How can a renewed vision for education after 2015 and an overall global development framework complement each other? Do we need a global education framework to replace Education for All? Continuing confusion over these key questions was apparent when representatives from Western Europe and North America met in Paris last week for a regional consultation meeting on education after 2015, co-hosted by UNESCO and UNICEF.
With time ticking past, it is vital to be clear whether a global education framework will be developed, and what it might look like. Participants at last week’s meeting highlighted the need for a universal framework of relevance to all countries, regardless of their stage of development. They emphasized the need to improve the quality of education, make sure that all children are learning, regardless of their circumstances, and to end the skills deficits that many countries face.
One question that arises is whether a new education framework should continue to be called Education for All (EFA), or whether this would this risk fatigue and confusion over why a new deadline is being set for a similar set of goals. One possible name is an acronym of the elements the global education goal currently being debated. The acronym would ground the goals and subsequent framework in the key principle of equity – making sure that every child and young person has an equal chance of education:
The name of a new framework is just one question, however. The education community – member states, civil society organizations, aid agencies, and all those committed to ensuring everyone has the chance to go to school and learn – must also decide on its shape. Four options seem to be on the table:
• Option 1: A global education goal within whatever broader global development framework succeeds the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but with no supporting post-EFA “EQuEL” framework. The global development framework could be complemented by global and/or national targets, which would be decided and developed by the development community.
• Option 2: A global education goal within a broader post-MDG global development framework, supported by a detailed post-EFA “EQuEL” education framework. The global education framework could also be complemented by global and/or national targets, which would link with the broader development framework while providing more details identified by the education community that would hold education stakeholders to account.
• Option 3: A new post-EFA ‘EQuEL’ education framework, but no global education goal with a broader post-MDG development framework.
• Option 4: No global development or education framework.
• Option 5: perhaps there are other combinations too?
The Education for All Global Monitoring Report team’s position on these options is clear: a global education goal within a broader global development framework, complemented by a more detailed, supporting global education framework. This education framework would have clear, measurable global targets and indicators that could also be backed up with national targets and indicators.
We would like you to share your thoughts about the options: Place your vote here. If you would like to suggest further options or ideas, please write them as a comment below.
The process of settling on a post-2015 agenda is political as much as it is technical. So it was welcome news that the Paris regional consultation proposed that the EFA Steering Group Task Force begins work on recommendations for new targets and indicators to present in early 2014. These recommendations must be provided in time for member states to provide feedback.
We hope that the experience of the EFA Global Monitoring Report will guide this important technical work: our monitoring over the past decade shows clearly that the EFA goals that were not backed by measurable indicators received the least attention. To underpin progress after 2015, we need to learn from these lessons. It is crucial to track progress for those most at risk of being left behind (including the poor, rural children and girls) so we can narrow the gap between them and those with the best chances for education (such as boys from rich families living in urban areas).
A new report from the UN Secretary-General on these questions is expected to be presented at the UN General Assembly in September 2014. Even though the global education community can and should continue to debate some details, it is vital to settle on post-2015 options for the education sector as soon as possible, before others decide on our behalf.