“Education is far too important to be left solely to the government or educational institutions”

cover ENI believe that it is no longer enough for us to pay lip service to education; now is the time to insist on transparency and accountability in education,” said Victoria Ibiwoye, youth representative of the SDG Education 2030 Steering Committee from Nigeria.

Less than five days after the launch of the youth version of the GEM Report, Victoria joined Dr Koumbou Boly Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, the GEM Report Director Manos Antoninis, and fellow youth ambassadors Helge Schwitters and Dylan Barry for a digital launch event. The 2017/8 Youth Report addresses the theme of accountability in education and the role of students in upholding and championing the right to education.

“We are joined here today by a wonderful group of young bolly barry.pngactivists for education,” said Dr Bolly Barry as she opened the event. She spoke of the importance for all youth to advocate for the right to education, to raise awareness among their peers that they have this right, and to empower them to claim it. Continue reading

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Demanding real accountability for real schooling in Pakistan

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This blog is written by Dr Jamila Razzaq, Co-founding President Aappa Aziz Trust Pakistan and Haider Fancy, Chief of Strategy, Planning, and Development, Nasra Public Schools, also authors of case study on accountability and education in Pakistan commissioned for the 2017/8 GEM Report. The blog is part of a series showing that accountability in education is shaped by a country’s history and political, social, and cultural context.

Background: Pakistan’s education system

Since the creation of the state of Pakistan in 1947, there has been a four-tier education system: madrassas (religious schools), private schools (English and Urdu), public schools, and army schools. Pakistan followed a centralised education system until the passage of the 18th amendment in April 2010, which decentralized education, limited the role of the federal government, and expanded the purview of provinces.


Pakistan has seen many improvements in its public education system over the past few years in line with the increased in the share of total government expenditure on education to 13.2%. The teacher recruitment process has steadily drifted towards merit based hiring, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces, where the introduction of improved monitoring processes has also reduced unauthorized absenteeism and the phenomenon of Large government and donor-funded initiatives have also improved school infrastructure.

q1Yet, at the same time, the growth of enrolment in private primary schools from about 18 million students in 2010 to about 20 million in 2015-16 is proof that families are willing and able to pay for schooling.

Still, there remain at least 24 million children, adolescents and youth out of school. Even more alarming is the fact that basic literacy and numeracy skills leave much to be desired. The latest Annual Status of Education Report demonstrates that only about 15% of grade 2 students had grade level competency in English or arithmetic and about 17% had grade level competencies in their local languages.

To achieve meaningful improvements in access to education and the quality of education, systems of accountability need to identify the gaps in education provision at local, regional and national levels. There is investment in monitoring mechanisms but their focus on enrolment and physical infrastructure is narrow. Continue reading

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Learn more from our international youth ambassadors – Join our digital launch event

Picture3This afternoon at 4 PM (GMT), the GEM Report will host a digital launch event for the 2017/8 Youth Report.

The digital launch will bring together some of the key youth ambassadors for the GEM Report #WhosAccountable campaign on the right to education, including:

  • Dr Koumbou Boly Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education,
  • Salam Al-Nukta, Global activist for education and women’s rights, Syria. TEDxyouth/women organizer, founder of the ChangeMakers initiative, and youth representative to the GEM Reports Advisory Board
  • Helge Schwitters, President of the European Students’ Union and a student at the University of Oslo, Norway.
  • Victoria Ibiwoye, youth representative of the SDG Education 2030 Steering Committee from Nigeria;
  • Vivian Onano, Partnerships Manager of the SEED Project from Kenya; and
  • Dylan Barry, who headed up the #FeesMustFall student protest economic Research task team in South Africa.

The presenters will share their first-hand experience of campaigning around the right to education and dos and don’ts for future campaigners! Continue reading

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GEM launches new campaign to help citizens claim their legal Right to Education

Picture1Although the majority of countries recognize the right to education through international and national law, the fulfilment of the right to education is far from being a reality. This is why we have launched a campaign to make sure the right to education is enforceable in countries around the world. Citizens should be able to take their governments to court if they violate this right.  If they can’t, a vital backstop in accountability is missing.

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) shows that 264 million children and adolescents are still out of school, with girls in most countries the first to be excluded. Refugees, migrants and internally displaced people escaping from conflicts, natural disasters or economic hardship face huge challenges to access education. As our WIDE database shows, other marginalized groups, such as children from indigenous or minority backgrounds, and the poor also continue to encounter barriers to the right to education. The lack of access to and violations of the right to education result from discriminatory practices, weak legal safeguards, poor execution of policies and inadequate budget allocations for education by governments.

