic growth by means of the creation of Mobile and Web applications for the Ghanaian and world markets.”

The vision was to start off with a repository of government data from which journalists, developers, advocacy groups and citizens could access for numerous civic, social and economic benefits. With this came several hackathons and workshop by organisations to unleash the power of these data sets through capacity-building, research and innovation.

laws and regulation RTI

Right to Information Law

GODI is a major endeavour and in its infancy, it will lack many data sets that ideally should be readily available to the public. In such cases, interested parties should have the ability to request the release of specific data from public institutions. This is where the Right to Information(RTI) Law comes to play. Other names for this are the Freedom to Information(FOI) law and Access to Information law.

Efforts to pass a RTI law in Ghana has been ongoing for about 13 years. However, there is growing work by advocacy and media groups, parliament and ordinary citizens to ensure the passing of a law. After many years of consultation, Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary “advanced an amended right to information bill for consideration by the full Parliament.” This means as of October 10 2015, Ghana has no RTI law! In order to strengthen the Ghana open data movement, it is important to have in place the RTI law as a tool for open data enthusiasts to request access to relevant data.

The effort to pass the RTI law in Ghana has been long and it is worth highlighting the continued work by many advocacy organisations and individuals invested in making this a law:

There are many more advocacy groups and individuals who have contributed to advancing the RTI bill to this point not listed above. Their work continues to be essential and is worth supporting. If you know of any, please do share.

The way forward

What is the way forward with regards to policy? Ghana’s Open Data movement is young and this means there is a lot to learn, understand and implement to reach the standard of a world-class open data community. Ensuring that the right laws and mandates are in place and executed is key to creating the foundation for stakeholders to research, innovate and build capacity with open data. Taking the steps to implement GODI is a great start. However, GODI is still lagging behind. As of this writing, the data portal is still down from when I first noticed it at the end of August which does not help in building the reputation of the Ghana Open Data community. I hope the portal comes back online soon with an well-defined strategy to improve access to quality data sets and tools.

With regards to the RTI bill, the great efforts by some of the advocacy groups listed above will eventually get this law passed. It is important that journalists and citizens remain invested on this issue in order to give it the necessary attention to be passed.

In the next series, I will talk about the State of Open Data in Ghana from the research and innovation perspective.

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School of Data Fellows: What Are They Up To?

Meg Foulkes - October 8, 2015 in Costa Rica, ecuador, fellowship, ghana, Macedonia, nepal, Nigeria, philippines

Our brilliant 2015 School of Data Fellows are a busy bunch! We asked them to reflect on the first half of their fellowships; here’s a roundup of just a few of the highlights:
  • Camila has run numerous training events, working with Abriendo Datos Costa Rica and with Costa Rican university students. She has also run two data expeditions and a workshop in Mexico City in the NGO Festival FITS – in total, Camila has trained 177 participants! Camila looks forward to engaging wider audiences of Costa Rican NGOs and journalists in data-literacy training during the remainder of her fellowship.

  • In Macedonia, Goran has been making great progress on the Open Budgets project and work is underway with the Metamorphosis Foundation on upgrading their ‘Follow The Money’ website. He has also been busy finalising contracts with the winners of the Open Data Projects competition and facilitating their kick-off. Goran is also finalising his first skillshare on TimelineJS, which we look forward to!

  • In Nepal, Nirab has responded to the devastation caused by April’s earthquake by supporting all manner of data-related support, working with a host of CSO’s, INGOs, government agents, technologists, journalists and researchers. He has a particular interest in post-disaster transport management and has trained 78 road engineers in OpenStreetMap, who are utilising this knowledge across 36 different districts of Nepal!

  • In Ecuador, Julio has been busy preparing a workshop for Campus Party Ecuador 2015, a fantastic technology festival kicking off later this week. He has also been collaborating recently with Innovation Lab Quito on an exciting upcoming training event in October and also with SocialTIC and the Ecuadorian Journalist Forum on an event planned for November.

