CSC is implementing a national data warehouse for early childhood education
The Ministry of Education and Culture is launching a project to produce a national data warehouse, which is intended to bring together and disseminate commensurate and up-to-date information on early childhood education. The aim of VARDA (early childhood education data production development project) is to bring together national data on children in early childhood education, operating models applied in early childhood education, education locations and personnel working at the locations.
The responsibility for early childhood education in Finland was transferred from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to the Ministry of Education and Culture at the start of 2013. In autumn 2015, the Finnish National Agency for Education became the national expert agency for early childhood education, replacing the National Institute for Health and Welfare in this role. The Ministry of Education and Culture needs an up-to-date and comprehensive database so that it can perform the tasks in its administrative branch. The information is also used by such agencies as Kela and Statistics Finland. However, the fragmented nature of the data production now makes it difficult to develop different sectors of early childhood education.
– With VARDA, we will have national-level access to data that can be used for drafting government proposals, different types of development, monitoring and assessment work, international comparisons and for such purposes as anticipation of personnel training needs, explains Kirsi Alila, Counsellor of Education at the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The statistical database of the early childhood education data warehouse to be introduced at the start of 2018 will be made widely available. The early childhood education information systems used by providers of early childhood education will be used as sources in the automated data collection.
In Finland, most of the organisations providing early childhood education are municipalities. Early childhood education is also offered by private service providers that operate independently or that have been contracted by municipalities to perform the task. The joint data specifications and jointly agreed data collection practices to be produced in the VARDA project will harmonise data production by early childhood education providers. The data specifications are based on the national early childhood education glossary, which is currently being processed as part of the teaching and education terminology work coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
According to Tero Huttunen, Special Advisor at the Ministry of Education and Culture, who is preparing the project at the ministry, VARDA will help to lower costs and reduce the need for manual data processing. In the future, the authorities will no longer have to submit extensive information requests to municipalities to obtain the information they need, while at the same time, municipalities can also use the data themselves.
– In cooperation with a number of actors, we are producing a comprehensive and long-awaited package benefiting all levels of early childhood education, concludes Kirsi Alila.
CSC – IT Center for Science Ltd.