Each Child Learning, Every Student a Graduate

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1 Each Child Learning, Every Student a Graduate A Bold Vision for Lifelong Learning Beyond 2015 January 2013 The Basic Education Coalition is a group of 18 U.S.-based global development and humanitarian aid organizations committed to bringing quality basic education to each child. Its members are ChildFund International, Creative Associates International, Education Development Center, American Institutes for Research, FHI360, RTI International, Save the Children, DevTech Systems Inc, ProLiteracy, Chemonics, Catholic Relief Services, Plan International USA, World Learning, World Education, Perkins International, RESULTS, Juarez & Associates, and Women Thrive Worldwide. This paper reflects a consensus among BEC members in support of recommendations for lifelong learning beyond 2015.

2 Executive Summary The Basic Education Coalition believes that all children and youth throughout the world should receive a quality basic education. No child should be deprived of the opportunity to read, learn math, develop critical thinking, and acquire important life skills. A quality basic education is the foundation for learning in school, developing a stable livelihood, and becoming a responsible, productive member of society. It is the surest path out of poverty and despair for millions of children and youth around the world who share humanity s common dream the hope for a better life. Yet, 61 million primary school age children and 71 million youth remain out of school, and many millions more do not complete schooling that imparts meaningful learning and relevant skills. In this brief paper, we offer several recommendations for the next set of global education goals to which government leaders, civil society, educators and other stakeholders should commit. Our recommendations are grounded in decades of extensive, first-hand experience implementing basic education programs and related policy measures. Now is the moment to generate political will and mobilize constituencies around a bold vision for lifelong learning. That vision calls for an education that is available to all children, including the most marginalized and vulnerable, and is structured to foster learning and the acquisition of relevant skills. Its central objective, elaborated below, is that by 2030, all children should be completing primary and lower secondary education which reflects each country s standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition. This central objective is reflected in three recommendations discussed below. First, we offer goal language and accompanying indicators in the context of the next set of goals to replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG), set to expire in Second, we offer goal language and accompanying indicators to replace the current Education for All (EFA) goals, also set to culminate in Finally, we propose an ongoing global dialogue on effective education practices and standards that will inform country plans and stakeholder actions taken towards both sets of goals. Recommendation for a Post-MDG Education Goal: By 2030, all children and youth should complete primary and lower secondary education which enables them to meet measurable learning standards and acquire relevant skills so they may become responsible, productive members of society Progress toward this goal would be tracked by four indicators: Availability of and enrollment in pre-primary and other early childhood care and education programs Completion of primary and lower secondary education, including non-formal education, with completion based on fulfilment of measurable learning standards at each grade or level, and end of cycle, and data disaggregated by gender and other categories of marginalized and vulnerable groups Adult literacy rates, and rates of participation in and completion of continuing education and training Percentage of countries whose national education plans and policies are standards-based and effectively track and measure learning outcomes, skills acquisition, and teacher and other educational staff s certification and professional development, and which make systematic use of standards-based exams and other tools for assessing continuous learning 1

3 Recommendation for Post-EFA Goals: 1) By 2030, improve school readiness by reducing by 50% the proportion of young children, including marginalized and vulnerable groups, who are not attending early childhood care and education programs Progress toward this goal would be tracked primarily by the availability of and enrollment in pre-primary and other early childhood care and education programs. 2) By 2030, all children and youth, including marginalized and vulnerable groups, complete primary and lower secondary education which enables them to meet measurable learning standards and acquire relevant skills so they may become responsible, productive members of society Progress toward this goal would be tracked primarily by completion of primary and lower secondary education, including non-formal education, with completion based on fulfilment of standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition at each grade or level, and end of cycle, and data disaggregated by gender and other categories of marginalized and vulnerable groups. 3) By 2030, reduce adult illiteracy by 50% and expand lifelong learning Progress toward this goal would be tracked primarily by adult literacy rates, and participation in and completion of continuing education and training. 4) By 2030, all countries have strong education systems in place which support learning Progress toward this goal would be tracked primarily by the percentage of countries whose national education plans and policies are standards-based and effectively track and measure learning outcomes, skills acquisition, and teacher and other educational staff s certification and professional development, and which make systematic use of standards-based exams and other tools for assessing continuous learning. Recommendation for Global Consultations on Effective Education Practices and Standards: With input from all stakeholders, we recommend that an international body launch a series of global consultations on effective education practices and standards, focusing on access, equity, learning and sustainability. These consultations could occur regionally, and the findings would shape national education plans, and advance the post-mdg and EFA goals. We call on education stakeholders everywhere to support these recommendations for the post-2015 global development agenda, so that by the year 2030 we can proudly proclaim: Each Child Learning, Every Student a Graduate! 2

