A global framework to measure digital literacy

By Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report, and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

digital lit 1From the cocoa farmer in Ghana using a mobile phone to market crops to the nurse in Sweden using telehealth to check on patients at home – digital literacy is considered an essential set of skills needed to find information and communicate in today’s world.

This is why one of the monitoring indicators of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 4.4, which focuses on “relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship” among youth and adults, looks at digital literacy. In particular, it calls on countries to track the percentage of youth and adults who have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in digital literacy skills.

Both the target and indicator reflect the commitment and forward-thinking of countries. But what exactly does it mean to achieve a minimum level of digital skills? Clearly the contexts will vary from one country to another. The challenge lies in finding a sufficiently broad definition that reflects these different contexts and priorities of countries while developing a measurement approach to generate the internationally comparable data needed to monitor progress towards SDG 4.

This has been the priority of a task force of experts and country representatives, established by the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) and chaired by the GEM Report. This work is crucial – we need a framework so that the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) can collect the data as the official source of SDG 4 indicators and internationally comparable education data and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report can analyse the results and help keep countries and donors on track to achieve the goal. So we have been working together with the Hong Kong University’s Centre for Information Technology in Education (CITE) and the GAML task force to develop the first version of the Digital Literacy Global Framework. Continue reading

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Gender stereotypes in Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Malaysian and Pakistani textbooks

By M Niaz Asadullah, Professor of Development Economics at the University of Malaya, Malaysia, and Kazi Mukitul Islam, German Embassy, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

5. TEXTBOOKSFemale education is widely believed to benefit society through both economic and non-economic channels. Yet, for decades, girls around the developing world have lagged behind boys in education. Realizing the seriousness of the problem, governments around the world united at the start of the millennium and increased investment in women’s education. The UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) campaign prioritized gender equality in all spheres of the society. The response has been overwhelming. In countries, such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia, girls today outnumber boys in classrooms. According to the 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report, the number of countries with gender parity in primary education increased from 83 to 104 in the 2000s. On average, in South Asian countries, from a low of 83 girls enrolled for every 100 boys in 1999, parity had been achieved by 2012.

While this achievement calls for celebration, there are two reasons for concern. Not all countries have succeeded in closing the gender gap in enrolment. According to the latest UNESCO eAtlas of Gender Inequalities, advances have been disappointing in Nigeria and Pakistan. Moreover, there is growing recognition of the fact that school textbooks lack gender balance, as the 2018 Gender Review reminds us. School education encourages girls to perform traditional roles. Gender bias in textbooks remains difficult to reverse and is present in far more countries than the gender gap in enrolment.

A few years ago, sociologist R. Blumberg reviewed the available literature on gender bias in curricula contents. While schoolbooks are steeped in sexism even in high income counties, this is particularly a problem in countries where progress in girl’s school enrolment remains low. Continue reading

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Highlights from the 2018 Gender Review launch in New York

“Young women aren’t the changemakers of the future, they are the here and n3ow” said GenUN Fellow, Rabita Tareque to a room of civil society representatives, teachers, policy makers, academics and donors at Thursday’s global launch of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report’s 2018 Gender Review in New York.

“International Women’s Day is an occasion to recall that education is the linchpin for empowering women to build a better world”, stated panellist Nora Fyles, Head of the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) a key partner on the publication. “There has been a lot to celebrate in recent years in terms of ensuring girls do not miss out on education opportunities and we have made huge strides in girls’ education globally since the first GEM Report Gender Review six years ago”.

The event co-hosted by the GEM Report, UNGEI and the Malala Fund was timed to coincide with the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women, a pivotal event on the international human rights calendar.

In his presentation, the Director of the GEM Report Manos Antoninis highlighted the fundamental link between gender equality and education in pushing the development agenda forward. “It is important to recall that advancing equal rights and opportunities between women and men is critical for a sustainable future. This refers to all pillars. Not just social equality but also slowing down the pace of climate change, achieving shared prosperity, and ensuring effective governance – all of which require women’s full participation.” Continue reading

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Stepping up the pace towards gender equality in education through stronger accountability

review coverInternational Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere. It also acts as a reminder that although much has been accomplished around the world, there is a long way to go to reach full equality. For this to happen, we must empower every girl and woman by granting them the right to an education, thereby promoting lifelong learning opportunities.

