The mandate of our report, known since Dakar as the EFA Global Monitoring Report (EFA GMR), has been formally prolonged. This mandate and our new name, the Global Education Monitoring Report, has been cemented in the Incheon Declaration adopted at the World Education Forum (WEF):
“…We request that the EFA GMR be continued as an independent Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR), hosted and published by UNESCO, as the mechanism for monitoring and reporting on the proposed SDG 4 and on education in the other proposed SDGs, within the mechanism to be established to monitor and review the implementation of the proposed SDGs.” [paragraph 18]
Building on the reputation the EFA GMR has built since 2002, the new Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) series will continue to strive to be a comprehensive, authoritative and evidence-based report on education progress 2015-2030. It will take the charge on monitoring country progress on the proposed Sustainable Development Goal on education, its 10 targets and education related targets in other SDGs. It will continue to react to emerging issues and challenges that might affect progress towards these targets, just as the EFA GMR did in its 2011 report on conflict, its 2012 report on youth skills and unemployment, and its 2013/4 report on teaching and learning.
As outlined during a special session at the WEF, ‘Global and regional coordination and monitoring mechanisms’, the new mandate presents several challenges to the GEM Report. It will need to monitor a much broader set of international targets than before, including covering formal and non-formal education, developed and developing countries, and state and non-state provision. It must do this at the same time as continuing to report back on the progress of the EFA agenda until the 2015 data is released.
The GEM Report will also need to help define new international yardsticks, if possible, for each education target, including those that are not easily measurable. The current GMR team is already working on this task, sitting on the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which presented its second proposal for a set of indicators to monitor new targets at this week’s WEF. Part and parcel of this will be the necessity to research and refer to new measurement metrics and monitoring tools undertaken by countries, regions and international agencies.
Knowing how to measure targets means having a common understanding of what we are to measure. This will require the Report to clarify complex concepts currently in the goal and targets so that definitions and parameters for success are clear from the start. The difficulties of defining the meaning of ‘skills’ in the EFA goal 3, for instance, held back progress. Where possible, the GEM Report must attempt to clarify similarly vague definitions appearing in SDG 4 targets.
The Report will also endeavor to emphasize the importance of collaboration within and between sectors and how education serves as an indispensible basis for achieving the other SDG goals. One clear lesson we have learned from the MDGs is that we will not eradicate extreme poverty without better inter-linkages between sectors. Only if we can better connect and coordinate between agencies, sectors and ministries will we achieve sustainable development for all. Perhaps more importantly, only if education is recognized for the central role it plays within these processes, will we achieve our global aims by 2030. The GEMR, as the central monitoring function for our sector for the next fifteen years, must take the reins in setting up this understanding.
The GEM Report will be of little use if it sits on shelves and is never read. For more universal and cross-sector relevance, the report will need to renew its analysis and reporting of global education issues in ways that appeal to wider constituencies. We will need to make sure the evidence-based findings in our report feed into policy decisions, and help guide progress towards our SDG 4 ambitions. And this will require not only keeping the report relevant, and informative, but also developing new and innovative ways to ensure its key findings make it to those who matter.
Despite these many challenges, we will produce the first report on the education SDG next year because we understand that a delay in developing a new monitoring framework would have dreadful consequences. It is crucial that we begin the path of monitoring progress and contributing to government discussions of how best to achieve the ambitious promises laid out in the SDG agenda.
We hope that we can draw upon your support in helping the GEMR to transition to its new brand and in cementing the new framework for Education-2030. We are a small team, but working with all of you, we know our evidence-based findings can go far in helping guide and even speed up progress towards our common objectives.