4 Introduction There have been remarkable gains in human development and well-being over the last few decades. Most people today are healthier, live longer, are more educated, and have more access to goods and services. 1 There also have been considerable strides in expanding the power of people to select leaders, influence public decisions and share knowledge. Much of this progress has been driven by global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which will culminate in the year The MDG goals, launched in 2000, committed world leaders to address a range of humanitarian and development sectors in order to eradicate global poverty, mobilized public support, impacted budgets, sparked advocacy movements, and shaped donor strategies and programs worldwide. 2 As debate grows around a new set of objectives to replace the expiring MDGs, our world continues to face real challenges to economic and human security. In addition, many of the gains in health, education and higher standards of living have been distributed unequally, increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots, and further marginalizing those who suffer discrimination due to gender, disability, ethnicity, or other factors. We share a common humanity with those who are most directly impacted by these challenges, and a common interest in alleviating suffering and improving their lives. The question is: how do we move forward? The Basic Education Coalition (BEC) seeks to advance this discussion by focusing on one indispensable solution to improving human security and well-being: ensuring that all children and youth can receive a quality basic education. 3 We use the word solution here with utmost conviction, based on abundant evidence and human experience that education transforms the prospects of individuals, families, communities and nations. Consider three areas where education is profoundly tied to the human condition: economic growth, security and social equality. Economic Growth: We know with certainty that the quality of education has powerful effects on individual earnings, distribution of income, and economic growth. For every dollar invested in education, there is an estimated fifteen fold increase in economic growth. 4 UNESCO observes that the Republic of Korea went from being poor to wealthy in just thirty years, partly by emphasizing and planning for skills development, and by achieving universal primary and secondary education. 5 Countries which have boosted literacy rates by 20-30% have seen simultaneous increases in GDP of between 8-16%. 6 Further, when more young people have a quality basic education, we see more prosperous and secure societies that can trade with the U.S. and other nations. For every 10% increase in U.S. exports, there is a 7% boost in employment in the U.S. A relevant, modern, quality education also is the best way to ensure that an exploding youth population can secure meaningful employment, and avoid lives of desperation and despair. UNESCO notes that in developing 1 Human Development Report th Anniversary Edition, The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development, UNDP (2010), overview at 1. 2 The discussions underway relating to the post-mdg goals include debate about moving to so-called Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. There are other broad frameworks also under discussion. T S. Narayan, Education for All Beyond 2015: Mapping Current International Actions to Define the Post 2015 Education and Development Agendas, UNESCO (Aug. 2012). The education goal proposed in this section would be consistent with these broader post- MDG frameworks, as currently understood. 3 At the end of July, 2012, BEC held a roundtable discussion where BEC members heard from numerous education experts on the possible approaches to a post-2015 vision for education. Their input was invaluable in formulating this paper. For two in-depth reviews of the emerging issues, actors and processes relating to the post-2015 discussion on education, see N. Burnett, C. Felsman, Post-2015 Education MDGs, Results for Development Institute (Aug. 2012) and S. Narayan, Education for All Beyond 2015: Mapping Current International Actions to Define the Post 2015 Education and Development Agendas, UNESCO (Aug. 2012). 4 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at Fiske, Edward B., Basic Education: Building Blocks for Global Development, Academy for Educational Development (1993), at 16. 3

