Shortening the journey from information to understanding: The new UIS website goes live

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

uis-blogThe new UIS website, launched today, offers compelling, innovative ways to find – and use – the best available information on what is happening in education, science, culture and communication worldwide. The new site represents a radical shift in the way we present our data. Rather than sending our visitors to complex databases, the new site zeroes in on the kind of information that people want in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals, packaged in the way that is most useful for them.

The biggest innovation has been to ‘unpack’ the UIS database, breaking down the once separate siloes of hard data, analysis (reports) and the story-telling provided by data visualisations and other tools. Now our web users can see the data in their full context. Continue reading

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National learning assessments: there’s more to gain than valuable data


learning-blog-1By Carmela Maria Salzano, International Development Consultant

While the drive to benchmark global progress in improving education outcomes, and to increase the evidence-base for education policy making, has imbued the dialogue around monitoring SDG 4.1 with a strongly technical hue, the GEM Report’s World Education Blog has underscored that “…this is far from just a technical debate. Rather, it goes to the heart of what we aspire to in education for the next generation.” 

Countries’ national learning assessments show which outcomes are valued, and how they handle equity

4-1National learning assessments, which are a key source of the global data for SDG 4.1, show the extent to which ‘all girls and boys….[are acquiring] relevant and effective learning outcomes’ while revealing important information on the types of knowledge and skills now valued by different education systems. But they can also tell us much about how far governments have integrated their commitments to equity and raising learning standards for all learners across all components of their education systems.

Beyond the traditional markers of expenditures per child, curriculum, pedagogy and teaching practice, the importance of national examinations systems as a key driver of equity is often overlooked. Yet the influence of assessment practice on ensuring equitable outcomes becomes apparent when we consider how many (and what types) of learners are included, or left out, by current methods of testing.

To this extent, the current spotlight on national learning assessments opens up an important window of opportunity to discuss the deeper transformations needed in national examinations systems worldwide. Such discussions may contribute to the development of mechanisms for recording the broader spectrum of skills and higher-order knowledge now recognized as ‘relevant and effective’ outcomes of learning within our new global education goal. At the very least, the global dialogue may help to stress the need for more inclusive assessment policies enabling a greater diversity of learners to have their skills recognized and validated. Continue reading

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School-related gender-based violence must be eliminated

Today, November 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The campaign aims to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls and the Global Working Group to End School-Related Gender-Based Violence is using it to highlight the unacceptable violence that too many children and young people experience while trying to get an education.

Shockingly, an estimated 246 million children experience violence in and around school every year. However, education systems are not always innocent when it comes to discussing why this violence takes place. The 2016 GEM Report considers the complex relationship between education and violence showing that while the right sort of education can help prevent violence, the wrong type can incite it or allow it to fester. Violence also often happens in and around school buildings, and school and community leaders must take steps to ensure that schools are free from intimidation and violence.

Addressing this issue head on is crucial. Any violence at, or on the way to and from school, impacts children’s sense of safety and well-being, and can leave deep psychological scars. It is also detrimental to children and young people’s education – it makes them much more likely to fall behind in learning, to skip classes or drop out.

“You’re such a girl”

1Frequently the violence that children and young people experience in or around school is related to gender norms and expectations, undermining not only inclusive, quality education but also gender equality. School-related gender-based violence shares the same root causes as the pervasive gender-based violence that remains a barrier to gender equality in all societies. These include systematic inequalities and unequal power dynamics, as well as stereotypes and restrictive attitudes and expectations of how boys and girls should behave. School-related gender-based violence affects all children, though girls are particularly vulnerable. Fear for girls’ safety in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea have led parents to withdraw girls from school completely. Continue reading

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Lifelong learning will help with our much needed shift to greener economies

Did you learn about climate change when you were in school? If you’re not in today’s ‘youth’ bracket, it’s unlikely that you did. If we are to respond to the impact of climate change and other critical environmental challenges today then we need opportunities to continue to learn throughout our lives. Sustainable Development Goal 4 commits to doing this by promoting ‘lifelong learning opportunities for all.’ The learning that takes place throughout our lives, whether at home, at school, or in our communities and workplaces,  shapes our values and attitudes, and influences our behavior. This new poster, released with our new publication, Planet, for the COP22, illustrates what this means in reality.


Quite apart from the many actions we can take at home and in our communities, if our economies don’t change, and don’t start ensuring that prosperity is not at the expense of our environment, we will not cut carbon emissions sufficiently to secure our future. Continue reading

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COP22: Women, climate change and disaster resilience

On Monday during the high-level event on Education Day at COP22 the GEM Report gave a keynote presentation on the important role that education plays in improving environmental knowledge and changing behavior. Yesterday was Gender Day at COP22, showing how important gender equality and women’s human rights are for combating climate change. Our Gender Review of the 2016 GEM Report discusses these points and shows– amongst other things – the need for women to be active partners in building resilience and environmental sustainability.
done-environmentResearch suggests women express more concern than men for the environment and are more supportive of pro-environment policy. For example, countries with higher female parliamentary representation were found to be more likely to ratify international environmental treaties.
Women, girls, boys and men all possess important skills and capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from crisis; how vital it is that everyone is included in finding solutions to the environmental challenges we face.

Continue reading

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What is the ‘whole school approach’ to environmental education?

We have launched a new poster to coincide with the COP 22 taking place this week in Marrakech Morocco showing exactly what is meant by a ‘whole school approach’ to sustainability.

As students spend significant time in the classroom, schools and universities are increasingly called upon to act as role models for sustainable development. The whole school approach to environmental education and learning for sustainability incorporates all aspects of a school: curriculum, extracurricular activities, teacher training, human resources, infrastructure, operations and processes.

This poster, and its key messages, portray major research findings from our PLANET publication released this week, an extraction from the latest 2016 GEM Report, Education for People and Planet.


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The COP22 kicks off practical discussions about the role of education within climate change responses

cop-22The critical role of education in a global response to climate change was recognized in Article 12 of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, serves to kick-off its implementation, and is therefore dedicating November 14 to education. On that day, and feeding into the discussions, we will be launching  PLANET: Education for environmental sustainability and green growth at a high-level panel event and press conference. We hope the messages in our latest report can show the practical ways that education can be a critical partner for climate change awareness and resilience.

coverOur new publication, PLANET, taken from the full 2016 GEM Report, will form the key note presentation during the high-level panel debate at the start of the Education Day entitled “Education – A key driver to scale-up climate action”. This event includes high-level speakers including UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova, HRH Princess Lalla Hasna of Morocco, Manos Antoninis from the GEM Report together with the Minister of Education from Morocco, Mr Rachid Benmokhtar Benabdallah. The event will serve to discuss the way that education can enhance the implementation of the climate agenda and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

The new Planet publication shows how education has a key role to play in addressing environmental challenges, whether their cause is believed to be economic or demographic, or global, national or individual actions. Education can be used to mitigate specific environmental issues and respond to their impact, but also to address the behaviour that causes them. Continue reading

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