It’s a little bit early to celebrate International Literacy Day

ILD 2016We have now officially moved from talking about whether someone is ‘literate’ or not, to discussing how proficient their literacy skills are.

 This is a significant step forward, which we should celebrate today – International Literacy Day. But we don’t yet have the tools to measure literacy along these lines in all parts of the world. Our celebrations, therefore, should be a bit muted.

Moving from a black and white discussion of literacy in dichotomous terms to levels of proficiency is a reflection of the advances that have been made in assessing literacy skills via direct assessments.  This also acknowledges the fact that different levels and types of literacy empower adults to achieve different functions in life.

Without measurement tools to directly assess proficiency levels the world over, we still have to refer to the old way of reporting to learn about literacy on a global scale.  As shown in the 2016 GEM Report released just this week, there are 758 million adults who are defined as ‘illiterate’, unable to read and write a simple sentence. There are 91 literate women for every 100 literate men – and as few as 74 literate women for every 100 literate men in low income countries. Continue reading

Posted in Adult education, Equity, Learning, Literacy, Marginalization, Quality of education, Sustainable development, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Youth need to be the beneficiaries and the guardians of the future”

ONLINE launch advertThe GEM Report will be holding the first ever digital youth launch of the 2016 GEM Report today at 2pm UCT. All are welcome. Please tune in to watch and ask questions during the digital launch from anywhere in the world.

The digital youth launch will be moderated by the GEM Report’s youth advisor, Salam Al-Nukta: “Education has been my cause for a long time, especially that I, myself, have been impacted by the war in my country. I would love to be the voice of many who remained voiceless and represent Syrian youth in this youth launch.”

Salam will be joined by young people from Pakistan, India, U.S.A, U.K., Kenya, Uganda, China and the DRC. Join us to hear their inspiring stories, and what they’re doing now to help ensure all young people get an education that is inclusive, accessible and high quality.


Vivian Onano, the Youth Ambassador for WaterAid attended a launch event for the 2016 GEM Report yesterday in Kigali, and will be joining the discussion from South Africa. “Access to education is a fundamental human right for every child. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. I am who I am today because of generous men and women who selflessly invested in my education, and thus am empowered, have a voice and able to contribute to the well-being of my society.”

15472133960_a696ac049b_oPeter Ochieng, Chair of the Global Partnership on Children with Disability Youth Council, is passionate about empowering youth with disabilities to realize their full potential. “I was born with Cerebral Palsy and later affected by polio after receiving an expired vaccine. I attend mainstream school throughout my studies; but the treatment I received due to my disability remained the same: I was always asked to repeat classes just because I cannot write, and every day I received a caning/banging my fingers with canes. When my mother tried to seek justice through the district education office, I was expelled from school. When I joined secondary school I experienced some relief thanks to kind classmates and patient teachers, and I came first in the school in the final O level exams.”

Peter hopes to offer some insights on how different stakeholders can best intervene to ensure that all persons with disabilities can have an opportunity to access meaningful education as a fundamental human right: “Everyone can study and learn, just the means and methods differ.”

David Crone has been advocating for young people’s rights in the UK and especially for their engagement in political, civics and citizenship education through the British Youth Council.


“I know the power of young people holding governments accountable for their promises on education,” said David. “With new development goals comes a fresh opportunity for sustained commitment to action and progress, and youth need to be both the main beneficiaries and the guardians of the future we collectively envision. I hope that the Youth Launch of the GEM Report will empower young people with the information they need to play an active role in the movement for high-quality, universal education and never allow the international community to be complacent.”

Join us today to hear more from these, and other, wonderful panelists. As Vivian says, “Our voices as youth matters!”

Posted in Africa, Arab States, sdg, sdgs, Sustainable development, Uncategorized, united nations, Youth | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Education needs to fundamentally change if we are to reach our global development goals

Report cover screenshotThe new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO, released this morning, shows the vast potential for education to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs). But, if education is to fulfill that potential and meet the current challenges facing the planet, a seismic shift is needed in policy, purpose and practice.

