The new education targets still need fine-tuning

The next few days are crucial for putting finishing touches on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) before they are handed over to the group who will work on the text at September’s United Nations General Assembly.  Large substantial changes are likely to no longer be possible. Small tweaks can and must still be made however, no matter how close to the wire we draw. Here are a few tweaks that we feel must be acknowledged in the next version to appear:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

1. Teachers must sit in a target of their own with an earlier deadline than 2030: It is good news that there is a target on teachers included in the text. Without hiring and training more teachers, many countries will be unlikely to ever both achieve universal primary education and maintain an acceptable standard of quality. Large classrooms and teachers with little or no training will also make it hard, if not impossible, to reach any of the other targets currently outlined in the document. However, the teacher target currently sits awkwardly alongside a target on scholarships for tertiary education students. Investing in teachers is far more in line with the overall goal of equitable quality education rather than scholarships. Here, the UN process must take note of the positioning teachers are given in the Muscat Agreement prepared by the EFA Steering Committee. Omitting to mention teachers more prominently in the EFA goals has left a global learning crisis. We must make sure not to make the same mistake again. For that reason, not only should teachers be given a target of their own but the deadline for achieving that target should be set much earlier than 2030.

Continue reading

Posted in Aid, Donors, Finance, Millennium Development Goals, Post-2015 development framework, Quality of education, Skills, Sustainable development, Teachers | 1 Comment

A great step forward for transparency as the GPE plans to report to OECD

Last week the GPE organized its second Replenishment Conference. High-level attendance and pledges were clear indications that the GPE is becoming an ever more important institution in international education. This blog celebrates the news that the Fund will soon start reporting to OECD, and the benefits this will bring to the ability to effectively monitor financing for education.

Pupils in a school in Lodwar , Turkana, Kenya. Credit: Karel Prinsloo / ARETE

Pupils in a school in Lodwar , Turkana, Kenya. Credit: Karel Prinsloo / ARETE

Developing countries reliant on aid have traditionally faced huge challenges in accessing the necessary information on the external aid they receive for development, which remain crucial to helping them plan and effectively manage their resources. This is why clarity and transparency in aid flows is a key issue now and in the foreseeable future.

Within the health sector, both the Global Fund and the GAVI Alliance report their aid disbursements to the OECD, which annually collects information on where aid goes. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), on the other hand, has to date not been reporting the funds it has disbursed, leaving it unclear exactly how much the poorest countries are receiving for education. It is therefore welcome news that the GPE is planning to become a reporting agency in the coming years.

There are four main reasons for celebrating this news:

  1. Knowing precisely how much aid low income countries receive for education

Over the last decade a large share of aid for education has been classed by the OECD as “bilateral unspecified”. Much of this murky ‘unspecified’ aid is likely to be made up of the funds from donors such as the UK, which are being channeled through GPE. This aid represents a substantial sum: In the case of total aid to basic education, levels have increased 8-fold over the last decade. As a share of total aid to basic education, aid packaged away as “bilateral unspecified” rose from 3% in 2002 to 12% by 2012 (Figure 1).

Until the GPE reporting begins, OECD aid data will only tell part of the story because some donors are reporting their GPE-related contributions transparently; others less so. This ambiguity undermines our ability to determine aid flows over time and by country. In the case of Ethiopia, for example, where well over 1 million children are out of school, current OECD data likely underestimate the amount the country receives through GPE, as can be said for other GPE recipient countries.  In the future, however, it will become far easier to paint a fuller picture of aid resources available for education at the national level.

Figure 1: The rising importance of aid for basic education going to “bilateral unspecified”
Volumes and share of basic education aid disbursed to ”bilateral unspecified”, 2002-2013

blog_graph1

Continue reading

Posted in Aid, Donors, Finance | 2 Comments

Learning is not just for students

Portrait/Headshot: Kristen Weatherby, Senior Analyst, EDU/ECS, OECD.By Kristen Weatherby, Senior Analyst at OECD

The latest results from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) were released last week in countries around the globe. TALIS 2013 surveyed 107,000 lower secondary teachers in 34 participating countries to represent teachers worldwide. The OECD survey sought to understand who teachers are and how they work. Areas from how teachers’ daily work is recognised, appraised and rewarded to their attitudes towards teaching and their own experiences as lifelong learners were also examined. The TALIS results show us that we all can learn from what these teachers have to say.

The good news is that teachers are very satisfied being teachers. On average across TALIS-participating countries, nine out of ten teachers said that they are satisfied with their jobs. And nearly eight in ten teachers reported that they would still choose the teaching profession if they were faced with the choice again. TALIS shows that constructive and fair teacher appraisals and feedback have a positive effect on teachers’ job satisfaction and on their confidence in their abilities as teachers. On average, 88% of teachers said that they receive feedback in their school.

A class in an inner city school in Antofagasta, Chile. Photo: Hugo Infante

A class in an inner city school in Antofagasta, Chile. Photo: Hugo Infante

TALIS also shows, however, that there is room for improvement. Given these positive results in teacher satisfaction, it is surprising to learn that teachers do not feel valued. Although the majority of teachers would still choose teaching over other professions, more than two in three teachers across participating countries do not feel that their profession is valued by society. The statistics on teacher appraisal and feedback may reveal one reason why teachers feel that way: only one in three teachers feels that the feedback they receive will lead to any kind of career advancement, including higher pay or additional responsibilities; and many teachers feel that appraisals are only performed to fulfil administrative requirements. And yet, more than six in ten teachers report that appraisals are helpful and can lead to positive changes in their teaching practices.

Continue reading

Posted in Teachers, Training | 1 Comment

Domestic revenues will need to be mobilised to realise the 2014 GPE pledges

The Global Partnership for Education brought together governments and donors at its Replenishment Conference in Brussels last week. While donors fell short of the $3.5 billion target, governments stepped up to the mark. These governments will now need to work on mobilizing more domestic resources in order to make sure they meet their commitments.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) was established in 2002 – originally as the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI) – to live up to the promise that “no countries seriously committed to Education for All will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by lack of resources”.

For the Partnership, the best sign of a country’s serious commitment to education is a credible education plan that can be endorsed by the international community and can kick-start a compact between country and donors. The idea was that the country then increases its financing to resource its plan. And donors scale up their financing to cover any gaps. At the same time, a special fund, now called the GPE Fund, helps catalyse additional financial support. Over time, the role and reach of the GPE Fund has grown making it one of the most substantial donors to the education sector in low income countries.

Last week, the second GPE Replenishment Conference took place in Brussels, where international and national policy makers announced their specific pledges to education over the coming four years.

gap

There is $26 billion finance gap for basic education

Pledges made by donors only covered 60% of the US$3.5 billion target, although additional commitments are expected. The long-term goal is to make aid redundant, but in the interim it is still extremely important for many of the poorest countries. Unfortunately, with pledges falling short, last week’s conference did not show any signs that the downward trend of aid to education might be reversed in coming years.

Perhaps as a result, the headline outcome of the Replenishment Conference was not related to their highly publicised target for donors, but instead the fact that “developing country governments from around the world committed to increase domestic funding for education by an unprecedented US$26 billion over the replenishment period”.

Is this a result to cheer about?

At the first GPE Replenishment Conference in Copenhagen in 2011, pledges made by governments of finance-constrained countries amounted to US$2.2 billion. In relative terms therefore the pledges made by governments in 2014 are a considerable success. It is also good that publicising these commitments brings governments under scrutiny.

But where will these resources come from?

Children in an inclusive education school in Ethiopia where 25% of the national budget is spent on education. Photo: UNESCO/P. Wiggers

Children in an inclusive school in Ethiopia where 25% of the national budget is spent on education. Photo: UNESCO/P. Wiggers

Many countries are already spending a large share of their budget on education. For example, Benin pledged to maintain the share of its budget dedicated to education at the extraordinarily high level of 27%. Ethiopia and Viet Nam will also maintain the share of their budgets dedicated to education at high levels over the period (25% and 20% respectively). These countries were already doing their best, in other words, and their pledges have simply confirmed that they will not deviate from that path.

Continue reading

Posted in Aid, Basic education, Developed countries, Developing countries, Donors, Finance | 1 Comment

Reflections on the Replenishment

For anyone who was at the replenishment conference this week in Brussels for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), it was an exciting two days. The suspense was built up well by GPE, leaving expectations high for the outcomes of the event. Having just released new research showing that aid to education fell by 10% over the last two recorded years, everyone in the room knew that a lot was hanging on new commitments coming in.

The morning that pledges were to be made, supporting GPE’s calls for investment, the EFA GMR released a new paper with UIS showing that there are now 58 million children out of school. It is no coincidence that funds for education have decreased and out of school numbers flat-lined. We wanted this message to be loud and clear as donors and governments took the floor to make their announcements. ‘Now is the time’ was the message relayed by many a speaker on the stage.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is an important source of financing for some low income countries, as we showed in the EFA GMR 2013/4. In 2011, the GPE disbursed a record US$385 million to basic education, making it the fourth largest donor to low and lower middle income countries that year.
UNESCO-Fig_2.9
Recognising the growing role of GPE, the EFA GMR published an open letter to Alice Albright on her taking up the role as Chair, calling on three key recommendations for her post at the head of the Fund.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No progress in reducing out of school numbers, with some exceptions

By Aaron Benavot, director of the EFA Global Monitoring Report and Albert Motivans, head of Education Statistics at the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

There has been no global progress in reducing the number of children who are denied their right to access primary school, although some countries are bucking the trend. So shows a new joint policy paper from the EFA Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).  Showing barely no change since 2007, the new international data reveals that 58 million children roughly between the ages of 6 and 11 years are still out of school. The new figures confirm the fears that there is no chance, whatsoever, that all countries will reach the goal of universal primary education by 2015.

fig1

The momentum to reduce the numbers of out-of-school children has slowed considerably in recent years, with the global primary out-of-school rate stuck at 9% since 2007, according to UIS data. This marks a stark contrast to progress at the start of the decade, when the international community pledged to achieve universal primary education at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000.

OOS

Click to enlarge

The standstill at the global level is the result of contrasting trends: a significant decline in the number of out-of-school children in certain countries due to important policy initiatives, and a rising school-age population in sub-Saharan Africa. Across this region, more than one in three children who started school in 2012 will leave before reaching the last grade of primary.   To better visualize these trends, UIS has launched an eAtlas, which lets you explore the global and country data on out-of-school children.

Continue reading

Posted in Aid, Environment, Equality, Out-of-school children, Primary school, Quality of education | 3 Comments

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.”

Continue reading

Posted in Post-2015 development framework | 1 Comment