Equity in education post-2015: how do we get there?

By Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report

A good education has been voted the top priority in the UN’s online survey on what people want in a post-2015 world. But what does a “good education” mean? And how can we set goals that will give everyone a chance to obtain it? The Education for All Global Monitoring Report’s experience in assessing progress towards the Education for All goals since 2000 offers crucial lessons for the complex process of setting new goals, targets and indicators.

TABLE1-croppedIt helps that the post-2015 education goals and targets proposed so far have a lot in common. There is general agreement on the need for an overarching goal that is part of the broader global framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals, and that is clearly linked with a fuller post-2015 education framework. The majority of proposals suggest 2030 as a new deadline. While the education MDG is about reaching universal primary education, the new proposals stretch that ambition to lower secondary. There is broad consensus that a good education is not only of “good quality” but is also equitable – that is, available to all, regardless of their wealth, gender, ethnicity and other characteristics. Having co-convened the online post-2015 consultation related to equity, it’s encouraging to see the popularity of this theme.

Our new online hub for resources and other updates on education post-2015 gathers links to proposals from around the world.

Our new online hub for resources and other updates on education post-2015 gathers links to proposals from around the world.

Of the four proposals that spell out an overarching education goal, however, none have made equity explicit.  Most prefer to make it implicit: “all children (and youth)” is the phrase used by the Basic Education Coalition, Global Campaign for Education (US Chapter) and Save the Children. “Quality education for all” is proposed by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

Looking beyond the overarching goal to targets and indicators, GCE-US and the Basic Education Coalition call for data to be disaggregated (broken down to show the influence of factors such as poverty, gender and ethnicity). The Commonwealth Secretariat lists the disparities it recommends be eliminated for learning outcomes (household wealth, gender, special needs, location, age and social group), and suggests equity “should be captured in subordinate goals as appropriate”. The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) presents a specific equity target – “Disadvantaged girls and boys, including those with disabilities and from religious and ethnic minorities have equal access to effective learning in school” – and also calls for data to be disaggregated to allow monitoring.

BOX1-croppedAs you can see from the box on the left, all the EFA goals did include the language of equity (highlighted in blue), with the exception of goal 6 (education quality). So why, two years from the deadline, has that ambition still not been achieved? We must at least consider whether the language of equity is enough on its own to bring results.

Our World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) shows how stark inequalities in education access remain. Data from 2010 show that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, almost all the richest boys and girls in the capital city, Kinshasa, go to school. By contrast, in Katanga – a conflict-affected region – only 55% of poor females have the chance of an education. Global education’s unfinished business, in other words, concerns even this most basic of goals – getting every child into school.

Democratic Republic of the Congo, 7- to 16- years, never been to school, 2010

Democratic Republic of the Congo, 7- to 16-year-olds who have never been to school, 2010

One conclusion to draw from the limited progress in narrowing inequality gaps is that the MDGs – which have dominated development planning – should have incorporated equity as a core principle, as the EFA goals did. Another is that the lack of measurable equity targets, and of disaggregated data, has let down the poorest, girls, those with disabilities, and those in rural areas over the past decade.

BOX2-cropped

As we highlight in the box on the right, some of the current EFA goals contain measurable targets (green) while others did not, and/or had unclear definitions, making measuring progress difficult (red). Goals 1, 3 and 6 (on ECCE, skills and quality) did not define clear ways of measuring progress. This could help explain why progress towards those goals has been slower, and why 200 million young people today need a second chance at an education. This is also why quality and learning are rightly now taking centre stage in post-2015 debates.

Given that equity and measurability are key requirements, how do the post-2015 proposals fare when it comes to putting them together? Only three of the proposals provide clear ways of measuring equity, by focusing on the lowest 20%, or income quintile, and gender. Save the Children suggests several indicators to address inequality, including “ensuring all the poorest quintile can read with measurable understanding to ‘read to learn’ by end of year 3” and “narrowing the gap in literacy and numeracy learning outcomes achieved by aged 12 between the richest and poorest quintiles, and by gender”.

DFID presents a proposal for measuring the rate of progress of the bottom learning quintile to ensure it is at least as fast as the average rate of progress at a country level. The Commonwealth Secretariat proposes as an indicator the percentage of children from the bottom 20% of household income achieving a certain level in national learning assessments compared with those from the top 20% (but leaving vague whether a differential can persist). Results for Development, while not drafting any specific language of goals, also proposes that performance be measured using the top and bottom quintile.

What guiding messages should we give to the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda as they draft a framework for the coming decades?

It’s clear we need to make equity a central focus in both access to education and learning achievement. But it seems the education community hasn’t yet identified a route to get there. Based on the EFA Global Monitoring Report’s experience over the past 10 years, we can give three pieces of advice at this stage of the drafting process:

1. Be clear and simple

2. Be measurable

3. Put equity at the heart of any goal, target and indicator on educational access and learning.

This entry was posted in Basic education, Equity, Marginalization, Millennium Development Goals, Post-2015 development framework, Quality of education. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Equity in education post-2015: how do we get there?

