It is impossible to turn a blind eye to the arrival of so many hundreds of thousands of migrants* into Europe recently. According to Save the Children, this includes the highest number of child migrants seen since the end of World War II. Their arrival is testament to the challenges that some of these families have faced in their own countries for too long; it also presents a new conundrum to their host countries, which must now provide for their clear and ongoing needs.
The promise we have made
The outcome document from the UN General Assembly on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) last week stated that “All people, irrespective of sex, age, race, ethnicity, and persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous peoples, children and youth, especially those in vulnerable situations, should have access to life-long learning opportunities that help them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to exploit opportunities and to participate fully in society.”
This is no small task.
Indeed, the task is one that even better performing rich countries have not managed to live up to in the past. Immigrant students already in many of these countries face a higher risk of underachievement and low attainment in education.
In France, Germany and Sweden for instance, in 2012, over 80% of 15-year-old students achieved the minimum benchmark in reading on average in the PISA survey. But immigrants perform far worse: in France, the proportion of immigrants making it above the minimum benchmark is lower than the average in Mexico, while Germany’s immigrants are on a par with students in Thailand. Immigrants in Sweden face particular problems, with only just over half passing the minimum benchmark – equivalent to the average for students in Uruguay. Continue reading
Last week, world leaders put their signature to 169 targets for the next 15 years. One of the education targets stands out in its scale of ambition: “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes”. Declaring that primary and secondary education should be ‘free’ is consistent with education as a right.
Yet this commitment is also a cause for reflection. If education is being provided, how much does it matter if it is not free? If parents want to pay for their children’s education, is that wrong?
The spread of private education, especially low-fee private schools, has attracted much critical discussion recently. The debate was stirred by a recent lead article in the Economist that came out strongly in favour of private schools and the subsequent fiery responses written by those on the other side of the fence.
The Special Rapporteur on the right to education argued earlier this year that “privatization violates many of the norms of the right to education”. Yet, it is impractical to imagine disbanding all private schools tomorrow. Can we ever achieve our vision of leaving no-one behind if education is not always free, not even at the point of access?
This blog is part of a series of last minute reflections before a new education goal is set in stone. It is written by Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning at The MasterCard Foundation
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are putting forward an ambitious new agenda in education, one that is well aligned with The MasterCard Foundation’s goal to ensure access to quality, relevant education for youth, particularly in Africa. The Foundation applauds the expansion of the global goal in education to include universal secondary education as well as affordable, equitable access to technical, vocational and university education for youth. It is a welcome development that the international community is paying attention to a student’s full educational journey – from early childhood through to primary, secondary, vocational and higher education – as each level of the system has a role in supporting and enabling the previous level.
While The MasterCard Foundation contributes to achieving education goals in Sub-Saharan Africa, we know that resources are only a part of the solution. We often ask ourselves, where can the philanthropic sector best add value or play a catalytic role in the education sector? We focus on testing and piloting new approaches, scaling up approaches that work, disseminating learning and best practices, and convening stakeholders to encourage broader collaboration.
This blog is part of a series of last minute reflections before the new education agenda is set in stone at the UN General Assembly this week. It is written by Juan Carlos Tedesco, academic and previous Minister for Education in Argentina.
The starting point for the following reflections must be to acknowledge both the limitations and the achievements of the educational policies that have been implemented during the last decade, specifically in Argentina, but also in many other countries in the region. There is at present a new legal framework that guarantees the right of education and the provision of financial resources. However, the experience of the last decade leaves two fundamental lessons: (i) dedicating 6% of the Gross Domestic Product to education is not enough for accomplishing the accelerated goals this legal framework established; and (ii) the increase in the financial resources allocated to education does not translate automatically in improvements in quality and equality in the practice.
In order to generate any progress in quality and equality through an increase in financial funding, changes are needed in the institutional and cultural patterns that regulate the educational system. Both dimensions (cultural and institutional) are tightly related, and they focus the discussion on the challenges of introducing higher levels of accountability for results in the educational administration.
Many public officials believe that this responsibility for results grows with better evaluation systems. As such, the usual advice is to measure student results and promote teacher assessments. Nevertheless, both national and international experience shows us that measuring per se does not necessarily improve quality. Increased quality as well as increased accountability involves, besides financial funding and measuring instruments, a debate on what, who and how teaching is done. In other words, it means putting teaching and learning processes at the centre of the agenda.
By Manos Antoninis and Marcos Delprato
World leaders are preparing to put pen to paper this week to conclude years of negotiations. The most emblematic pledge is likely to be the statement in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development document that “no one will be left behind”. In order to meet this pledge, across all areas of development and across all countries, we need measures to track progress in reducing inequalities. This blog looks at what these might these look like for education.
At the Global Monitoring Report we have been looking at inequalities in education for many years. This week, with the adoption of target 4.5 that aims to “eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable”, we hope there will be renewed urgency to find better ways to report and address these inequalities.
In December, we co-organized a workshop with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics on this issue. Last week, at the 2015 UK Forum for International Education and Training (UKFIET) International Conference on Education and Development, we presented some of the challenges.
A first key challenge is determining which inequality measure to use. For the past 15 years, the parity index has been the common measure for differences in education participation between males and females. However, this is just one of a rather large possible set of measures to choose from – each with different advantages and disadvantages. And, unfortunately, different measures can yield entirely contradictory conclusions, as Patrick Montjourides of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics clearly showed at the conference, building on earlier work.
Aware of this challenge, the Technical Advisory Group on education indicators, which presented its proposal at the World Education Forum in May, left open the choice of which inequality measure should be used. To the greatest extent possible inequality should be addressed in a consistent way across the SDGs. For that reason, the final proposal of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators, to be discussed in Bangkok at the end of October, is hotly awaited.
By Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership for Education. This blog is part of a series of last minute reflections before a new education goal is set in stone.
For several years now, we in the development community have been talking about and working on the “post-2015” agenda – that moment when the new Sustainable Development Goals would pick up where the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off. Now, at long last, that moment is upon us, and the question is: “Are we ready?”
Education is at the heart of the global development agenda and, as we had hoped, the fourth goal on education is much more ambitious than its predecessor. The global and national infrastructure supporting education in developing countries is much more sophisticated and effective today than it was even 15 years ago when the MDGs and Education For All first emerged.
Stronger systems and best practices are now in place in many countries. Collaboration and critical coordination among all the internal and external partners is strong. An increasing number of developing countries have committed to major education reforms and initiatives. Many are implementing new approaches and are making exciting progress. But much more needs to be done to ensure the poorest countries can achieve a step change in education progress as is contemplated in the new goal.