5 countries alone, the population aged 15 to 24 reached over 1 billion in A good quality education that fosters learning and imparts 21 st century skills gives youth an opportunity to find employment, contribute to their communities and societies, and fulfill their potential. Security: Education is also vital to local stability and global security, including that of the U.S. The Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Smart Power determined that education is the best hope of turning young people away from violence and extremism. Education reduce(s) the risk of violence and civil unrest 8 by teaching values of respect, tolerance and understanding. Indeed, each year of education for males reduces the risk of conflict by around 20 percent. 9 Social Equality: The positive impact of education is irrefutable as a means of empowering women and girls and other marginalized and vulnerable groups. Educating girls and women creates a ripple effect throughout society, boosting economic productivity and reducing poverty; lowering maternal and infant mortality rates; protecting against HIV/AIDS; enhancing social status; increasing gender equality; delaying sexual activity; improving reproductive health; increasing per capita income, with earnings more likely to benefit the family and the community; promoting better management of environmental resources; and contributing to the development and strengthening of democracy. It is critical for education to reach the most marginalized, who face considerable disadvantage in both entering and progressing through school. School is a safe haven for children facing human rights abuses, including child marriage, child trafficking or child labor. Experience in Nepal and Malawi has shown that education programs which focus on foundational skills, vocational skills and second chance learning for marginalized populations have given young people their best chance to break out of poverty. 10 Delivering education through affordable technology has reached disadvantaged groups in many countries, including South Sudan, Honduras and India. 11 As debate evolves on the next set of global goals, equitable access to a quality basic education must be a foremost priority. Education is a human right and must be extended to all -- without reservation due to economic status, gender, race, ethnicity or disability. At least at the primary level, education must be free and compulsory, as envisioned under the current MDG 2, to ensure access for all marginalized and vulnerable populations. 12 Secondary education, including general and vocational education, should be available to every youth, and countries should take steps to eliminate obstacles to enrollment and regular attendance, including financial assistance in case of need. In addition, education should be of a quality that enables all students to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a modern world. It needs to be tailored to the circumstances and needs of people where they live, and responsive to the priorities and plans of governments, civil society and other stakeholders. Finally, it must be highly focused on ensuring that children and youth not only enter school, but also graduate with the tools needed for bright, promising futures. Our recommendations for the post-mdg and new EFA goals reflect these imperatives and our belief that every child deserves the chance to learn. We will convey our vision for lifelong learning beyond 2015 with this simple call to action: Each Child Learning, Every Student a Graduate! 7 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at Context Paper: What is the Role of Education as It Relates to Reducing Fragility? USAID. Citing Desk Study: Education and Fragility, Conflict and Education Research Group (CERG) Bilal Barakat, Zuki Karpinska and Julia Paulson, Inter Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, May 2008 USAID: A Guide to Economic Growth in Post Conflict Countries. United Nations, The World s Women 1995: Trends and Statistics (United Nations: New York, 1995), p Collier, P. Doing Well Out of War: An Economic Perspective, in Berdal, M. and Malone, D. M. (eds.) Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder (2000). 10 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO at 26, 266 (Nepal program), and 285 (Malawi program). 11 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO at 248, Box The obligation to extend free and compulsory education rests primarily with the host-country government. However, countries that indicate a commitment to apply effective practices and standards toward meeting this obligation are apt to attract greater support from public and private donors. We also note that ensuring that education is compulsory should not be construed to restrict non-formal education or home schooling. 4

6 Key Global Education Challenges and Opportunities There are several global education challenges and opportunities which provide important context to the discussion around the post-mdg goals, as well as the Education for All (EFA) goals, which also expire in First, much of the current focus is on ensuring that the next set of universal goals for education help drive improved student learning outcomes. This is a critically important concern, given the millions of children who drop out of school each year, at least partly because they are not learning relevant skills or otherwise receiving a good-quality education. The most recent statistics show that in 123 low- and middle-income countries, around 200 million of those aged 15 to 24 have not even completed primary school. This is the equivalent of 1 in 5 young people. 14 Of these, 58% are female. 15 Among the world s 650 million children of primary school age, approximately 120 million do not reach grade 4, and an additional 130 million are in school, but failing to learn the basics. 16 Improving the ability of a child to learn requires significant resources combined with application of effective practices, a focus on measurable learning standards, and stakeholder collaboration around implementation of a country s national education plan. Learning assessments are central, as are important inputs, particularly well-trained and supported teachers, relevant curriculum, books and learning materials, and other factors which ensure sustainability of efforts. There is also, however, continuing concern about the number of children who remain out of school altogether, and the need to ensure that the benefits of education are extended equitably to include marginalized and vulnerable populations. There are roughly 61 million children of primary school age who are out of school, and on current trends, the goal of universal primary education (UPE) will be missed by a large margin. 17 An additional 71 million adolescents of lower secondary school age were out of school in In 2010, 47% of out-of-school children were considered likely never to enroll. 19 While this percentage has decreased and more children are entering school, increasing drop-out rates indicate that the most marginalized groups are finding it more difficult to complete the education cycle. 20 The hardest-to-reach groups include girls, children living in conflict or fragile countries, the disabled, ethnic and linguistic minorities, the rural poor, working children, children in domestic labor, children subject to human rights abuses, and others. Progress toward the EFA goals is stalled in large part because these groups are disenfranchised from education on a large scale. For example, over 40% of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries. 21 In addition, most of the roughly 150 million disabled children in the world live in developing countries, where they are marginalized from education through institutionalized discrimination, stigmatization and neglect. 22 There is an ongoing dialogue on how to bring quality, relevant education to all children in the most effective and impactful way possible. This discussion is occurring among thought leaders with skill and experience in designing, implementing and overseeing education programs, conducting research, crafting policy, pursuing advocacy, and coordinating efforts among ministries, donors, and other stakeholders. It is compelled by the 13 The current MDG goals relating to education are goal 2 (free compulsory primary school) and goal 3 (gender parity and women s empowerment). The current EFA goals cover early childhood care and education ( ECCE ); free and compulsory primary school; lifelong learning for youth and adults; adult literacy; gender parity and equality; and improved quality. 14 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at 7. This learning crisis is increasingly driving donor strategies. For example, USAID s education strategy is targeting 100 million children to attain improved literacy skills by USAID Education Strategy, Opportunity Through Learning (Feb. 2011), 17 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2011), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2010), UNESCO, at

