Harnessing the power of education

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Pauline Rose became director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report in August 2011, after three years as a senior policy analyst with the GMR team. Here she outlines her vision for the GMR and the 2015 EFA targets.

Since 2000, the Education for All goals and Millennium Development Goals have served as a powerful motor for progress towards ensuring that all children, young people and adults have opportunities for a good-quality education. The EFA Global Monitoring Report has played a crucial role in this process, identifying problems and highlighting solutions. As the 2015 target date for the world’s development goals draws near, I see three strategic priorities for the GMR:

  • re-establishing momentum for achieving the EFA goals;
  • securing education’s rightful place on the development agenda;
  • shaping post-2015 priorities.

In each of these areas, I believe that the GMR has a crucial role to play in demonstrating education’s power to transform lives.

1. Re-establishing momentum for achieving the EFA goals

There is much progress to celebrate since the EFA goals were established in 2000. More children are in school than ever before. The gap between enrolment of girls and boys has narrowed considerably. Many governments are paying greater attention to early childhood care and education. But there is still a long way to go.

Since 2005, progress towards universal primary education has been stagnating. The increased number of children entering school, combined with an insufficient number of trained teachers, is putting pressure on the quality of education. Supply of secondary places is not keeping pace with demand, resulting in widening inequalities between and within countries. And improvement in adult literacy has been extremely limited.

Advances over the first part of the decade have showed that rapid change is possible. If we can regain that momentum, many countries will be able to achieve the goals. The GMR needs urgently to highlight innovative approaches that can overcome the bottlenecks to achieving EFA, and communicate these approaches to policy-makers who have the responsibility for achieving the goals.

The next GMR will seek to highlight these successes and challenges, with a particular focus on developing the skills of young people. Recent political upheavals have turned the spotlight on a generation of youth whose hopes for decent jobs and better lives have been thwarted by undemocratic leadership, corrupt politics and slow economic progress. Many have not been able to continue beyond primary school. Many others have left secondary school without having acquired the skills that employers need, confining them to unemployment or insecure and poorly paid informal work.

The 2012 Report will examine how investing in young people through skills development programmes can address their frustrations, enhance their opportunities and build a better future for themselves and the societies in which they live.

2. Securing education’s rightful place on the development agenda

Education has been losing its key place on the development agenda. Funding to basic schooling is drying up, as some aid donors are switching priorities away from education.

Unlike areas such as health, education hardly features in international development debates. It has not benefited to the same degree from global corporate philanthropy. And as more children enter schools, some governments believe they have achieved their education objectives, even though many children are not acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills.

The GMR needs to ensure that good-quality and equitable education is seen not only as important in its own right, but also as a key investment. Education can transform lives and societies by reducing poverty, empowering women, improving health, promoting tolerance and democracy, and facilitating sustainable development. The GMR needs to hold political leaders, policy-makers and decision-makers to account for their responsibilities towards education goals.

Achieving this will require a triple focus. Working more closely with researchers and institutions across the world will ensure that the GMR compiles robust evidence from a wide range of contexts. Engaging directly with young people will help identify their concerns and recommendations for change. And diversifying the Report’s outreach via a wide range of channels, including newspapers, radio, blogging and online social media, will bring the Report’s findings and messages to new audiences.

3. Shaping post-2015 priorities

Does the deadline for the MDGs need to be extended for some countries? Do the goals need adapting? Or does the development landscape need to be more radically transformed? With 2015 fast approaching, the GMR needs to make sure that education has a strong presence within the broader development debates taking place.

The GMR also has a key contribution to make in ensuring that equity is at the heart of the post-2015 education agenda, collaborating with UNESCO’s leadership and other EFA partners to apply lessons learned since the EFA goals were established in 2000. Rising overall enrolment is encouraging the education sector to shift attention from access to learning.

Obstacles remain, however, that prevent marginalized children and young people from entering or completing primary school, and from making the move to secondary school. Efforts to remove those obstacles need to be linked to equitable approaches to improving learning outcomes. The GMR can enable and encourage this process by identifying the appropriate measurement tools and strategies.

Finally, I am committed to building on the successes of previous GMR Directors to maintain and further strengthen the Report’s reputation in providing high-quality, evidence-based advocacy for achieving Education for All. Working together with UNESCO’s leadership, the GMR’s Advisory Board members and other EFA partners, I will seek to ensure that the GMR plays a key role in making the goals set at Dakar in 2000 a reality, harnessing education’s power to transform lives

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4 Responses to Harnessing the power of education

  1. M. Y. Ozegya says:

    This is a great piece of information. It is really appreciated. The attitude of some people needs to change towards the achievement of the EFA and MDGs goals. Some do not take the drive with the seriousness it deserves. This is really worrisome and tends to truncate some of the progresses made so far. There is need for thorough reorientation of some of our minds.

  2. Dr. I.Y Muhammad. says:

    It’s glad to hear all the above. However, governments must take into account that increasing enrolment is one thing and improving learning outcomes another.Therefore, for the EFA goal to be achieved, countries, particularly African countries, must increase their annual budget allocation for education to cover the cost of the increasing number of children enrolling.The cost should also consider qualified teachers to manage the greater number of children in school. This way the EFA goal could be realistic.

  3. robert says:

    Bringing people to learn is important however the quality of learning depends on well-developed educational plans and instructors. It is not enough to provide a learning environment. You must provide a quality program that allows for growth and re-training. The educational program must grow with the people.

  4. Pingback: PGCE

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