Building resilience and shaping futures: the UNRWA response to the education needs of Palestine refugees from Syria

By Caroline Pontefract, Director of Education, UNRWA/UNESCO Education Programme

21Over the past 65 years, the UNRWA/UNESCO education programme has been providing quality and equitable learning opportunities for refugees, and is currently supporting 500,000 refugees in the Middle East despite the myriad crises the region has endured. In doing so, the programme has built, what the World Bank has described as “education resilience in four generations of refugees.”

Despite this experience, the onset of the Syria crisis brought new challenges for UNRWA: the challenge of continuing to ensure quality, relevant education for the Palestine refugee children from Syria; not just those internally displaced, but also to those forced to flee to Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza. Wherever they were the UNRWA students were in need of special support, to ensure that they could continue to access quality education, and help them to deal with the upheaval in their lives and the fear and the trauma that the crisis had brought.    Continue reading

Posted in Arab States, Conflict, Disaster preparedness, emergencies, Out-of-school children, refugees, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Refugees are more than just numbers

salamBy Salam Al-Nukta, youth Advisor to the GEM Report.

In a world where war is constantly taking place, violence and human rights violation force hundreds of families to flee their countries everyday leaving behind wounded memories, beloved ones and broken lives.

In honor to millions of these people, the United Nations General Assembly has decided to bring world leaders’ attention on every 20th of June in every year to urge them to stand in solidarity #WithRefugees.

Very often we see the media doing a great job covering the negative impact of refugees on host communities. In a result, the world now points at them as the problem rather than victims of a battle they didn’t choose to be a part of.

In Syria, where I live, crisis has left behind huge destruction. Thinking about Syria conjures up pictures of wounded people, wrecked houses and poor refugees scattered and lost in camps. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

No child should have to pay the cost of war

By Malala Yousafzai, Student, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Co-Founder of the Malala Fund

1No child should have to pay the cost of war, to be kept away from the classroom because of conflict. Yet whole generations of refugee children from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine and South Sudan have had to leave their homes and schools. But they do not leave their dreams of a better future for themselves and their countries, a future only possible through education.

It is unacceptable that just half of refugee children have access to primary education and one quarter have access to secondary education. It is unacceptable that girls are nearly always the first to miss out. Education is every child’s basic human right. Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, emergencies, Out-of-school children, refugees, Refugees and displaced people, Uncategorized, violence | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

How to include all in monitoring the global goal in education SDG4?

By Aaron Benavot, Director of the GEM Report

It’s tough to cover this issue in a blog. It’s something we cover extensively in the next GEM Report due out on September 6th. But it’s also something I presented on today at the Oslo Education Week Conference, alongside Silvia Montoya from UNESCOs Institute for Statistics, Justin Van Fleet from the International Commission to Finance Education Report and Jo Bourne from UNICEF.

What do we know? The GEM Report has done much work to help expose the extent of the challenges faced by the marginalized. We have shown that…

  1. the poorest are four times more likely to be out of school and five times more likely not to complete primary education than the richest.
  2. the proportion of out of school children in conflict affected countries has grown since 2000.
  3. nearly two thirds of adults with minimal literacy skills are women.
  4. 40% of the global population do not receive education in a language they speak or understand
  5. refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non refugees.

The case for doing better in including all, and key aspects of the challenge, is already made therefore. The SDG agenda has taken up the challenge with two whole goals dedicated to ‘including all’ – SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG10 on reducing inequalities. As such, it has a lot to deliver.

So how are we to monitor whether or not countries are doing better or not?

