Is it too much to ask for free quality education for all?

By Antonia Wulff, coordinator at Education International

Education is an inalienable human right – but across the world this right is being undermined by the impacts of inequality, a lack of political commitment and inadequate investment in education. We need to give education its rightful place at the heart of international efforts to improve people’s lives – and current discussions on a new global development framework offer a chance to do so.

Education International (EI) – which represents 30 million teachers and education employees worldwide – welcomes the recognition by the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda of education as a priority in its own right as well as a necessity for reaching other goals. The inclusion of pre-primary and vocational education as well as universal access to lower-secondary education signals a clear ambition to go beyond the MDG framework. However, EI is concerned about the suggested targets being focused on learning outcomes, notably reading, writing and counting, as well as skills for work, and the narrow approach to quality education that these reflect.

The GMR's online hub for resources and other updates on education post-2015 gathers links to proposals from around the world.

The GMR’s online hub for resources and other updates on education post-2015 gathers links to proposals from around the world.

Drawing on its knowledge of the experiences of educators, and of the challenges faced in classrooms every day, EI is focusing on three interlinked areas of education where a renewed commitment from governments and the international community is desperately needed.

First, the full achievement of the right to education implies equity. Unequal educational outcomes often reflect deeper inequalities in society that governments and international organizations must address to ensure quality education. The post-2015 framework must overcome all forms of discrimination, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, with particular attention to gender.

Second, equity in education requires equitable participation in quality education. A new framework must go beyond access and beyond an education that narrowly focuses on “the basics” of literacy and numeracy. Our understanding of quality education encompasses all the elements of the education process, including broad-based curricula, formative assessment, adequate teaching and learning materials, and reasonable class sizes. Every student has the right to be taught by a qualified and well-supported teacher, and learn in safe schools with adequate infrastructure, facilities and resources.

Third, the right to education will not be achieved unless there is a political will and commitment to ensure sufficient funding and resources. Being a public good and a basic right, education must be publicly financed to ensure equitable access to quality education. The financing of education must be progressive and pro-poor. It is worrying that the High-level Panel chooses to remain silent on the issues of free and public education, and the role of the state in ensuring education for all.

Quality education provides people with the knowledge, abilities and skills needed to solve problems locally and globally, and actively contributes to the sustainable and democratic development of society. Quality education has long-term benefits for employment and decent work, citizenship and personal development, and is fundamental to the achievement of all other development goals, including gender equality, health, nutrition and sustainable development.

If the global community is serious about achieving real progress, governments must ensure the right to free, quality education for all.

Education International’s proposed post-2015 goal: “Ensure universal free quality education”

Target 1: By 2030, every child completes a full cycle of continuous, free quality early childhood, primary, lower and upper secondary education, which enables them to achieve their potential as human beings and to contribute positively as active members of society. 

Target 2: By 2030, all young people and adults have equitable access to quality post-secondary education and lifelong learning, enabling them to acquire knowledge, skills and competences to achieve their full potential and participate positively in society and in the world of work.  

Indicators:

  • Percentage of children and young people  who participate and complete early childhood, primary, lower and upper secondary education to the appropriate national standards, disaggregated by  socio-economic status, location, gender, special needs, age and social group, among others;
  • Percentage of children and young people who demonstrate learning achievement broadly- defined and determined through multiple measures and consistent with national standards, disaggregated by socio-economic status, location, gender, special needs, age, social group, among others;
  • Percentage of educational institutions that are publicly financed, do not charge fees and are not for profit;
  • Percentage of educational institutions that have safe and adequate infrastructure, facilities, resources and learning materials for all students according to national norms;
  • Breadth of curriculum, including an assessment of its contribution to active citizenship, life skills, sustainable development, health, employment etc.
  • Percentage of children and young people taught by qualified teachers with a reasonable student to qualified teacher ratio;
  • Percentage of educational institutions that have adequate professional and student support, including teaching assistance, medical and psychological services;
  • Breadth of curriculum, including an assessment of its contribution to active citizenship, life skills, sustainable development, health, employment etc.
This entry was posted in Basic education, Developing countries, Equity, Human rights, Learning, Millennium Development Goals, Post-2015 development framework, Primary school, Secondary school, Skills, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Is it too much to ask for free quality education for all?

  1. Anup Aryal says:

    Education is the key for successfully lifting billions out of poverty. However, the advancements in technology which often has gone hand in hand with advancement in educational revolution has yet to reach so many globally. Whether it is lack of electricity, lack of computers, lack of internet access or any other resource constraints, some parts of the world has not benefited from global collaboration, readily available quality content and the passion of well-organized educators who want to see the all children of the world thrive. Which is why OpenCurriculum was created. An online platform to create, access and share K-12 learning material with a robust printing capabilities so the communities without technical resources could still print the necessary learning material and distribute to improve education. Please check out our efforts at http://www.theopencurriculum.org and find out how you can use this platform for free (up to 2GB storage) and improve the educational content through collaboration, organization, and discoverability of host of learning material from all over the world. Join us in the movement to make education more democratic, open, and exciting.

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  2. If UN in her capcity as world community driven initiative to declare total state of emmergency withing the added period and monitor its implementation. I thing withing the period of this, the world will realise of equity to successes. Nigeria for one has to lour into the implementation of conventional education into the almajiri system or else must of them will not go to school having said that “ western eduction“ which was brainwashed instead. Although it is not easy as i am texing these mail, becouse must of the propraitors are illitrate and consider pollution of the system or miss the children once they are educated. How i wish one of you will visit to see our impute on inclusive education in kaduna state.

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  3. AlanT says:

    I like the EI goals for post 2015, and whilst I am absolutely in agreement with the refusal to see a rich quality of education reduced merely to counting, reading and writing I do believe we must also insist that the right to literacy is the right to full participation in society. So I would add a third goal
    Eradicate adult illiteracy by 2030, and one more indicator for adult participation
    Percentage of adults who have participated in formal, non-formal or informal learning, measured by household survey – the most effective way of overcoming the complexity of data gathering for lifelong learning
    Alan Tuckett, President International Council for Adult Learning

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  4. moon202 says:

    I like the EI goals for post 2015
    the right to literacy is the right to full participation in society. So I would add a third goal

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  5. adjei17 says:

    A good education could solve Many problems.

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  6. vastava says:

    education is the only solution for poverty

    Like

  7. Cristina says:

    There is no such thing as free education. Nothing is free in this world, somebody always pays for it! National standards in education? What national standards? And with what authority? Tyranny much?

    Like

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