7 need to make development more effective, sustainable, and country-led. It is driven by the need for youth to leave secondary school with relevant skills and preparation for meaningful employment in the modern world. And, it is spurred by the introduction of new and innovative uses of technology in education, and the increasing contributions of the corporate sector. As we look beyond 2015, we recognize that adequate resources, coordination and collaboration among education stakeholders are lacking, and assistance is not sufficiently rooted in national education plans or goals. All children deserve the chance to learn, and that right must also be realized for the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. 23 It is also apparent that if we hope to keep children and youth in school until graduation and give them a quality education, we must do a better job of earning the confidence of students, parents and local leaders willing to sacrifice so much in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children. 24 In short, we must ensure that education empowers children, youth and adults to secure good jobs where they draw upon relevant skills, and live their lives as engaged, socially-conscious individuals. Vision for Global Education Beyond 2015: A Three-Pronged Approach First, we propose one post-mdg goal for universal completion of an education, broadly defined to include both formal and non-formal education, which enables children and youth to meet measurable learning standards and acquire important skills, so they are prepared to become responsible, productive members of society. Such a goal reflects all three critical issues of access, learning and equity noted above. Second, we propose four streamlined EFA goals which relate to and support the larger post-mdg goal. These goals cover pre-primary and other early childhood care and education programs, completion of a primary and lower secondary school education which is indicative of meaningful learning, expanded adult literacy and training, and strong education systems which reinforce learning and have an enduring impact. Third, we recommend the launch of a series of global consultations on effective education practices that would inform the path to both sets of goals. These consultations could spark greater collaboration amongst countries, donors and all stakeholders as they seek to improve education within countries, so that the everchanging science and purpose of learning is fostered and supported, and the universal goals more readily achieved. Groups like the Brookings Institution s Learning Metrics Task Force and others are already laying the groundwork for such a framework. Proposed Post-MDG Goal on Education By 2030, all children and youth should complete primary and lower secondary education which enables them to meet measurable learning standards and acquire relevant skills, so they may become responsible, productive members of society 23 See Education Post-2015, What is Our Vision of Education, Global Campaign for Education. 24 Selim Jahan, Poverty Director of the UN Development Program has observed that a key issue is the relevance of education to people struggling in poverty: Education remains one of the main determinants for sustainable livelihoods, including decent employment; as well as addressing equity through being able to open up economic opportunities to all. Through quality education young women and men can productively contribute to their societies, as well as help make them more equitable in the future. Education also builds human capital, thus contributing to the ability of individuals to cope with adverse shocks an unfortunately inevitable part of the post 2015 landscape. Paper of Selim Jahan, UN Development Program, submitted for BEC Roundtable on Post-2015 Education Goals (July 26, 2012). 6

8 School graduation is a proud moment for students, as well as the parents, teachers and community who have made sacrifices to reach that day. Completion as a post-mdg goal thus holds great promise to excite and mobilize underrepresented stakeholders, including southern networks, parents and teachers. 25 Progress toward this goal would be tracked by four indicators which reinforce the association between completion and meaningful learning: Availability of and enrollment in pre-primary and other early childhood care and education programs Completion of primary and lower secondary education, including non-formal education, with completion based on fulfillment of standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition at each grade or level, and end of cycle, and data disaggregated by gender and other categories of marginalized and vulnerable groups Adult literacy rates, and rates of participation in and completion of continuing education and training Percentage of countries whose national education plans and policies are standards-based and effectively track and measure learning outcomes, skills acquisition, and teacher and other educational staff s certification 26 and professional development, and which make systematic use of standardsbased exams and other tools for assessing continuous learning 27 There are three important elements to this goal and accompanying indicators which merit elaboration: (1) the emphasis on universal and equitable access; (2) the emphasis on the quality of education and improved learning; and (3) education s ultimate purpose of allowing children and youth to develop into responsible, productive members of society. Emphasis on Equity of Access By referring to all children and youth, the goal includes marginalized and vulnerable groups, and thereby integrates completion directly with the critical challenges of access and equity. As noted above, these disadvantaged groups include girls, children living in conflict or post-conflict states, the disabled, ethnic or linguistic minorities, the rural poor, working children, children in domestic labor, children subject to human rights abuses, and others. In the context of a country s national education plan, each country would be encouraged to set paths and timetables toward universal completion that includes quantitative targets and plans for reaching particularly disadvantaged groups, as the country considers practicable. 28 Through non-traditional methods of delivering education, such as second-chance education, accelerated learning, distance education, and other innovative approaches and technologies, communities will be able to 25 Focusing on completion of high school is also a priority of the Obama Administration. In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama called states to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. This issue may thus appeal to those who assert that the next set of universal goals should apply to all nations, i.e., both the developed and developing world. See e.g., Assessment on Learning Advocacy for the Post 2015 Millennium/Sustainable Development Goals, Women Thrive Worldwide (July 2012). 26 For the purposes of this paper, certification suggests a formal recognition of teachers who are well prepared to guide students in meeting standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition. 27 These proposed indicators, which are primarily intended to assist host countries in tracking their progress, also could assist donors for purposes of their own indicators for evaluating their impact. For example, the U.S. has established a list of Standard Foreign Assistance Indicators which include indicators for tracking: (1) the proportion of students who, by the end of two grades of primary schooling, demonstrate that they can read and understand the meaning of grade level text (# ), and (2) the proportion of students who, by the end of the primary cycle, are able to read and demonstrate understanding as defined by a country curriculum, standards, or national experts ( ). The post-mdg goal indicator BEC proposes above which would track completion of primary and lower secondary education, including non-formal education, with completion based on fulfillment of measurable learning standards at each grade or level, and end of cycle, and data disaggregated by gender and other categories of marginalized and vulnerable groups, could enhance USAID s ability to assess the data it collects under its own standard indicators for improved literacy and understanding against the host country s data collection as it relates to a broader curricula and set of learning standards. 28 For this reason, it may be necessary to define universal completion by 2030 as 95% or greater completion. 7

