What education do we want for the future?

Qian Tang, PhD, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO and Dr. Nicholas Alipui, Director and Senior Advisor on the Post-2015 development agenda, UNICEF.

post2015Today, UNESCO and UNICEF will convene a high-level discussion on the post-2015 education agenda. This event, hosted by the European Commission, will kick-off the Global Partnership for Education’s Second Replenishment Pledging Conference in Brussels and aims at rallying the international community behind the Muscat Agreement, which puts forward an aspirational goal for education post-2015 and a set of clear targets that will drive measurable improvements in equity, quality and learning.

But what does this new commitment mean? Since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, what have we learned?

We know that in order to have a holistic and transformational education agenda, we must place the learner at the center of this process. We also know that in order to reach every last child, young person and adult, we must focus on the most marginalized and hardest-to-reach. And we know that we must move beyond just access to address issues of quality, to ensure that once in school, our children are learning.

These issues must be clear on our agenda if the proposed education goal and targets are to gain approval at the World Education Forum in 2015 and be adopted as an integral part of the global development agenda at the UN Summit in New York City in September 2015.

Photo credit: Tagaza Djibo/UNESCO

Primary school children in Niger. Photo credit: Tagaza Djibo/UNESCO

Children are the foundation for the future we want. To create this future, as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta said, “The children of today and future generations must survive, thrive and have the opportunity to reach their full potential — free from fear and want — through expanded opportunities for all.”

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Posted in Post-2015 development framework | 1 Comment

TALIS: Showing how teachers acquire confidence and improve children’s learning.

This week, a new round of TALIS survey results will be published by OECD. This blog looks at some of the findings from the last TALIS survey, which shows the sorts of practices which increase teachers’ feeling of confidence in the classroom and, in turn, improve children’s learning.

talis_blog3Schools and classrooms are often described as black boxes in which teaching and learning process are impossible to truly capture and monitor in depth. To help open this black box, and look closer at the types of learning environments that support effective teaching and motivated teachers, the OECD developed the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). This was carried out in 23 middle and high income countries in 2007-2008. It focused on teacher appraisal and feedback, teachers’ professional development, and teachers’ beliefs and attitudes about teaching and their pedagogical practices. The next results of this survey are due out this week.

TALIS does not directly link classroom teaching practices with learning outcomes. Its starting point is that teachers who believe they can successfully teach the most difficult subjects and the most difficult students (called ‘self-efficacy’) are those who set higher standards and deliver better learning outcomes. Indeed, there is a positive correlation between the extent to which lower secondary school teachers feel confident in the classroom, as measured by TALIS, and the reading skill levels among 15-year-olds in the 2009 PISA (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Learning outcomes are higher in countries where teachers feel capable of teaching well 

Average score of teacher self-efficacy index in TALIS and average reading score in PISA, selected countries, 2008-2009


Source: TALIS 2008 database

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Posted in Quality of education, Teachers, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

How can we measure global citizenship skills post 2015?

In the third of our series of guest blogs on the five proposed outcome-oriented post-2015 global education targets, Bryony Hoskins, senior lecturer at the University of Southampton, looks at the challenges of measuring citizenship knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.

In today’s climate, where economic competitiveness dominates the education agenda, it is exciting that UNESCO is proposing that one of the seven post-2015 targets of education progress could focus on global citizenship and sustainability skills.

Policy debates have often sidelined the need to ensure that learning contributes to social cohesion and democracy. So establishing indicators for citizenship may help to motivate countries’ commitment to this policy field. In addition, it can provide evidence that enables civil society and the media to put pressure on governments to act. This was my experience when leading the development of citizenship indicators within the European Union to monitor education goals.

We first created the active citizenship index, which measured adults’ engagement in civil society, community and political life, and their democratic values, using European Social Survey data. We then created a civic competence index, which measured young people’s qualities as active citizens. The index combined four dimensions: attitudes towards social justice; citizenship knowledge and skills; participatory attitudes; and citizenship values.

We used the results of the 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The map shows the results for the attitudes to social justice dimension of the civic competence index. Young people living in countries highlighted with green colour had more favourable attitudes towards social justice. The analysis was extended to several middle income countries in East Asia and Latin America, like Guatemala and Indonesia, which also participated in the 2009 ICCS.

Attitudes towards social justice in Europe among 14-year olds, 2009

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Posted in Citizenship, Millennium Development Goals, Post-2015 development framework, Secondary school | 2 Comments

Aid to education has fallen by 10% since 2010

A new EFA Global Monitoring Report policy paper, Aid reductions threaten education goals shows that aid to education has been on a downward spiral since 2010, putting the achievement of existing and future global education goals at risk. With 250 million children not learning the basics, it is crucial that donors recommit themselves to education.

Since 2010, aid to education has been on the decline, shows a new policy paper by the EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR). Basic education – which enables children to acquire foundational skills and core knowledge – is now receiving the same amount of aid as it was back in 2008. As funds diminish, there remain 57 million children and 69 million adolescents still out of school as of 2011, which leaves too little time to reach two key Education for All targets by 2015.


