Countries must urgently protect the right to education of migrants and refugees in the Arab States

Yasmina*, 10 years old - Hamam Al Alil CampThe first regional edition of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report published by UNESCO was launched this morning at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). The Arab States Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls Report analyses the impact of these population movements on education systems in the region and presents a series of urgent recommendations to protect the education rights of those on the move.

The Arab States is the region most affected by displacement, which has slowed down its education progress relative to the rest of the world.  The gap between the Arab States and sub-Saharan Africa in those enrolling in primary education has more than halved in the past 20 years, for instance. Over the same period, Central and Southern Asia has overtaken the Arab States in enrolment rates at the lower secondary level and the gap is rapidly closing at the upper secondary level too.

There is no doubt that these countries are facing a unique challenge due to these population flows. Regardless, displaced children and youth do not leave their right to an education behind. Policy makers must put themselves in their shoes. Expecting refugees to travel with school certificates is unrealistic, for instance. They must ensure their policies fairly reflect displaced persons’ needs. Continue reading

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Linking data to get results: India shows how countries can use their national assessments for global reporting

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and Professor Hrushikesh Senapaty, Director, National Council of Educational Research and Training of India (NCERT)

The international reporting of learning outcomes is a critical but complex undertaking at the global, regional and country levels. Yet in just a few years, we have made remarkable progress in resolving measurement challenges associated with SDG Indicator 4.1.1: “proportion of children and young people: (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex.”

This is why the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) recently decided to upgrade 4.1.1. to a tier 1 indicator: the Group recognized that the indicator is “conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant”.

This upgrade was no easy feat. Just a year ago, we went through the first phase of the process, by presenting a new methodology and standards. This involved painstaking negotiations with countries and just about every cross-national assessment initiative in order to build consensus around a set of global minimum proficiency levels.

Continue reading

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Educating for the social, the emotional and the sustainable

By Andy Smart, Margaret Sinclair, Aaron Benavot, Jean Bernard, Colette Chabbott, S. Garnett Russell and James Williams

Earlier this year, the UN Secretary-General reported that “the shift in development pathways to generate the transformation required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030 is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required.” He noted with regret that “…the most vulnerable countries are bearing the brunt of the current obstacles to SDG implementation…. The bleak situation of countries in situations of conflict or fragility is all the more troubling given that, by 2030, more than half the world’s poor are projected to live in countries affected by conflict.” This blog looks at a new publication by NISSEM on the challenges facing poorly resourced or conflict-affected countries in addressing SDG Target 4.7. It argues that addressing this target can help change long-term behaviour to help achieve the SDGs.

Why Target 4.7?

4.7Among the SDG 4 targets, 4.7 is unique for driving social, economic, political and environmental change since it highlights transformative values and principles. It reflects country commitments to education for sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

The global indicator for Target 4.7 calls for its themes to be mainstreamed in educational policies, curricula, teacher training, learning assessments, and ultimately in classroom teaching and learning. Social and emotional learning (SEL), sometimes called “soft skills” or “non-cognitive skills” is vital. When instructional materials include these skills in contextually meaningful ways, students are more likely to learn how to empathize, collaborate and negotiate – and build humane, just and environmentally-sound societies, as envisioned by the SDGs.

Despite the formidable monitoring challenges related to the target, countries need to find ways to embed these themes in policies and curricula – including textbooks – and prepare teachers. Continue reading

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What teacher shortage? It’s not just the scale but the nature of the challenge

By Colin Bangay, Senior Education Adviser, DFID Sierra Leone

Most would agree that good teachers make all the difference. As recent research attests, ‘the most effective interventions to improve student learning rely on teachers’. The imperative to bring the magnitude of teacher shortages to global attention is clear.  However, there is a danger in aggregating projections to generate headlines such as ‘69 million teachers must be recruited by 2030 in order to meet SDG 4’. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics, which produced these projections in 2016, no longer undertakes such exercises, recognizing they can be misleading. However, the figures retain currency, most recently being cited in the recent report released by the Education Commission, Transforming the Education Workforce. Ultimately, whether at global or national level, reducing teacher need to a single figure masks important nuances within the numbers.

