Sabine Kreutzer: putting the child at the centre in school models in Germany

Sabine is one of many champions being highlighted by the GEM Report in the run up to the launch of its 2020 publication on inclusion and education: All means all, due out 23 June. In their own way, and in multiple countries around the world, these champions are fighting for learner diversity to be celebrated, rather than ignored.

Sabine, the principal of Marie Kahle secondary school in Bonn, Germany, understood quickly in her career that child-focused education was key for learning. Eleven years ago, when her school was founded, she decided that children were the most important asset of her school and, ever since, her school has implemented initiatives to keep that idea at the core of its operations.

Bonn is a diverse community, home to many immigrants from African and Middle Eastern counties. Sabine is proud to welcome 960 students at her school including many children whose native tongue is not German and children with special needs.

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Posted in Basic education, Early childhood care and education, Equality, europe, immigration, Inclusion, Language | Leave a comment

Suraj Yengde: Trying to leave his caste behind him to pursue his education

Suraj Yengde was born in Maharashtra in India into the Dalit caste. His parents enrolled him into a Christian school where caste still mattered, but less than it does in the public system. India has a system of affirmative action in admissions to universities for Dalits and other lower castes, which he benefited from and was accepted to the University of Mumbai. He now has a LL.M. degree from the UK and a PhD from South Africa. At 30, he is now a fellow and postdoc at Harvard Kennedy School, one of only three caste members to be studying there as far as he is aware.

“As a Dalit, the only option you have, except doing your traditional occupation, is education. If you don’t pursue education, you go back to your caste-centered traditional job such as cleaning bathrooms and toilets, doing manual labour.”

Reflecting on education in his hometown, he explains that after the 12th grade, options are very much limited if you come from a lower caste. Most children end up in the same socio-economic situation as their parents even if they do not want to. They are unlikely to make it to college and extremely unlikely to study abroad like Yengde did. According to census data, only 2.4 percent of Dalits in India have a university degree.

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The world post-Covid-19 might be the world pre-Incheon – or even pre-Dakar

By Sheldon Shaeffer, Chair, Board of Directors, Asia=Pacific Regional Network on Early Childhood (ARNEC)

Post-Covid-19, the world will not be the same for a very long time. Life may be so different that there might not even be a post-Covid-19 world in the sense of ever returning to any form of normalcy. We should spend more time assessing exactly what effect this pandemic is going to have on the feasibility of achieving SDG 4. It is time that we moved past discussions about the logistics of school opening to the policies needed to address the pandemic’s long-term damage. At least four major implications for education come to mind.

Image: Stars Foundation

First, achievements in virtually all sectors of development will be reversed and even lost.  Maternal, child, and infant mortality; immunisation rates; food security; poverty; and school enrolment and completion rates will be affected.  Parents may no longer be able to afford to educate their children, and child labour may increase.  They may also decide to prolong home schooling in face of successive waves of Covid-19 or other pandemics, while students may decide themselves not to return to school after their extended break.

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Posted in access, Basic education, Early childhood care and education, Health, Inclusion, Quality of education, sdgs | 2 Comments

Alejandro Calleja: A father fighting for his son’s right to an inclusive education in Spain

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Alejandro is one of many champions being highlighted by the GEM Report in the run up to the launch of its 2020 publication on inclusion and education: All means all, due out 23 June. In their own way, and in multiple countries around the world, these champions are fighting for learner diversity to be celebrated, rather than ignored.

Alejandro Calleja has gone through all the levels of the judicial system in his fight to ensure the right to an inclusive education of his son Ruben, who was born with Down syndrome. For 8 years, Ruben attended regular school and, during this time, he was able to socialise and interact with his peers until a teacher demanded that he be removed from regular school and enrolled in a special school. The Calleja family believed the school’s decision was a violation of Ruben’s rights and began their fight to see them respected.

“Ruben has Down syndrome, but he also has rights and dignity. Inclusive education is not a favour, it is a right. Someone has to fight for it. We are fighting, for Rubén and for all children.”

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Posted in access, disability, Equality, Equity, Inclusion, legal rights, right to education | 1 Comment

Distance Learning Denied

Over 500 million of the world’s children and youth not accessing distance learning alternatives

By Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education

Most countries around the world have mandated school closures as part of public health measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since February 2020, school closures in 190 countries have caused widespread disruption of the education of 1.27 billion children and youth or some 95% of primary and secondary students worldwide. This situation is dramatically exacerbating inequalities in access to educational opportunity in multiple ways. Data shows that despite government efforts worldwide to provide alternative remote learning, at least 500 million children and youth are currently excluded from public educational provision.

While governments in four out of five countries with school closures have proposed national distance learning alternatives in efforts to ensure continuity of curriculum-based study and learning, other countries have not. Indeed, school closures in many other contexts have been implemented with no apparent national distance learning alternative to offset the interruption of learning. In these situations, the closures of physical schools amount to a temporary suspension of publicly provisioned education for some 45 million students.

Figure 1: Government-initiated distance learning solutions and intended reach

Source: UNESCO May 2020
Note: The diagram includes distance learning solutions initiated and endorsed by Ministries of Education and does not account for initiatives by private or other providers. It does not reference distance learning solutions reliant on print materials and which do not require information communication technologies.

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Posted in access, Equality, Inclusion, Learning | Tagged | 2 Comments

Daniela Galindo: working for inclusion in Colombia through communication tools

Daniela is one of many champions being highlighted by the GEM Report in the run up to the launch of its 2020 publication on inclusion and education: All means all, due out 23 June. In their own way, and in multiple countries around the world, these champions are fighting for learner diversity to be celebrated, rather than ignored.

At the age of 31, Daniela runs her own company “Hablando con Julis” (Talking to Julis), a company that uses communication and education software so that children, young people and adults with disabilities, who are illiterate and bilingual, can learn and communicate without difficulty.

Daniela grew up with her sister, Julis, who because of her disabilities could not speak or communicate with others. Using her engineering studies, Daniela created a programme that allows her sister to communicate, and thus have a future and be included in society. Today, Daniela and Julis work together sharing their programme and pedagogical model with governments, universities and private institutions, reaching 9,000 students in Latin America. Their goal is to expand to Europe and the United States.

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Posted in access, disability, Equality, Inclusion, Learning, Marginalization, technology | Leave a comment

Collecting essential education data during the Covid-19 crisis

By Silvia Montoya, Director, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), and Gustavo Arcia, Economist and UIS Consultant

Statistical institutes in low- and middle-income countries face significant pressures to collect education data under quarantine. This pressure reflects the need to mitigate the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which threaten the economic and social fabric, as documented by the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA), where all heads of statistical units of the United Nations System convene.

Given the difficulties imposed by the Covid-19 crisis, the basic questions for ministries of education, their agencies and statistical institutions are: (i) what data to collect, and (ii) how to collect it, to monitor learning equity.

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Posted in data, Equality, Equity, Inclusion, Learning, teaching | Tagged | 1 Comment