By Pauline Rose, director of the Education for all Global Monitoring Report
The Arab Spring, South Sudan’s long-awaited independence and the world’s 7 billionth baby featured in our top 10 blog posts for 2011, which highlighted key messages of the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education, as well as crucial questions that we will explore in our 2012 Report on youth, skills and work.
Top of the list of most-read posts is an investigation by former GMR director Kevin Watkins of how a chronic mismatch between education systems and labour markets helped to fuel discontent among young people who took to the streets in Arab countries [1. Education failures fan the flames in the Arab world].
Young people have been in the spotlight right around the world in 2011. As unemployment has soared, their disaffection with political leaders’ failure to address their hopes and aspirations has led to protests globally. As we will be showing in our 2012 Report, there is an urgent need to pay attention to the skills that young people need to realise their potential [6. When we talk about youth, we need to talk about skills].
Other top 10 blogs highlight the hidden crisis in countries where education progress has been held back by conflict, including two of those most seriously off-track for achieving the Education for All goals [3. Pakistan declares ‘education emergency’; 4. Southern Sudanese pin their hopes on education].
South Sudan’s independence this year provides an opportunity for realising the hopes of its citizens through education, including for those returning after living in refugee camps for many years. Lessons might be learnt from the post-conflict experiences of Cambodia and Ethiopia, where a combination of political will and support from aid donors has helped to develop strong education systems [8. Education bounces back in Cambodia and Ethiopia].
Those displaced by conflict are often denied the chance of education because short-term humanitarian support fails to recognize the needs and desires of those living “emergency” situations that in fact go on for many years. With just 2% of humanitarian aid spent on education, it is time for aid agencies to recognize that education is a priority in these situations [2. Education doesn’t save lives, so why should we care?].
As I witnessed during a visit this year, this dire situation is all too evident in the sprawling camps in Dadaab, Kenya – the world’s biggest refugee complex – where only half of the children have access to a basic education [9. For refugees in Kenya, ‘education is the only thing that we can take home’]. If the world is to achieve peace and security, the rights of children in conflict zones need to be recognized. In the words of Queen Rania of Jordan, “education is our saving grace, our best chance, and our one shot to bring security and development to all humanity” [10. Education for security and development].
In 2011, the world’s seven billionth baby was born. As we said in our greeting card, it is vital to uphold the right to education of the coming generation [5. Letter to the 7 billionth human being]. This right is important not only for its own sake but also because it ensures other Millennium Development Goals, including reducing poverty, are achieved [7. How to reduce poverty’s impact on education]. It is crucial that we continue to work together in 2012 to ensure education’s rightful place at the centre of the global development agenda.
The GMR team is extremely grateful to all our readers for your engagement, comments and feedback. We look forward to continued collaboration in 2012 to make Education for All a reality. We wish you a very enjoyable festive season and happy New Year!