  • Nkechi attended the Africa Open Data Conference (AODC) in Tanzania recently, where she did some fantastic networking at the School of Data booth. She also organised an Open Data Workshop for approximately 25 Tanzanian CSOs and journalists at the conference, comprising skill shares on data advocacy, finding and verifying data, the data pipeline, scraping and visualizing. Nkechi looks forward to consolidating her work in strengthening the Nigerian data-literacy community in the coming months of her fellowship.

  • In the Phillipines, Sheena has worked extensively on data skills for effective disaster response, organising successful training events in Northern Mindanao and Leyte with a total of 77 participants. She recently participated in in the Forum on Open Government Data organized by the Knowledge for Development Center, which provided powerful insights regarding School of Data’s role in supporting the Open Data movement. Sheena is focused on extending her network of local NGOs and media actors in the coming months, as she makes progress to her goal of establishing a local School of Data instance.

  • In Ghana, David has hosted several workshops, including a data scraping workshop with Code for Ghana, and another during the Africa Open Data Conference with fellow School of Data and Code for Africa colleagues. He has presented two online skillshares on Data Scraping and R programming which have received very positive feedback! David is currently organising the first H/H Accra meetup. He intends to focus on data journalism for the rest of his fellowship, in anticipation of the national elections that will happen in Ghana next year.

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Breaking Borders: The #OpenData Party in Accra Ghana

Oludotun Babayemi - December 31, 2014 in #OpenData Party, accountability, Accra, Data Clinic, Events, ghana, School of Data, starghana, Transparency

In the last series of our advocacy on Open Data through capacity building, we finally had a data clinic session at the Asa Royal Hotel in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 a coincidence with the International Anticorruption Day, and CSOs in Accra Ghana weren’t left out. Why did we try taking this gospel to Ghana? We had enjoyed close collaboration and relationship with start ups and NGOs in Ghana, and for them, one of the drawbacks in finding data is the unavailability of a freedom of information act, or the access to information act. Just like we have seen in Nigeria, NGOs and activist seem not familiar with data pipelines or what we refer to as the data management processes, likewise basic tools that can be used in analyzing data. Unlike Nigeria, the transparency and accountability [T&A] movement in Ghana is coordinated under the STARGHANA project. Thus creating an ecosystem of groups working in the T&A component of the Open Data movement. “Two years ago, I was part of a team that initiated the SMS reporting on service delivery in the health sector, however, I am not sure how much the system is working anymore” explained Joseph Senyo, National Director of Programmes, Community and Family Aid Foundation
Open Data Party in Accra Ghana

Participants at the Open Data event in Accra Ghana

While going through finding data, it was interesting to know that Nigeria has more datasets available online than Ghana, as most of the participants couldn’t figure out where to find the budget data of the country, although some mentioned the ministry of finance, but surprisingly we couldn’t get budget data from this website. Nevertheless, the country national statistics online portal is a one – stop shop for datasets in the country, and only one of the participants knew this existed. Analyzing using Microsoft Excel, and Google Spreadsheets was an eye – opener for participants, as most of them requested to know how this can be applicable in their various works. While it was important to drive this conversation forward, outside the training sessions, the participants were already thinking about a 3 –day event that could bring together government, NGOs and other activist in the coming year. But, our trip to Accra would not have been complete without taking some time at the iSpace (it was a women in technology day, and we had ladies) and the LaBadi Beach – it is known that trainings can also be complemented with ice breakers on the beach – and same we did, and fortunately for us – it was the reggae night.
Getting  instant feedbacks from participants

Getting instant feedbacks from participants

“We would have like to have more days of training, as the little minutes I spent was quite educative, especially the use of analysis tools, thus making me to know how important data is to my various monitoring and evaluation work” said Mensah Ileom of Inspire Africa. Actually, I have seen more NGO participants looking towards how data gathering can also help them in monitoring and evaluation, aside using it for advocacy, and monitoring service delivery.   flattr this!