There are a few vital changes necessary for education to deliver on our expectations. Firstly, there is an urgent need for progress in education to speed up. If current trends continue, the world will achieve universal primary education in 2042, universal lower secondary education in 2059 and universal upper secondary education in 2084. This means the world would be half a century late for the 2030 SDG deadline. Continue reading

Posted in accountability, Adult education, Arab States, Asia, Basic education, child marriage, Citizenship, Climate change, Conflict, curriculum, data, Developed countries, Equity, Ethnicity, Gender, Governance, Human rights, ICT, immigration, integrated development, Language, Latin America, Learning, Legislation, Literacy, Marginalization, pedagogy, Post-2015 development framework, Post-secondary education, Poverty, Pre-primary education, Primary school, private schools, private sector, Production, Rural areas, Sexual violence, SRGBV, Sustainable development, Uncategorized, united nations | 5 Comments

Attend a launch event for the new Global Education Monitoring Report

Report cover screenshotThe 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all, UNESCO, is due to be launched next Tuesday, the 6th of September.

Multiple events are planned in over 50 countries around the world to present and debate the Report’s findings and recommendations. All are invited to attend, and can find an invitation about the events’ location, and logistics via the GEM Report website.

The GEM Report, which builds on the experience of the previous EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR) series, received a new mandate from the international education community to assess the progress of education under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Continue reading

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Fighting Poverty and Hunger for Quality Education

salam low resBy Salam Al-Nukta, youth advisor to the GEM Report

The youth population is continuously increasing, and is estimated to reach 1.8 billion this year. Obviously, it is a large population of mass power. Yet, as we say goodbye to another year’s International Youth Day, as the new Youth Advisor for the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, I think it crucial to point out that a vast portion of youth energy remains confined by physical and mental chains in countries affected by war and conflict. This must be addressed.

In my home, Syria, young people face many challenges. My country is the home of 4 million young people, of whom none have managed to survive war’s impact. A 6-year war has produced 4 million young people left behind with a low quality education, more hunger, increasing numbers of poor and displaced people… and so the list goes on.

Most youngsters saw quickly that the key for a sustainable and safer future was to flee Syria to a developed country. Others were less fortunate, restrained by the high costs of leaving and other social and economical barriers. Continue reading

Posted in Arab States, Conflict, Learning, Nutrition, Out-of-school children, Post-2015 development framework, refugees, Refugees and displaced people, school violence, sdg, sdgs, syria, Uncategorized, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Promoting indigenous knowledge within the Sustainable Development Agenda

9th blogBy Giorgia Magni, Education Research Consultant, and author of a background paper for the 2016 GEM Report

The preparation for the future begins with the lessons of the past”. These are the words of Tuimoce Fuluna Tikoidelaimakotu, a young member of the Korova settlement in Fiji. The “lessons of the past” he is referring to are those embedded in the traditional knowledge of his community, which have been passed down through the generations. As the 2016 GEM Report due out on the 6 September will show in more detail, these lessons are vital to understanding how to protect the environment around us, and, as such, should be all of our responsibility to protect.

Tuimoce tells a story of how, for centuries, indigenous populations have used their knowledge to adapt to hostile conditions, managing to live in harmony with nature by finding ways to sail the ocean in search of new soils to cultivate and new water sources when their reserves began to run low. Nowadays, this traditional knowledge is more important than ever. Threatened by the negative effects of climate change and the adverse impact of industrialization, it has become vital for these populations to restore and revitalize the knowledge that for centuries has been key to their survival. Continue reading

Posted in curriculum, Post-2015 development framework, Sustainable development, Teachers, teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Planning for Language Use in Education: Best Practices and Practical Steps for Improving Learning

By Alison Pflepsen, a research education analyst at RTI International,

1Imagine a classroom in which a teacher is required to teach in a language her students do not speak or understand well. During the reading lesson, students struggle to master the most basic skills because the words and sounds of the language taught are foreign to them. During the science lesson, the children are unable to read their textbooks or apply their existing knowledge on the topic. When it comes time for mathematics instruction, the teacher struggles to communicate in a language that is challenging to her, too, while students find it hard to understand and ask questions. At home, most students are unable to receive support from their parents, who also do not understand the language of instruction.

The situation described above is all too common in many places throughout the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, where millions of children are expected to learn in a language they do not understand. According to a recent paper on language policy in education by the GEM Report, up to 40 % of the global population does not have access to education in a language they understand. Teachers, too, may be required to teach in languages they do not know well. The consequences are profound, with children unable to learn and increasingly at risk for dropping out; teachers demoralized by their inability to communicate well with students; and entire school systems failing to provide a meaningful education. Continue reading

Posted in curriculum, Equality, Language, Learning, sdg, sdgs, Teachers, teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments