By Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report
As the global education community prepares to discuss education in the post-2015 development agenda at Dakar this week, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report team has drawn on its decade of experience to propose what those goals could look like. Our proposed goals, outlined here, are described more fully in a new paper for consultation that also includes guiding principles, specific targets and indicators.
The six Education for All goals have helped to drive remarkable progress since they were established in 2000. Some major education needs have not received the attention they deserve, however, and fresh priorities have emerged over the past 13 years. Many education observers and recent EFA Global Monitoring Reports have highlighted the limited progress in narrowing inequality gaps in education, despite this being a key feature of the EFA agenda.
As we outlined in an article on our World Education Blog, there are two likely reasons for this. One is that the Millennium Development Goals – which have dominated development planning – should have incorporated equity as a core principle, as the EFA goals did. Another is that the lack of measurable equity targets, and of data broken down to show inequalities within countries, has let down the poorest, girls, those with disabilities, and those in rural areas over the past decade.
The first problem needs to be tackled after 2015 by aligning the broader development architecture with the post-2015 education framework. The second problem underlines the importance of incorporating measurable equity targets in post-2015 goals, a step we recommend in this paper.
It is clear that new goals need to address unfinished business and to anticipate future challenges. While an EFA goal focused on the quality of education, this was missing from the MDG framework and so did not receive the attention it deserved. Measures for assessing equity in learning have also been lacking. The 2013/14 EFA Global Monitoring Report will look at this in more detail, identifying the key role that good teachers play in achieving equitable learning.
The new goals should take into account global trends such as the increasing importance of technology, greater urbanization, shifting population patterns and concerns over climate change and environmental degradation. And while not all education priorities can be measured, it is vital that the goals themselves are simple, clear and measurable.
Identifying how to measure progress towards post-2015 education goals is not straightforward. One of the challenges the EFA Global Monitoring Report has faced over the past decade is that indicators were not identified at the time that goals and targets were established. This led to different indicators being used for EFA goals and MDGs in ways that were not necessarily compatible. It also meant that some goals could not easily be measured, either with existing data or with data that could be collected within the timeframe. It would be preferable for post-2015 goals, targets and indicators to be agreed simultaneously to avoid such complications. We set out our detailed proposals in our consultation paper on our proposed goals.
Most commentators are proposing 2030 as a deadline for new goals, a consensus that we support. This timespan is long enough to reasonably expect goals to be reached, without being so long that there is a risk of losing sight of progress. In general, we propose that all targets should aim to get to zero by this date. It is not acceptable that any child or young person should remain out of school, or any young person or adult lack the skills needed to get decent jobs or lead fulfilling lives.
Finally, we believe that it is not enough to set goals – if they are to be achieved, they need regular, independent monitoring to track progress and identify policies that have facilitated such progress, as well as holding governments and the international community to account for their promises. The EFA Global Monitoring Report has put education ahead of many other sectors in this regard, and it is crucial that such independent monitoring continue after 2015.