Picture3On 8 December, the GEM Report launched a youth campaign, #WhosAccountable to support the enforcement of the right to education ahead of Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10. Launched in collaboration with nine global youth ambassadors, and over 15 national and international education partners including the Right to Education Initiative, Equal Education and the Global Partnership for Education, the Campaign calls on young people to come together, exercise their collective voice, and call on governments to make sure the right to education is enforced. Continue reading

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Students play a vital role in holding governments to account for education

cover ENThe youth version of the 2017/8 Global Education
Monitoring (GEM) Report
on accountability was released today.  It contains a call to action in the form of a global campaign, #WhosAccountable, to support the enforcement of 1people’s right to education ahead of Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10.

The fifth Youth Report produced by the GEM Report team continues the tradition of asking young people to give their take on the 2017/8 GEM Report’s key findings. It shows that youth play a vital role in holding governments accountable for equitable, quality education.

Everyone has a role to play in improving education

It would be easy to sit back and assume that achieving equitable, quality education for all is up to governments and international organizations. However, young people have responsibilities in gadoeducation too.  “Our education system is a framework or a puzzle where each actor has its role, and when one of them breaks the chain, the whole system is impacted” explains 2Filomena a high-school student from Brazil. For example, students have to turn up to classes, adhere to codes of conduct on good behaviour and focus on learning. Just as governments should be held to account for meeting their responsibilities, students shouldn’t be let off the hook for theirs.

Students also play an important role in holding others to account if they fail to meet their responsibilities. This includes being part of social movements and protests and getting involved with higher education governing boards and committees. Continue reading

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Fighting female genital mutilation: Education matters

Picture1There are approximately 45 million girls of primary and secondary school age not going to school in sub-Saharan Africa according to the UIS – more than in any other region. Our 2017/8 report showed that across 18 countries in the region, gender-based violence, as measured by intimate partner violence, early marriage and female genital mutilation, was one of the factors that pushed girls out of school. It’s time for these abhorrent practices to stop.

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) may not seem a large-scale problem. Yet, while the exact number of girls and women worldwide being subjected to the practice remains unknown, what we do know is that at least 200 million girls and women in thirty countries have been victims of the practice, with the highest concentrations in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries, such as Somalia, for instance, 98% of girls and women, aged 15 to 49 years have undergone FGM/C.


Percentage of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation, by country. Source: UNICEF 2013

With large scale migration, the practice is not confined to poor countries. For example, in the past year, 9,000 cases were attended to by the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and cases have almost tripled since 1990 in the United States. While the prevalence is falling worldwide, sadly the number of cases may still rise due to population growth. If current trends continue, 15 million more girls between ages 15 and 19 will be subjected to the practice globally by 2030.

Due to deeply entrenched social and cultural practice in many places, it is commonplace for girls aged below 10 years to be pulled out of formal education, and forced to take part in sometimes heinous traditional female initiation ceremonies, such as cutting. In many contexts, the social norm upholding the practice is so powerful that families have their daughters cut even when they are aware of the long-term physical harm it can cause. Indeed, as reported in a UNICEF report, there is a high degree of discrepancy between the low support for FGM/C and the high prevalence of its practice. This just goes to show the strength of a tradition, and the extent of the battle ahead of us if we are to stop it. Continue reading

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A penalizing system of accountability in Australia exacerbates equity gaps in education

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This blog is written by Dr. Emma Rowe, Lecturer in Education in the School of Education, Deakin University, and the author of a case study on accountability and education in Australia commissioned for the 2017/8 GEM Report. The blog is part of a series showing that accountability in education is shaped by a country’s history and political, social, and cultural context.

Background: Australia’s education system

Australia’s education system is fundamentally centralized. Central bodies (federal or state) fund schools and make key decisions on curriculum. However, decentralization of schools has remained the over-arching goal of successive governments.  The 2004 Act stipulates that schools maintain the authority to recruit their own staff, develop their own school charters, elect independent school councils and operate and determine their own budget. In 2014, the federal government legislated Independent Public Schools with the aim to make one-fourth of public schools in Australia autonomous and decentralized.


Politicians and policy-makers tend to regard the improvement of standardized test results as the primary challenge. The 2013 Act aims ‘for Australia to be placed, by 2025, in the top 5 highest performing countries’ in terms of OECD PISA results. However, the Federal Review of Funding also found a ‘significant gap between the highest and lowest performing students in Australia, relative to other OECD countries’, estimated at 3 to 3.5 years. Schools significantly influence student educational outcomes due to clustering of low socio-economic status students. Rural and remote schools are more likely to serve lower socio-economic status cohorts of students, and struggle for resources, including experienced teachers. And almost half of Australia’s population consists of first- or second-generation migrants.

A primary stated aim for Australia is to achieve high-quality and high-equity education and to be competitive within the global landscape. Our current policies around accountability are designed in such a way to meet this objective. But these policies rely heavily on standardized testing and utilize punitive means of accountability. A penalizing system of accountability exacerbates equity gaps. Continue reading

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