Gender equality cannot be met without taking a stand against the millions of girls currently out of school, denied their right to education or being treated unfairly in the classroom. The Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) is publishing its sixth Gender Review on 8 March. It explores the shortfalls in securing gender equality in education and proposes solutions to the challenges we face.

Meeting our commitments to education for girls and women

The fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and SDG 4 in particular, on which we concentrate our efforts, requires bold and united action. The gender gap remains – in entry to education, leadership opportunities and stereotypes.

Let’s take a look at the facts. In 2015, 193 countries around the world committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where UNESCO played a pivotal role in conceiving a framework dedicated to delivering “inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Continue reading

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Campaigning for everybody to claim their right to education

By Victoria Ibiwoye, Youth Representative of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee

Victoria 1.jpgLast week I delivered a petition signed by over 1000 right-to-education campaigners from over 110 countries at the fourth meeting of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The petition calls on governments worldwide to take concrete steps towards strengthening the right to education in every country.

As one of the nine global youth ambassadors for the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report’s right to education campaign, it was an honour to be able to address representatives from Member States, UN agencies, other multilateral and regional organizations, teacher and civil society networks on behalf of youth education advocates from around the world.

My fellow youth ambassadors and I have benefited from having access to good quality education. The education we received has given us skills that help us deal with complexities and uncertainties. And we continue to learn at every age both formally and informally. Continue reading

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Fulfilling a collective responsibility to provide global public goods in education

By Manos Antoninis and Priya Joshi, Global Education Monitoring Report

gpg 2.pngGlobal public goods are the institutions, mechanisms, and outcomes that transcend borders and provide benefits to all. Controlling infectious diseases, tackling climate change, enhancing international financial stability, strengthening international trade, and achieving peace and security are all global public goods, as is knowledge for development.

However, the level of provision of global public goods is insufficient. Some countries may free-ride on other countries’ efforts. Moreover, global public goods are political: some countries may be unwilling to support them, as when they resist monitoring their compliance with international agreements. Or they may disagree with how they should be delivered. Their provision depends on catalytic action from responsible leadership, which may be lacking. And, as the 2017/8 Global Education Monitoring Report argued, the increasing focus on short-term results distorts financing decisions.

cover.PNGGlobal public goods in education are linked to knowledge for global development. What precisely these goods are is however contested. A policy paper, launched today by the Global Education Monitoring Report at a side event in the fourth meeting of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, draws attention to three types of global public goods in education – data, research and networks. It calls for building consensus towards priorities that are fit for the purpose of achieving SDG 4.

Supporting global public goods in education will require joint, long-term vision and real leadership from the wealthier countries, combined with support from philanthropic institutions that value the complexity of learning. It is important to resist piecemeal, short-term, project-based approaches that would put the delivery of global public goods at risk. Continue reading

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SDG4-Education 2030 Steering Committee: Time for a concerted push to help countries produce the best possible data

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and Dankert Vedeler, Co-Chair of the SDG Education 2030 Steering Committee and Assistant Director General of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research

sdg4With so many threads coming together… the task now is to weave them into one coherent whole as we push for the best possible data on education to monitor progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). And the Fourth SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee Meeting in Paris this week is an opportunity to do just that.

Progress is being made in defining SDG 4 indicators

There is plenty of good news: the indicators and methodologies developed by the UIS and the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) were endorsed by the meeting of the Technical Cooperation Group (TCG) in January, which means that the Institute can start producing 33 SDG 4 indicators in 2018. The question is whether countries have the capacity to collect and report the data.

In response, the UIS is working with countries and partners to help improve the coverage of the indicators by using a wider range of data sources. Consider the example of Indicator 4.3.1, the participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex. A well-developed methodology was already in place and now the TCG has approved new data sources to cover more countries, such as labour force and other national household surveys. The UIS is committed to help countries make better use of their existing data sources to report on the SDG 4 monitoring framework.

Another example is Indicator 4.5.2, the percentage of students in primary education whose first or home language is the language of instruction. Instead of only relying on administrative records, countries could collect the data by using the background questionnaires designed for families and students in international, regional or national learning assessments. To pave the way forward, the UIS is developing a set of sample questions that countries could adapt. This is just another example of ways in which we can make the most of existing surveys to help countries meet the demand for SDG 4 data. Continue reading

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