9 better reach marginalized groups in a flexible way to ensure access to all children. In addition, these approaches often utilize rapidly-changing technology, which will continue to influence what is seen as the most efficient and effective manner to deliver education throughout the sector. Tracking tools and data currently exist, such as UNESCO s World Inequality Database on Education which could help each country to identify marginalized and vulnerable groups for this purpose, and set plans and allocate resources for eliminating education disparities across these groups. 29 Such tools could be particularly useful for the dozen countries which account for roughly half of the global out-of-school population. 30 The goal s indicator further requires the disaggregation of reported completion rates by gender and other marginalized and vulnerable group categories, at each grade or level, and end of cycle. Children and youth residing in countries impacted by conflict, crisis or other emergencies would be included in the groups of marginalized and vulnerable children and youth seeking to complete primary and lower secondary education. However, it must be acknowledged that disasters and other emergencies can disrupt education, sometimes for extended periods. Thus, countries recovering from such crises would again need to separately track progress for these children, and set timetables and strategies for moving these students toward completing their education, according to their particular circumstances and challenges. In extremely difficult circumstances, such as immediately following a natural disaster, there still must be an immediate psychosocial and education response, and where possible, immediate reinstatement of access to early childhood education, primary and secondary education, enabling completion of the school year, if interrupted. In all situations where education occurs in conflict, crisis or other emergencies, it is important to adhere to the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Network on Education in Emergencies (INEE). 31 The UN Secretary General recently also issued an important call to action to increase levels of humanitarian aid to education and improve its delivery mechanisms, keep education safe from attacks, and integrate emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in education sector plans and budgets. These protocols are the best way to ensure that children and youth in difficult and dangerous circumstances have the opportunity to continue their education and meet measurable learning benchmarks. 32 Emphasis on High Quality and Improved Learning for All In order for student completion to stand as a legitimate indicator of academic achievement and learning, it must represent more than grade transitions or the end of a cycle. While we believe that setting a goal around universal completion will itself energize efforts to improve learning, that step alone is insufficient. Thus, several other elements in BEC s three-pronged approach would help ensure that completion is meaningfully indicative of improved learning. In this regard, the goal specifies that a child or youth must receive an education 33 which enables them to meet measurable learning standards, and acquire relevant skills. Measurable learning standards should be defined 29 Several participants in the BEC Roundtable (e.g., George Ingram with the US Global Leadership Campaign, Mark Ginsburg with FHI360 and Teachers College, Columbia University), stressed the importance of having overall goals that could be adapted by individual countries according to their own timetables and targets. See also Assessment on Learning Advocacy for The Post 2015 Millennium/Sustainable Development Goals, Women Thrive Worldwide (July 2012). 30 Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery,www.ineesite.org. 32 See Education Cannot Wait: Protecting Children and Youth s Right to a Quality Education in Humanitarian Emergencies and Conflict Situation, Donors should consider how to incorporate these priorities into their education assistance strategies. For example, the United States is now implementing an education strategy which seeks to ensure educational access for 15 million children in conflict and crisis by USAID Education Strategy, Opportunity Through Learning (Feb. 2011), 33 For purposes of the suggested goal, we would define education sufficiently broadly to cover all education at the primary and lower secondary levels, i.e., both school-based and non-formal, including accelerated learning and second-chance approaches. Yet, regardless of whether education is formal or non-formal, completion must be associated with fulfillment of measurable learning standards, at grade or level, and at end of cycle. 8

10 in a country s national education plan, but at a minimum should include the core elements of a quality basic education, including literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and life skills. 34 Precisely how a student fulfills such standards necessary to complete primary and lower secondary education would be determined by each country, but at a minimum would require systematic use of standards-based exams and other tools for assessing continuous learning. The completion goal is further associated with a good quality education through the fourth accompanying indicator. This indicator addresses the percentage of countries whose national education plans and policies are standards-based and effectively track and measure learning outcomes, skills acquisition, and teacher and other educational staff s certification and professional development, and which make systematic use of standards- based exams and other tools for assessing continuous learning. Each of these elements, if comprehensively set forth in the plan, properly resourced and efficiently implemented, would give significantly greater meaning to completion as a legitimate approximation of student learning. In this regard, it is especially crucial that teachers receive better initial training and professional development. Teachers are the most important resource for improving learning. The 2012 Global Monitoring Report states that of 100 countries with data on primary education, in thirty-three of them, less than 75% of the teachers were trained to the national standard. 35 The world cannot expect students to receive a good quality education if teachers do not receive the professional training and development they require. Finally, two other goal indicators would directly contribute to the sort of learning which must occur if completion is to suggest attainment of a quality education. One of these indicators tracks the availability of and net enrollment ratios in pre-primary and other early childhood care and education programs. Thus, if we truly expect children to complete primary school, and if completion is dependent upon fulfillment of standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition, it is critical that children entering primary school have attended pre-primary education and other early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs. While schools are designed to facilitate the formal learning of reading and writing, we now know that the quality of the home environment and exposure to literacy experiences in the early years are the most important factors in language and literacy development. 36 For example, results from the 2009 PISA show that in fifty-eight out of sixty-five countries, 15-year-old students who had attended at least a year of pre-primary school outperformed students who had not. 37 The other indicator tracks adult literacy rates, and rates of participation in and completion of continuing education and training. Over time, we would expect that adult literacy rates will increase as a long-term outcome of improved quality and learning in primary and lower secondary school. 34 UNESCO provides a very useful construct that could guide the establishment of such standards around relevant education skills. It states that children and youth must acquire three types of skills: foundational skills, transferable skills, and technical and vocational skills. EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at 14. UNESCO defines foundation skills to include the literacy and numeracy skills necessary for getting work that can pay enough to meet daily needs. Transferable skills include the ability to solve problems, communicate ideas and information effectively, be creative, show leadership, and conscientiousness, and demonstrate entrepreneurial capabilities. Technical and vocational skills relate to jobs that require specific technical knowhow, ranging from agriculture to computer technology. Another potentially useful framework may emerge from the Brookings Institution s Learning Metrics Task Force. The Task Force is relating education to seven different domains, as follows: physical well-being; social and emotional; culture and the arts; literacy and communication; learning approaches and cognition; numeracy and mathematics; and science and technology. Brookings Institution, Learning Metrics Task Force, Project Overview and Progress to Date, November 2012, pdf 35 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at See Dickinson & Tabors, 2001; National Early Literacy Panel [NELP], 2008; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Whitehurst & Lonigan, EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at 2. 9

11 Education to Shape Responsible, Productive Members of Society The goal also suggests the ultimate purpose of education to prepare individuals to become responsible, productive members of society. This focus aligns directly with the UN Secretary General s Education First initiative, whose priorities for education include education that fosters global citizenship. Education is a human right whose exercise unlocks the doors to human progress and social justice. A quality education can foster important analytical and social skills which enable youth to make good choices and pursue responsible conduct. Particularly in zones of conflict or civil unrest, education can foster critical thinking, teamwork, and conflict resolution, thereby having a stabilizing impact, bringing fractured communities together around the school, easing tensions, and building peace. Schools which are secure, safe places for girls, without tolerance for harassment or sexual violence, can stifle discrimination and enable girls to flourish and succeed. Quality education also fosters social and cultural sensitivity, a greater awareness of current affairs and issues, and greater engagement in the political process. It informs people of their rights and obligations as citizens, and empowers individuals to hold their leaders accountable. People of voting age with a primary education are 1.5 times more likely to support democracy than people with no education, rising to three times more likely for someone with a secondary education. 38 Education is also necessary for day-to-day functionality. An adult who cannot read cannot follow the instructions on a medicine bottle, apply for a job, follow road signs, or read a receipt. In short, education can be a powerful tool that prepares children and youth to become responsible members of society. A quality, relevant education is also the surest path to economic productivity and self-sufficiency. Quality education equips people with the knowledge, skills and self-reliance they need to increase income and expand opportunities for employment. An individual s earnings increase by 10% on average for each year of school completed. 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills the equivalent of a 12% drop in world poverty. UNESCO s recent Global Monitoring Report clearly underscores the urgency of delivering quality relevant education to youth. Approximately one in eight people worldwide aged 15 to 24 are unemployed, and are three times more likely than adults to be so. 39 To accommodate the rapidly growing youth population in the Arab States, South and West Asia, and sub-saharan Africa, an additional 57 million jobs need to be created by 2020 just to prevent unemployment rates from rising above current levels. 40 UNESCO contends that secondary education should build on foundational skills and provide equal opportunities for all youth to develop transferable and technical and vocational skills to find a good job or for further education. 41 It recommends that donors strongly commit to skills development by supporting: country programs to ensure that all young people stay in school at least until the lower secondary level, second-chance programs for young people who have not had the opportunity to gain basic literacy and numeracy skills, and by giving disadvantaged youth training to improve their chances of earning a decent wage. 42 Girls and young women continue to face significant disadvantage in the acquisition of skills as well as access to job and economic opportunities. 116 million young women aged in developing countries have never 38 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2009), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at

