Unfortunately, many of the groups who are closest to the problems — NGOs, journalists, and citizens — currently lack the skills to use data effectively, and often don’t even realise that data could help in their work.

We set up the School of Data project to address these kind of needs. The School of Data works to empower civil society organizations, journalists and citizens by giving them the skills they need to use data effectively in their work. The approach at the School of Data focuses on learning by doing and is driven by helping participants address real problems — with skilling-up happening as part of this this process. A key point starting point is that almost none of the groups we want to engage start out saying: "I want data skills" — indeed they are often unaware of the potential of data to assist them in their work (and it’s impossible to ask people what they do not know!).

The model of the School of Data is geared both towards sustainability and tailored problem solving by supporting community mentors, who work in depth to support the learners. In addition, learners are empowered to realise that they can teach the basics very quickly after starting and take these skills home to their organisations.

Since late 2012 the School of Data has:

  • Trained over 1200 people at in-person workshops on 4 continents from Nairobi to Bogota
  • Trained over 2000 more people online through SchoolofData.org
  • Seen its materials widely used including translation in Spanish and Portugese, with more localisation on the way
  • Seen 200,000 unique visitors and more than half a million page views