One more week until the application deadline for the GEM Report Fellowship

fellowship blogThe deadline for proposals to become the first GEM Report Fellows is next Friday, 28 September. The expected start to the fellowship is January 2019.

The new Fellowship programme, supported by the Open Society Foundations, aims to strengthen the evidence base on education build research capacity, and reinforce the links between research, policy, and practice in education.

Fellowships will typically support fellows to conduct their research for one year, of which at least one month would be spent at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.  Continue reading

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Is global education data heading toward fragmentation?

A month ago, an article in Devex described the risk of fragmentation posed by the explosion of new international education financing mechanisms– especially as the pool of funding remains constant. Yet, the risk of fragmentation does not seem to apply just to funding mechanisms. A lack of cooperation is becoming increasingly apparent also in the production of international education data.

oos dataIn February, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the custodian agency for most of the indicators on international education targets, announced that 263 million children and youth were out of school in 2016. With the international community expecting the release of the new data for 2017 a week from now, according to the improved schedule that UIS recently agreed with countries, UNICEF has today released a ‘media report’, which claims there are 303 million children and youth out of school, or 40 million more than previously estimated.

Has there been a sudden emergency or crisis, some might ask? No. This new calculation simply involves the inclusion of children age 5, which is not how the international community has agreed to estimate the global out-of-school population. The crisis is just a UNICEF marketing gimmick. Continue reading

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Fighting gang violence in El Salvador by empowering young minds

By:  IBREA Foundation

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Credit: @ibreafoundation, IBREA Foundation

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed,” wrote the poet Archibald MacLeish for the preamble of UNESCO’s constitution in 1945. Having experienced two world wars in less than a generation, its member states knew well that political agreements alone are not enough to build a lasting peace. For peace to be truly established, we must forge a moral and intellectual unity in our thinking toward each other, which is where education comes in.

In El Salvador, a country of 6.5 million, its Defense Ministry estimates that more than 500,000 – or 13% – of Salvadorans are involved with gangs, including relatives and children of gang members who have been forced to participate in crimes. Wars between MS-13, the country’s largest gang, and its chief rival, Barrio 18, have aggravated what is the world’s highest homicide rate for people under the age of 19. In 2016, 540 Salvadoran children were killed, an average of 1.5 every day. These conditions leave them with few options but to flee their country. In fiscal year 2016 alone, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended a record 17,512 unaccompanied Salvadoran minors. Continue reading

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Free education for all in Sierra Leone? Can it happen?

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Image: UNESCO/Kate Holt

In late August, Sierra Leone’s newly elected President Julius Madaa Bio, announced a five year initiative to roll out free pre-primary, primary and secondary education on 17 September. The new policy is intended to guarantee free school places for one and a half million children, as well as training for thousands of teachers, and free textbooks for all.

Mr. Madaa Bio campaigned hard on the promise of free education in the build-up to the election, which might have helped seal his victory. Across Sub-Saharan Africa many electoral platforms have been built around the pledge. A study of African elections and education policies noted 16 instances of user-fee abolition in sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 2007, for instance: 11 countries were found to have abolished school fees immediately after elections, and in 8 of those instances, a new national leader had been elected.

Yet, electoral promises are one thing, delivering is another. In our 2015 report, we noted that many countries in the region had failed in fully carrying through school fee abolition since 2000, often due to inadequate financing.    Continue reading

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#EducationOnTheMove campaign – meet Richard

richard on the move banner

It’s back to school month in many countries around the world. Pencils, bags and reading lists are being compiled by some children, but not by all.

Meet Richard, an asylum seeker from Chad. Aged 21 years, he left Chad after finishing one year of university studies and travelled land and seas to get to France. He is one of the lucky ones in some respects, being one of 41 among the 171 on his boat to make it alive to the other side. Finally on safe ground, he now wants to continue his studies. The problem is that, while he can enroll in a university, until his refugee status comes through, he will only be a guest student; no residence status means no diploma. Continue reading

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Hungarian university suspends education programmes for refugees and asylum seekers

hungary 2Two weeks ago the Central European University (CEU) announced it was being forced to suspend its education programmes for refugees and asylum seekers because of new tax legislation that came into effect on August 24. The law implies a 25% levy on “all programmes, actions and activities which directly or indirectly aim to promote immigration” including anything “showing immigration in a positive light.”

At present counting, around 55 refugees and asylum seekers will be affected by this change.

The University also had to suspend, with immediate effect from August 24, the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve), and the administration of its European Union-funded Marie Curie Research Grant on migration policy in Central and Southern Europe.

The opinions of those at the University having to make this move still come through their diplomatically phrased statement: “CEU takes this opportunity to emphasize, once again, that the OLIve programs have provided educational training only for persons legally admitted to Hungary. We are proud of this work and of our research on refugee and migration issues in Europe and will seek all possible ways to continue this work in the future.” Continue reading

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100 million young people are still illiterate

ild2018-gif-enThis International Literacy Day there’s plenty to celebrate – the number of young people aged 15-24 with no literacy skills worldwide has fallen by 27% since 2000, a fact we hope to see reflected in plummeting adult literacy rates over time too. But this still leaves 100 million youth unable to read. How did so many get left-behind?

Levels of illiteracy are disproportionately high in Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting one in four young people. This is not only down to poor teaching, low school attendance, poverty or conflict, but also has a lot to do with a policy shared by most countries in the region: to teach children to read in official languages – English, French or Portuguese, rather than in the language they speak at home. It was estimated in 2000 that 87% of children were taught to read in languages they didn’t speak at home. For many children, the language of instruction at school is their third or fourth language.

In our 2017/8 GEM Report, we observed this impact of language policy on literacy. Our analysis showed that, in 36 countries in the region, 69% of adults whose five years of education were in systems privileging home languages could read a sentence, compared with 41% in colonial or mixed language systems. In Côte d’Ivoire, 55% of grade 5 students who spoke French at home learned the basics in reading, compared with only 25% of the students who spoke another language at home. Continue reading

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