Click to enlarge

We are now just two weeks before the Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Pledging Conference where donors are being asked to help raise a much needed US$3.5 billion for education in the poorest countries. The findings of the GMR policy paper show how urgent it is for additional funds to be raised in Brussels at the Conference, and for donors – old and new – to see this as an opportunity to refill the funding pot for education in its time of need.

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Posted in Aid, Basic education, Developed countries, Developing countries, Donors, Finance, Post-2015 development framework | 3 Comments

The Muscat Agreement: New proposed post 2015 global education goal and targets announced today

A global goal and targets for the post-2015 education agenda, discussed last month at the Global Education For All Meeting in Muscat, Oman, have been announced today. This is the first important step in a process that will culminate at the World Education Forum in Incheon, Republic of Korea, in May 2015 and at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2015.

The proposed new overarching education goal aims to drive the international community to: Ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030

This goal comprises seven new global education targets:

reading2Target 1: By 2030, at least x% of girls and boys are ready for primary school through participation in quality early childhood care and education, including at least one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education, with particular attention to gender equality and the most marginalized.

Target 2: By 2030, all girls and boys complete free and compulsory quality basic education of at least 9 years and achieve relevant learning outcomes, with particular attention to gender equality and the most marginalized.

Target 3: By 2030, all youth and at least x% of adults reach a proficiency level in literacy and numeracy sufficient to fully participate in society, with particular attention to girls and women and the most marginalized.

Target 4: By 2030, at least x% of youth and y% of adults have the knowledge and skills for decent work and life through technical and vocational, upper secondary and tertiary education and training, with particular attention to gender equality and the most marginalized.

Target 5: By 2030, all learners acquire knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to establish sustainable and peaceful societies, including through global citizenship education and education for sustainable development.

Target 6: By 2030, all governments ensure that all learners are taught by qualified, professionally-trained, motivated and well-supported teachers.

Target 7: By 2030, all countries allocate at least 4-6% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or at least 15-20% of their public expenditure to education, prioritizing groups most in need; and strengthen financial cooperation for education, prioritizing countries most in need.

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Posted in Millennium Development Goals, Post-2015 development framework | 14 Comments

The challenges and rewards of measuring global learning after 2015

post2015In the second of our guest blogs as part of a series on the five proposed outcome-oriented post-2015 global education targets, Ray Adams of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) examines the challenges involved in reaching agreement on how to measure the second target proposed by the EFA Steering Committee:

“By 2030, all girls and boys complete free and compulsory quality basic education of at least 9 years and achieve relevant learning outcomes, with particular attention to gender equality and the most marginalized.”

In the discussion of post-2015 global education goals, there appears to be general agreement that the assessment of learning outcomes must have a place alongside ensuring equitable access to good quality education. The EFA GMR has calculated that there are 250 million children not learning. It is now time to start looking at these figures in more detail, and across time. We need be able to identify exactly how many children around the world face compromised life opportunities because they do not possess foundational reading and mathematics skills.

Before we venture down this path, however, we need to consider two issues carefully: how to define foundational reading and mathematics skills, and how to use the assessment data that are collected.

At the core of these issues is the development of internationally accepted learning metrics. A learning metric, which describes what learners know, understand and can do in a particular subject area or domain at different stages of their development, is a basic tool for reporting progress in learning. Teachers and curriculum developers can use this information to help plan their pedagogy and materials development.

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Posted in Basic education, Equality, Equity, Millennium Development Goals, Out-of-school children, Post-2015 development framework, Primary school, Quality of education, Secondary school | 7 Comments

Giving young children the best chance – and measuring their progress

In the first of our series of guest blogs on the five proposed outcome-oriented post-2015 global education targets, Abbie Raikes, programme specialist at UNESCO, looks at the challenges of measuring early childhood development and learning.

post2015We now know that early childhood, far from being a time of “just playing,” lays the groundwork for learning, well-being and health in adulthood. The returns on investments in early childhood are among the highest in education. However, the world’s young children often do not receive the attention, resources, and support they need for healthy development.

Reliable information on young children’s development and learning can spur action. Many countries are surprised when they learn how many children are denied the conditions for healthy development, and how quickly inequity takes root, even within the first years of life. Early childhood development’s presence in proposed targets for the post-2015 development framework is a great step forward, and highlights the need for data for global, regional and national tracking.

Is it really possible to measure early childhood development (ECD) and learning? The answer is clearly yes. While there are certainly important individual differences, human development follows predictable patterns that lay the groundwork for reliable, valid measurement. We have strong evidence from around the world demonstrating that children’s development and learning before school is related to outcomes later in life. A big step towards “learning for all” is taken when all children are given a good start in life.

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Posted in Basic education, Early childhood care and education, Post-2015 development framework, Pre-primary education, Primary school, Quality of education, Uncategorized | 11 Comments