Sazhida runs a kindergarten for pastoralist children in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan during the summer

This content comes from our newly released interactive youth version of the 2019 GEM Report, presented today at the UN Youth Forum in New York.

sazhida blog 1Jailoo kindergartens provide education for the children of pastoralist families who move to mountain pastures (jailoo) in the summer to fatten their livestock for the winter. The kindergartens ensure that children do not fall behind in their studies while their families are on the move. Lessons are designed to match the lifestyle of the children and teachers are equipped with culturally responsive teaching materials.

‘I teach lessons related to livelihoods,’ Sazhida told us. ‘For example, we hold a lesson on the topic of kurut, and so we teach how to cook it. Children develop their speech and learn diligence, and also learn to count and establish order and cleanliness.

Also, in lessons, children learn to paint on stones, and make a herbarium; in this way, we develop a love for nature. In lessons, we also teach national traditions and national games.’

Pioneered by the Aga Khan Foundation Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, 21 jailoo kindergartens are currently operating. They follow the national pre-school curriculum and employ teachers trained in current best practices for early childhood development. An internal assessment found that children attending these kindergartens scored significantly higher in their tests in autumn than those who did not attend them. Continue reading

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Just a political move or more? Additional pay-outs to the poorest students announced in Thailand

In late 2018, it was announced that about 600,000 students considered to be ‘very poor’ will receive an extra $24 per semester by the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), created by the government .

Some question the timing of the announcement, shortly before a general election scheduled for February 24. Inequalities are bound to form a central part of the election campaign given that a recent report by Credit Suisse has named Thailand the most unequal country in the world, with one percent of the population exposed for owning two thirds of its wealth. This has unearthed an evident clamour of outrage from a social justice advocacy group in the country made up of 13 organisations, and resulted in some political change.

Using the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) we can see how far some of the inequalities stretch. While around 80% on average complete lower secondary education, this drops to just 67% for the poorest young men in urban areas.

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The plan to increase the funding to address inequalities in Thailand was made by the EEF and the Office of Basic Education Commission. The new public fund targeting the poorest indicates that solutions to education exclusion requires the Ministry of Education to cooperate with other ministries. Continue reading

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Malaysia says it will redress the gender bias in its textbooks

Last year, social media helped call out an infographic being studied by nine year olds in a Year 2 health and physical education textbook in Malaysia showing that girls should protect their modesty or risk being shamed and having their family’s honour questioned.

Screenshot 2019-02-12 at 11.00.24The infographic has now been covered up in the textbooks, with a correction page issued to schools.

The graphic on the left taken from the textbook in question is about a girl called Amira who it says would be shamed if she did not look after the ‘modesty of her genitals’ by dressing modestly, if she went to quiet places alone and did not get changed behind closed doors.

The content raised eyebrows for the way that it perpetuated victim-blaming for sexual assault among young girls. As a result of the clamour, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development announced in January that it would take a closer look at the lack of sex education in Malaysian schools.

This is not the first time that parents and the community have managed to use the power of their voices to change textbook content. The 2017/8 GEM Report showed that advocacy efforts in the USA by the Texas Freedom Network, for instance, saw publishers revise questionable text that was distorting climate change facts. Continue reading

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Unlock education for everyone

By Tisha Verma, Save the Children

2019 is a critical year for children and young people everywhere. It’s critical in building a world where every child gets the chance to learn.

The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July in New York will include a review of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), which promises quality inclusive education for all by 2030.

Whilst there are some exceptions, an honest appraisal of progress towards achieving SDG4 will point to serious and often growing gaps.  We know that too many children and young people are still being denied access to education, particularly those that face deprivation and marginalisation:

  • 262 million children and young people remain out of school
  • Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school
  • Twice as many girls as boys will never start school
  • Half of children with disabilities in lower and middle-income countries do not go to school.

And when we consider those children who do access school, we see that many children are in school, but are not learning and are not realising their right to a quality, inclusive education. A staggering 387 million children of primary school age will not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading; two-thirds of them – 262 million – are in school.

send my friend to school.PNGIt doesn’t have to be this way though, and this year poses some real opportunities to unlock education for everyone— but only if we nail down exactly how we are going to do it and where the money is going to come from.

The Send My Friend to School coalition in the UK today launches their 2019 campaign, ‘Unlock education for everyone’.  Thousands of schools and young people across the UK will create and present paper keys to their local MP, calling on the UK to give all children the chance of an education.

And the campaign has launched with a new report, ‘Unlock Education for Everyone’, which identifies why inequality in education persists and what needs to be done to tackle it. Continue reading

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An e-textbook scandal rocks Antigua

antigua 1A couple of weeks ago, the leader of the opposition in Antigua, Jamale Pringle, called for the resignation of the Minister of Education, Michael Browne. Why?

The heat has been turned up over the matter of some 6,000 e-books due to be used in secondary schools. These books were contracted from an Indian firm, FortunaPix, for $9 million. The heart of the debate lies over an additional licensing fee of US$250 for every eBook user per year, totaling $5 million per annum, that was never brought to the attention of the Cabinet.

The Education Minister is being accused of not following correct contractual procedures. Some are even questioning whether he received kick-backs during the procurement, while leaving the country with this annual bill. This has resulted in the Prime Minister warning of consequences for those who signed the contract. It also led to the Education Minister telling the 2019 budget debate “There was no hanky panky. There was no attempt to deceive, there was no attempt to cover-up, there was no effort to hide.”

This is not the first time the government has decided to launch into e-books. The same initiative was tried in 2016, with the following statement on the government’s press release “The move to digitize the textbooks is expected to significantly reduce the expense incurred by the Board of Education. The statutory body spends more than four million dollars annually on textbooks to meet the demands of students.Continue reading

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Turning the spotlight on those left behind to mark the first International Day of Education

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

On the first International Day of Education, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report announce a new partnership to demonstrate education inequalities and show those lagging behind in achieving the global UN education goal, SDG 4.

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The GEM Report and the UIS have worked together to improve the data available in the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE), highlighting disparities in education access, participation and attainment that hide behind average statistics.  The database brings together data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and other national household surveys and learning assessments from over 160 countries.

Users can compare education outcomes between countries, and between groups within countries, according to factors associated with inequality, including sex, location, wealth and ethnicity. Continue reading

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The GEM Report’s other new year’s resolutions in response to the consultation on the 2020 Report on inclusion

A new year, and an adjusted plan, this time thanks to the feedback provided during the consultation for the 2020 GEM Report on education and inclusion carried out during the second half of last year.

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No sooner has one GEM Report been printed than the next is being prepared… The consultation for the 2020 GEM Report on inclusion was launched in July based on the concept note, which was downloaded 3,600 times. Almost 5,000 people visited the online site, a record for the Report, while 93 e-mails and 61 comments were contributed. In addition, two webinars and eight national presentations were organized, including in Nigeria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The concept note had outlined the scope of the 2020 GEM Report and its intention to consultation quoteencompass all learners, focusing on six elements necessary to provide quality education to all: laws and policies; governance and finance; curricula and learning materials; teachers, school leaders and education support personnel; schools; and communities, parents and students.

2019 is marking the 25th anniversary of the Salamanca Declaration. The consultation feedback was fully supportive of the concept note’s adoption of the Declaration’s definition of inclusive education, as the approach that is ‘enabling schools to serve all children’. Diversity should not be tolerated or respected but celebrated. But the comments received also pointed our team towards areas across these six elements of inclusive education that had received insufficient or no attention in the concept note. Continue reading

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