12 completed primary school and lack skills for work. 43 In Pakistan, there are over three million primary schoolaged girls out of school. 44 One in three young women in sub-saharan Africa has not completed primary school and should have an opportunity for second chance learning. 45 Secondary education offers the best hope for young women to develop skills that would position them to obtain good jobs. 46 In Pakistan, women with a high level of literacy earned 95% more than women with no literacy skills. 47 UNESCO notes that including literacy, numeracy and other skills training in microfinance and social protection programs for rural women increases their chances of moving out of poverty. 48 Proposed Streamlined EFA Goals BEC s recommendations for streamlined EFA goals are designed to reinforce and complement the broader post-mdg goal discussed above. 1) By 2030, improve school readiness by reducing by 50% the proportion of young children, including marginalized and vulnerable groups, who are not attending early childhood care and education programs This first post-efa goal gives greater clarity to the current EFA goal on early care and education programs ( ECCE ) by setting a specific global target for expanded enrollment in such programs and reinforcing the importance of such programs to primary school readiness and transitions into the early grades. This goal is also linked directly to the proposed post-mdg goal, through its indicator for availability and net enrollment in ECCE programs. As with that indicator, progress toward this revised EFA goal would be tracked primarily by: Availability of and enrollment in pre-primary and other early childhood care and education programs 2) By 2030, all children and youth, including marginalized and vulnerable groups, complete primary and lower secondary education which enables them to meet measurable learning standards and acquire relevant skills, so they may become responsible, productive members of society Progress toward this goal would be tracked primarily by: Completion of primary and lower secondary education, including non-formal education, with completion based on fulfilment of standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition at each grade or level, and end of cycle, and data disaggregated by gender and other categories of marginalized and vulnerable groups The second proposed streamlined EFA goal mirrors the heart of the post-mdg goal, focusing on universal completion of primary and lower secondary education by 2030, and establishing that completion requires fulfillment of standards for measurable learning and acquiring relevant skills. As discussed below, these standards and other elements of improved learning could be identified in proposed global consultations on effective education practices and standards. 43 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, Gender Summary at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, Gender Summary at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, Gender Summary at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, Gender Summary at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at

13 3) By 2030, cut adult illiteracy by 50% and expand lifelong learning Progress toward this goal would be tracked primarily by: Adult literacy rate, and rates of participation in and completion of continuing education and training Today, approximately 775 million adults, roughly two-thirds of who are women, cannot read or write. 49 If we are truly serious about eliminating poverty and transforming and empowering societies through education, we simply cannot afford to further ignore the related problems of widespread adult illiteracy and the gap between skills and employability. This third proposed streamlined EFA goal would combine certain elements of current EFA goals three and four. It calls for reducing adult illiteracy by 50% by the year 2030, and expanding lifelong learning for youth and adults. The formulation of this goal recognizes that very little progress has been made toward EFA goals three and four, and that the world needs to strongly recommit to these important objectives. 4) By 2030, all countries have strong education systems in place which support learning Progress toward this goal would be tracked primarily by: Percentage of countries whose national education plans and policies are standards-based and effectively track and measure learning outcomes, skills acquisition, and teacher and other educational staff s certification and professional development, and which make systematic use of standards-based exams and other tools for assessing continuous learning Learning is not only an outcome of the student-teacher relationship; it also requires sound policies, laws, and capacity to support students, teachers and administrators in their respective roles. The fourth goal above would track how national education systems support learning. Education plans and policies should detail standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition which students must meet in order to advance through school and complete an education of good quality. In addition to specific subject knowledge training, it is essential that teachers learn the most effective classroom techniques and receive ongoing support so that students can meet these standards. Further, country plans and policies should address how learning standards are met, including through standards-based exams and other learning assessments. All of these elements are essential to ensure that completing an education is a legitimate measure of learning. Global Consultations on Effective Education Practices and Standards Education stakeholders do not currently operate with the benefit of a common set of effective education practices and standards that are responsive to host country needs. This undermines host-country efforts to design credible education plans for greatest efficiency and impact, and tailor implementation to their particular circumstances. It deprives implementing organizations of the opportunity to share lessons learned and evidence-based approaches. It can also lead to donor strategies which allocate resources or expertise to programs which are unsustainable, or misplaced vis-à-vis host-country priorities. 49 EFA Global Monitoring Report (2012), UNESCO, at 5. 12