  1. Eu sou Português e cidadão global este é o meu comentario os governos menos poderosos do planeta tem que ronper a burocracia e aprovar um plano de projectos de educação profissional para as suas comunidades esses projectos de educação profissional reduz a pobresa e a exclusão social e de ficarem todos a ganhar e humanidade global irá ficar horgulhosa

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  2. Very interesting, thought provoking article

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  3. MUNA NAMURA says:

    WHAT WE NEED ?
    IN PALESTINE THE GLOBAL CAMPAIGN OF EDUCATION HAS THE SLOGAN-THE TEACHER DESERVES- THAT IS ALSO A TEACHER FOR EVERY CHILD. THE HIGH RESPECT AND
    WELL PAID QUALIFIED TEACHERS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT
    GENDER -EQUITY ARE ALSO WHAT WE NEED
    BUT
    WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY
    I REALLY BELIEVE THE TEACHER SHOULD HAVE STRONG FAITH IN HIS JOB
    THIS IS WHAT I THINK THINGS SHOULD BE

    MUNA NAMURA
    PALESTINE
    GUPW@PALNET.COM
    GENERAL UNION OF PALESTINIAN WOMEN
    MONA_NAMORA@YAHOO.COM

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  4. Pingback: In 2013, let’s keep our education promises – and get ready to make some more | Post2015.org - what comes after the MDGs?

  5. The explicit commitment to ensure that people with disabilities are fully included in the post- 2015 MDGs makes it essential to collect data which enable governments to be held accountable not just to the UN monitoring bodies but to their own populations who are increasingly being empowered by the internet to mobilise public opinion through the internet (eg http://www.avaaz.org).
    We have known for a long time that fewer than 5 per cent of girls and boys with disabilities are in primary schools in middle and low income countries and that UNESCO has estimated that they now account for one third of the 61 million children still not attending school. But we also know from pilot projects in some of these countries that inclusive education is possible when there is political will, local leadership and planned support for teachers, parents and pupils.
    The EFA GMR draft document on the post 2015 MDGs includes a useful template for the collection of comprehensive data on the education of girls. We now need data which are disaggregated for disability, as well as gender, ethnicity, location and poverty, so that the interaction between them can become clear, as it has for gender. Some countries have provided estimates of the number of children who are ‘not expected ever to attend school’ but how many of these are children with disabilities whose rights to education are now upheld in international law?
    Basic data on disabled children and youth now need to be included in the national household surveys being recommended by the UN and also being developed by UNICEF and the OECD. Each country needs to provide disaggregated data on numbers and percentages of disabled children who are in or out of school. These can form a baseline for the setting of year on year targets for their inclusion between 2015 and 2030. We also need data on measurable outcomes relevant to children with disabilities, including educational and other achievements to mid-secondary level and beyond, as well as drop- out rates and grade repetition.
    Beyond this, there needs to be evidence of plans to provide access to school buildings and curriculum and a national programme to train and support teachers and health and community professionals across the board to meet the wider needs of children and youth with disabilities and their families.
    Much of this is required by the reporting mechanisms of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/CRPDIndex.aspx) but these could now be harmonised with the emerging MDG indicators to provide a powerful advocacy tool to the people most affected, as well as to the civil society to which they belong and from which they have been excluded until now.

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  6. Pingback: Our proposed post-2015 education goals emphasize equity, measurability and finance | World Education Blog

  7. Pingback: Enrolled but not educated: Can we deliver universal high quality education? | Education in development

  8. Pingback: Post-2015: If we don’t tackle educational inequality, we’ll fail the fairness test | World Education Blog

  9. Pingback: Post 2015: The UN General Assembly has told us what, now we need to define how | World Education Blog

  10. Pingback: Why we need a global education framework after 2015 | World Education Blog

  11. ROLANDA KONDEH says:

    I THINK EVERY CHILD HAS THE RIGHT TO BE EDUCATED.IN AFRICAN SETTINGS,YOUNG WERE NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO SCHOOL,EVEN IF YOU HAD THE BRAIN AND WAS DETERMINED.BUT THANK GOD NOW,THAT SYSTEM IS FADING AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  12. Pingback: Why we need a global education framework after 2015 |

  13. Pingback: Have we kept our 2013 education promises? Top 10 blogs say yes! | World Education Blog

  14. THE GLOBAL EDUCATION FRAMEWORK IS VERY IMPORTANT AS IT WILL EMPOWER LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES. IT CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED IF THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE ASSIGNED TO BE IN CHARGE OF THE EXECUTION OF THE PROJECT.
    IN 2013 EFFORTS WERE MADE BUT IT DID NOT GET TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE. A WATER TIGHT MONITORING SHOULD BE ORGANIZED TO AVOID HIGH JACKING AND FRUSTRATION OF THE WHOLE IDEA.

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  15. Equity is what you need, what you get. The reason that we have to give education to all since we all need it. In our current time, crab mentality is what greatly occurs. People tend to pull down another just to lift himself up, but then again have we asked ourselves if do you think maybe helping another on the other hand may give us greater heights?

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  16. Dawn Booth says:

    Dear Sirs

    I am seeking permission on behalf of Illuminate Publishing to use a table on your blog titled ‘Proposed post-2015 global education goals’.

    We are publishing an A Level student textbook entitled: WJEC Sociology Year 2  by Janis Griffiths and John McIntosh, in August/September 2016.  We are looking for a 5 year licence and  we only require UK English Language rights.  The print run will be 3,000 and a few hundred licences will be sold to schools for the e-book.

    This book is for educational use only.

    Thank you very much for your assistance.

    Best wishes
    Dawn

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    • Kate Redman says:

      Dear Dawn,
      We would be delighted if you ran this, with the appropriate credit to the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.

      Many thanks for your interest in our work

      kate

      Like

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