This blog introduces a new series that will look at the framing and measurement of inequalities in post-2015 education targets. The series aims to elaborate an equity perspective in the future monitoring of education by examining issues related to disability, gender, poverty status, household wealth, residence, health and social mobility.
Social exclusion and the unfair distribution of the benefits of development and public services have become a serious concern for the international development community as it prepares to adopt a new agenda post-2015. In the field of education, despite notable progress in some areas, there continue to be sharp inequalities by poverty status, household location, gender, disability and ethnicity, with many marginalized groups remaining invisible to governmental officials and development planners. Scarce economic resources, the lack of ‘voice’ and power imbalances exacerbate the sense of social injustice among millions. In this context, equity has become an important guiding theme of the current proposal of the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development as well as in the formulation of the education goal.
An equity perspective has been, and will continue to be, an overriding concern in the EFA Global Monitoring Report. Assessing progress in global education goals based solely on changes in national averages clearly fails to account for the discrimination and exclusionary practices faced by many marginalized groups, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
Creating robust equity-oriented indicators
Although the principle of equity has gained traction in development circles, there is considerable work to be done in creating robust equity-oriented indicators of education priorities, which allow for monitoring national progress over time. Several key questions need to be addressed:
- How should the monitoring of educational goals track inequalities in education participation and learning outcomes within and between countries, between schools and across different socio-demographic groups?
- What are the limitations of existing data sources and what can be done to improve them?
- How can we ensure that our measures of education inequality capture not only those in the education system but also those outside it?
- How can we capture not only inequalities observed in children, youth and adults but also those structural inequalities engrained in education systems?
- Since summary measures of inequality are yet to be routinely used in education, what indicators would be both robust and easy to communicate to the broader community?
Outcomes of the equity workshop
On 1-2 December 2014, the EFA Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics convened a workshop that brought together leading experts in the social sciences of education as well as development professionals from governmental and non-governmental agencies. They considered new monitoring strategies and new forms of collaboration in order to address these post-2015 monitoring challenges in education and sustainable development. Participants at the workshop specifically discussed insights from current research, more and less conventional indicators as well as recommendations for the measurement of inequalities in post-2015 education targets.
The workshop also looked at the importance of communicating equity-based indicators that are both rigorous yet simple for multiple stakeholders to understand and implement. Participants underscored the importance of developing equity-oriented measures of post 2015 education targets that maintain high standards of scientific rigor, while also informing the views of policy makers, media outlets, teachers and non-specialists.
Based partly on discussions emerging from the workshop, this blog series will consider the challenges facing the international community in measuring and monitoring inequalities in education, proposals to reduce them, and ways to ensure that equity concerns are understood by broad audiences involved in policy-making, financing and implementation.
Read all the blogs in this series so far:
Monitoring progress in education among individuals with disabilities