14 At the same time, what may be an effective education practice or standard in one country may be irrelevant to another, particularly in countries struggling to emerge from conflict or disaster. Moreover, education practices and standards must evolve to keep pace with changing technologies, stakeholder expectations, and employer demands for graduates with 21 st century skills. To ensure the success of the above post-mdg and EFA goals, BEC proposes the launch of a series of global consultations on effective education practices and standards. These consultations would include sound approaches to expanding access, reaching marginalized and vulnerable groups, fostering learning, and achieving sustainability of efforts. 50 The findings could cover issues ranging from school safety and sanitation to methods for teaching reading to measuring outcomes. They would bring together all key stakeholders, under the auspices of an already-established international body, to debate and identify such practices and standards. The consultations could occur regionally on a periodic basis, and the findings would be used to tailor national education plans to country needs and objectives, inform implementing partners, and align donor strategies around their comparative advantages in development assistance. These consultations could be a resource for countries seeking to identify standards for measurable learning and skills acquisition which must be met in order for children to complete primary and lower secondary school. The findings could inform effective practices, teacher training standards, certification requirements and learning assessments that could be adapted to a country s particular purposes. The consultations could also assist countries wanting to strengthen their education systems to maximize prospects for learning and skills acquisition. The consultations could explore these issues in a variety of contexts, including conflict or postconflict settings, across the spectrum of lifelong learning, and for a variety of stakeholders, including marginalized and vulnerable groups. As discussed above, numerous practitioners and experts offer important perspectives on effective education practices and standards, but there is currently no forum or structured dialogue for synthesizing their recommendations for the benefit of all stakeholders. These are just a few of the organizations and initiatives whose collective expertise would be of enormous value to the global consultations we propose: The UN Secretary General s Education First Initiative USAID s education strategy The World Bank strategy on Learning for All The strong expertise and experience of the Global Partnership for Education, particularly its ongoing development of communities of practice UNESCO, particularly its International Institute for Education Planning, UNICEF, and UNGEI The INEE s Minimum Standards on Education in Emergencies The Basic Education Coalition s What Works in Basic Education project, and various member efforts around measurement and opportunities for learning The work of the Brookings Institution s Learning Metrics Task Force The vast research and experience of the Comparative and International Education Society Thought leaders like International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, Results for Development Institute, and its new Center for Education Innovations, the Center for Global Development and the Harvard Graduate School of Education 50 The Global Partnership for Education in its new strategic plan, and other stakeholders, also has focused on these issues in the post-2015 education agenda. See Global Partnership for Education, Strategic Plan (2012). Similarly, a strong majority of interviewees from north and south in the recent survey of roughly 100 education stakeholders felt that any new MDGs/SDGs on education should focus on access, learning and equity an inseparable three-legged stool for education. See Assessment on Learning Advocacy for The Post 2015 Millennium/Sustainable Development Goals, Women Thrive Worldwide (July 2012). 13

15 Templates for best practices from domestic education models, including the Institute of Education Sciences, International Reading Association, Edutopia and others Effective teacher practices and support, as considered by the National Education Association and Education International 51 With the commitment and support of these and many other actors, global consultations on effective education practices and standards could indeed be realized and serve as a resource for preparing national education plans and progress toward the post-mdg and EFA goals. Conclusion The opportunity is now at hand to launch the next wave of global education efforts to bring quality basic education to all children and youth, expand lifelong learning, and realize the true promise of education to transform lives and lift people out of poverty. As the post-2015 landscape evolves, it is essential that education remain at the forefront of the agenda. We hope our vision as outlined in this paper advances the important discussion now underway. 51 See, e.g., Education International s Quality Educators for All Project, The issue of how to train, support and mobilize teachers behind the post-2015 education goals cannot be underestimated. See Assessment on Learning Advocacy for The Post 2015 Millennium/Sustainable Development Goals, Women Thrive Worldwide (July 2012) (survey results finding that while numerous factors were cited as being key variables for learning, virtually all respondents pointed to teachers and the variety of factors surrounding teachers such as training, compensation, etc., as the most influential factor affecting learning outcomes). 14

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