Effective labour force planning is dependent on knowing not just how many teachers you need, but what kind and where they are needed. Globally, many countries struggle to produce enough secondary mathematics, science and language teachers; while across Africa there are the additional challenges of needing more female teachers and getting teachers to serve in rural areas. Without disaggregated evidence on the nature and not just the scale of teacher shortage, there is a danger that scarce funding will be spent on producing more teachers – but of the wrong kind. Continue reading

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What role do foundations play in education?

How much are foundations investing in education and where? Who are the main beneficiaries and what difference are they making in education? These are just three of the questions that the GEM Report and the OECD Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD) put to a room of philanthropists, government representatives, civil society partners and academics at a streamed event in Paris last week.

Motivated by the release of netFWD’s Policy Note on Education and Philanthropy Quality Education for All: Lessons and Future Priorities, the event discussed new OECD data on philanthropic giving to education. It also started the debate and analysis in advance of the 2021 GEM Report on the role and impact of non-state actors in education, among them philanthropic institutions, from the perspective of equity, accountability, neutrality, effectiveness and efficiency.

With an average of USD 693 million per year, education was the second most supported sector by foundations between 2013 and 2015, after health. This made philanthropic flows comparable to the bilateral official development assistance of the United Kingdom and Japan during the same period. How can foundations’ investments help fulfil the promise of quality education for all?

data1 Continue reading

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The kids are not completing

Why completion rates should be part of the SDG global indicator framework

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

The clock is ticking, with just over a decade to ensure that every child, adolescent and youth completes primary and secondary education of quality.

The good news is that the global primary completion rate has been steadily rising from 70% in 2000 to an estimated 84% in 2018. If current trends continue, the rate will reach 89% by 2030, according to recent projections by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR), and 93% allowing for those who are going to complete primary school very late. By accelerating this rate of growth, we can still achieve universal primary completion by 2030.

Figure 1. Upper secondary completion rates, 2000-2018, and projections to 2030


Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for secondary education (see Figure 1). Without a major transformation in education, only six in ten young people will be completing secondary school in 2030.

While our projections sent a shockwave throughout the international community, we must keep up the pressure by regularly reporting on education completion at the global, regional and country levels.

This is why the UIS, as custodian agency for SDG 4 data, has proposed that the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) include completion rates within the global monitoring framework with the aim of offering a more informed view of progress towards target 4.1. This proposal was based on consultation with the Technical Cooperation Group on the Indicator for SDG 4 (TCG) in 2017.

There are several reasons for the proposal. By raising the profile of the indicator, we can highlight the urgency for action across the UN system. For example, as a global monitoring indicator, completion rates would be included in the annual SDG progress reports. Accordingly, the recent meeting of the TCG in Yerevan, Armenia, endorsed the completion rate as one of the indicators for which to define reference points for progress at the global and regional level.

The Technical Cooperation Group has also requested available data to be used more efficiently to calculate the completion rate. This will build on the lessons learned from other flagship indicators that rely on multiple sources, such as child mortality rates.

Critically, we can combine the completion rate with learning outcome indicators to offer a more comprehensive and accurate perspective on progress towards target 4.1, as shown in a new UIS paper. Continue reading

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Mapping girls’ right to an education

By Rolla Moumne, UNESCO Education Sector

UNESCO’s Her Education Rights Atlas (HER Atlas) is designed to measure the degree of protection of girls’ and women’s education rights in national legal frameworks. Her Atlas was launched at the G7 France/UNESCO international conference on girls’ education in July and is part of UNESCO’s ‘Her education, our future’ Initiative. We feature some of its findings today on International Day of the Girl Child. The Atlas provides the latest information on the status of girls’ and women’s right to education in countries’ constitutions, legislation and regulations, serving as a strong monitoring and advocacy tool.

More than 70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to education is still not realized for many girls and women worldwide.

Finding 1: Only 44% of all States enshrine the right to education within their constitution without discrimination based on sex or gender

day of the girl blogDespite numerous reaffirmations by the international community of its strong commitment to achieve gender equality in education and the considerable progress in recent decades, poverty, pregnancy, early marriage, gender-based violence and traditional attitudes are among the many obstacles that stand in the way of girls and women fully exercising their right to participate in, complete and benefit from education. Continue reading

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