The GEM Report has a World Inequality Database on Education  (WIDE) that has been tracking education disparities since 2012, with data from over 160 countries.  Dissectible by country, it shows just how wide education gaps are by wealth, location, gender, language and more. It serves as a vital tool for policy makers and donors to be aware of the challenge and correctly address where their resources need to be targeted. It serves as a signpost to campaigners, and those reviewing progress such as us, as to whether or not gaps are being closed, or simply remaining as they are. Continue reading

Posted in Equality, Equity, Finance, Marginalization, sdg, sdgs, Sustainable development, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Reflections: The First Global Education Monitoring Report’s Advisory Board Meeting

By Baela Raza Jamil- Vice Chair GEM Report


For two full days I was honoured to Chair the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report’s First Advisory Board meeting (June 2-3 2016). Jeff Sachs our luminary Chairperson was unable to attend due to on-going strikes so I stood in, as the Vice-Chair. It was an extraordinary 2 days. It was the First Advisory Board meeting since the GEM Report was baptised, from its earlier incarnation as the EFA GMR (Global Monitoring Report). The decision to rename the Report and to focus on SDG 4 on Education was affirmed at the last year’s Advisory Board meeting. Since then, the role of the GEM Report has been boldly reinforced in the Incheon Declaration (May 2015), the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) at the UN General Assembly (September 2015) and in the Education 2030 Framework for Action endorsed by Ministries of Education during UNESCO’s General Conference (November 2015).

Now that the GEM Report has a clearly endorsed mandate, it needs to become more finely aligned to the architecture of the emergent SDG multi-layered governance system and its calendar. Many thought that this is an occasion for the GEM Report and its products to constitute a compelling formal knowledge reference until 2030, a report and set of publications that no one interested in global education can live without! Continue reading

Posted in Donors, monitoring, Post-2015 development framework, Report, sdg, sdgs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Should school principals be held accountable for the quality of education? An Ethiopian perspective.

The 2017 GEM Report will explore the successes and challenges to effective accountability in Education. While the online consultation is now officially closed, we welcome comments until the yearlong research period of the Report is over. This includes the following comments from an Ethiopian perspective, which explore whether school principals should be held accountable for the quality of education in their schools.

When we asked the question to you via twitter, we received the following fairly telling response:

twitterLet’s see how the question is answered by three different points of view in Ethiopia: the Ministry of Education, a school principal and a student.

ethiopia school

School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A/ Response from the Ministry of Education

By Fedlu Redi (School improvement program directorate, primary education program expert), Ministry of education, Ethiopia

Before we answer this question, it is important to see what activities are implemented by the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders to provide quality education at the school level and what are the responsibilities of school principals in supporting these efforts. Then we can easily identify where the blame should go.

In Ethiopia, currently there are more than 35,000 primary and 2,000 secondary government schools. Government schools account for about 96% of school enrollment and non-government schools account for the rest. Where schools do not exist, the first cycle of primary education is delivered through Alternative Basic Education Centers, which follows a curriculum different from that of primary schools. Continue reading

Posted in accountability, Africa, Basic education, Developed countries, Developing countries, Governance, Learning, monitoring, pedagogy, Quality of education, sdgs, Sustainable development, Teachers, teaching, Testing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Some donors are shifting aid to secondary education

The recent policy paper by the GEM Report containing the data on 2014 aid spending shows that, for several years, aid to education has been stuck not only at a level far below what is needed but even below levels reached a few years ago. Total aid to education in 2014 was 8% below its 2010 peak, while total aid to basic education is down 14%.

But it also shows some subtle shifts, with donors continuing to increase the share of their aid going to secondary education. The share of basic education (providing for pre-primary and primary education as well as basic skills) in total aid to education in 2014 was 3 percentage points below the peak it reached in 2010. By contrast, secondary education’s share increased from 12% in 2005 to 16% in 2010 and 21% in 2014.

Distribution of total aid to education by sector, 2003–2014


Source:  Global Education Monitoring Report team analysis based on OECD Creditor Reporting System (2016)

During this period, perhaps the most striking trend is the steadily rising disbursements of the United Kingdom and the World Bank, which increased their aid to secondary education by almost US$400 million per year between 2002/03 and 2013/14. They now give almost US$1 billion of aid to secondary education between them. In the case of the United Kingdom this is equivalent to an almost 10-fold increase during the period. Continue reading

Posted in Aid, Donors, Post-2015 development framework, sdg, sdgs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment