We are now ready to start monitoring early-grade learning

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

early grade learning blogYoung learners have moved up the data agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 4! The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and its partners have been pushing to upgrade SDG 4 Indicator 4.1.1a on measuring learning outcomes in Grades 2 and 3, and yesterday we heard that our efforts have been successful.

Formerly a Tier 3 indicator in the official classification – meaning that no methodology was in place to produce the necessary data – the IAEG-SDGs meeting in Stockholm examined our bid to upgrade this to a Tier 2level, in other words a conceptually clear indicator with an established reporting methodology. I’m glad to say that our bid was endorsed, meaning that the first steps have been taken to measure the reading and mathematics skills that kick-start lifelong learning.

This welcome news could not be more timely. With Tier 3 indicators at risk of being  dropped from the education agenda in 2019, when all indicators are due for review, there was a danger that this critical learning stage might fall through the cracks. Without their own indicator, younger children would not get the same attention as those in higher grades, making it much harder to track progress and intervene at an early stage to support children who are struggling. Learning gaps are harder to close later on, not only for individual children, but also for entire countries that find it difficult to make up the lost ground. Continue reading

Posted in monitoring, Primary school, sdg, sdgs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Education is not a privilege, it’s a legal right

By Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education, UNESCO

right to educationEducation is like a seed. And for this empowering right to flourish and grow, it must have the best conditions. Education must not only be accessible to all, it must be of the highest quality. And it is not a privilege to be bestowed by a government, it is a legal right for everyone – children, youth and adults.

This looks good on paper yet is far from being a reality for millions around the world. Today less than 1 in 5 countries legally guarantee 12 years of free and compulsory education.

As we mark the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are still 262 million children out of school, and more than 750 million youth and adults unable to read and write. This is unacceptable and countries must ensure that the millions of people left behind have access to the powerful seed of education they are entitled to. Continue reading

Posted in accountability, monitoring, right to education, sdg, sdgs, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Tanzania has suspended family planning commercials in the country ‘with immediate effect’

tanzaniaAt the end of September, the government of the United Republic of Tanzania announced to international agencies that they should “stop with immediate effect airing and publishing any family planning contents in any media channels” running any family planning content in the media. A letter was then also issued to FHI  360 to immediately stop the adverts it was running with USAID’s funding.

This announcement came one week after the President, John Magufuli, said that ‘those going for family planning are lazy…they are afraid they will not be able to feed their children’.

The United Republic of Tanzania, a country in eastern Africa, has a population of around 53 million people. Forty-nine per cent live on less than $2 (£1.50) a day. On average, a woman in Tanzania has more than five children, which is among the highest rates in the world. Pregnancy rates are also high among teenagers: a quarter of Tanzanian girls aged 15-19 are pregnant or have given birth.  Continue reading

Posted in Gender, Health, sexuality education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

More testing?

By Manos Antoninis and William C. Smith

This blog looks at the contrasting findings in the 2017/8 GEM Report on Accountability and a recent study by Berbauer, Hanushek, and Woessmann over whether more testing is good for education or not.

UNesco6 FFFReleased a year ago on this day, the 2017/8 GEM Report highlighted the multiple layers of accountability in education: different mechanisms, several actors, contrasting perceptions and nuanced meanings across languages.

One of its key messages was that, while accountability was an essential part of a solution package for challenges in education systems, it was necessary that all actors:

‘…should approach the design of accountability with a degree of humility, recognizing that education problems are complex in nature and often do not lend themselves to a single solution.’

It noted the trend in richer countries of tying student test scores to hold schools and teachers accountable. But it found that this approach risked promoting unhealthy competition, gaming the system and further marginalizing disadvantaged students. Continue reading

Posted in accountability, teaching, Testing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Who benefits from abolishing secondary school fees in Malawi, and what are the costs?

By Esme Kadzamira, Centre for Education Research and Training, University of Malawi, Pauline Rose, Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, University of Cambridge and Asma Zubairi, Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, University of Cambridge.

As Malawi prepares for Presidential elections next May, the Minister of Education Bright Msaka has announced the abolition of secondary school fees with immediate effect. The move is being presented as removing barriers preventing all children accessing secondary education, but the speed of the change could end up increasing the marginalisation of children from the poorest households.

Malawi is not alone in abolishing fees for secondary schooling: other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ghana and Sierra Leone, have recently made similar announcements. The reform seems to be closely linked to national political cycles, while using the education Sustainable Development Goal’s target 4.1 as justification. While expanding access to equitable and inclusive quality secondary education has many benefits, connecting the move to political announcements raises important questions, with higher risks for long-term consequences. Continue reading

Posted in Developing countries, Finance, rural development, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A teacher remains fiercely committed to her students as UNRWA schools face closure

nesrin on the moveNesrin Ayoub is the head-teacher of an UNRWA-run girls’ primary school of 450 girls aged 6-16 years in Ein Hilweh Refugee Camp, in Lebanon. All the children are all Palestine refugees from Lebanon and Syria. People in the Ein Hilweh Camp live in harsh conditions of socio-economic challenges and unstable security conditions where armed clashes and riots erupt many times a year.

2nesrin blog 1Nesrin is spearheading our campaign #EducationOnTheMove which tracks migrants and refugees all over the world as they try to access education in their new countries. Its aim is to help us understand the messages in the forthcoming 2019 GEM Report, Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls, in the context of peoples’ real-life experiences.

She has witnessed stray bullets entering her class when teaching, armed clashes erupting while in school, with the school sometimes hit, and windows smashed. Such riots lead to students being evacuated to shelters, and even helped to escape outside of the camp to seek shelter elsewhere. Schools in the camp shut for several days during the school year. Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, migration, refugees, Refugees and displaced people, Uncategorized, violence | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

It is time to upgrade the SDG 4 learning indicator for young children

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

target 4.1 blogWe are on the cusp of a new phase in the global measurement of learning. For the first time, representatives of cross-national learning assessments have agreed on a set of minimum proficiency levels on the reading and mathematical skills that all children need to learn.

This exciting new development will be at the top of the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML), which will bring together representatives of countries, assessment agencies, donors and civil society groups from 17-18 October in Hamburg.

At the heart of the matter is SDG Indicator 4.1.1 which measures the proportion of children and young people: (a) grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex.

A major challenge has been to define a standard of minimum proficiency that is widely applicable across countries. To pave the way forward, the UIS brought together representatives of just about every cross-national and regional assessment initiative[1] and brokered an agreement on a proposed set of definitions of the skills and performance levels that all children should acquire.  Continue reading

Posted in data, Literacy, monitoring, sdgs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments