Policy papers

Six ways to ensure higher education leaves no one behind

Published: 
20 April, 2017
Higher education is a cornerstone for sustainable development.1 It creates new knowledge, teaches specific skills and promotes core values like freedom, tolerance and dignity. Under the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all, Target 4.3 states that, by 2030, countries should provide equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and higher education, including university. Achieving this target will facilitate the achievement not only of SDG4 but also of all other SDGs.
 
This policy paper, written in partnership with the UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP), makes policy recommendations for equitable and affordable higher education to better support the implementation of the SDG agenda. To do this, it reviews recent trends in higher education expansion, identifies disparities in student participation, examines policy tools and practices for fostering equity, and explores ways to target assistance at those who need it most.

 

Let's decide how to measure school violence

Published: 
16 January, 2017

Violence in schools and other education settings causes serious harm to children and adolescents that can last into adulthood. As the UN World Report on Violence against Children observed, it is a global phenomenon (Pinheiro, 2006). Policies, laws and strategies to prevent school-related violence depend on accurate knowledge of its global prevalence, trends and effects, but such evidence is lacking. This paper surveys current methods of assessing school-related violence and sets out options for improving the global evidence base. 

Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development

Published: 
15 December, 2016
Few instruments shape children’s and young people’s minds more powerfully than the teaching and learning materials used in schools. Textbooks convey not only knowledge but also social values and political identities, and an understanding of history and the world. Teachers and students trust textbooks as authoritative and objective sources of information, assuming that they are accurate, balanced and based on the latest scientific findings and pedagogical practice. In some contexts, textbooks are the first and sometimes the only books that a young person may read (Lässig and Pohl, 2009). In most classrooms they determine what and how teachers teach.

Leaving no one behind: How far on the way to universal primary and secondary education?

Published: 
15 July, 2016

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries have promised to achieve universal completion of primary and secondary education by 2030. This paper, jointly released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, illustrates the magnitude of this challenge. Globally, 263 million children, adolescents and youth between the ages of 6 and 17 are currently out of school, according to a new set of UIS indicators.

A key obstacle to achieving the target is persistent disparities in education participation linked to sex, location and wealth, especially at the secondary level. Selected policy responses to promote enrolment in secondary education are reviewed. 

No more excuses: Provide education to all forcibly displaced people

Published: 
20 May, 2016

This paper, jointly released by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Global Education Monitoring Report in advance of the World Humanitarian Summit, shows that the education rights of forcibly displaced populations are being neglected on a large scale.

It calls for countries and their humanitarian and development partners to urgently ensure that internally displaced, asylum seeking and refugee children and youth are included in national education plans, and collect better data to monitor their situation.

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Aid to education stagnates, jeopardising global targets

Published: 
25 April, 2016

The global community’s new development goals include achieving universal pre-primary, primary and secondary education of good quality by 2030. For the world to reach that target, aid to education needs to rise considerably. Donor countries have the means to bridge the gap. But the latest data, from 2014, show that for several years aid to education has been stuck at a level far below what is needed.

The 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report estimated that $US39 billion a year will be required on average over the next 15 years to reach the global education goals, over and above what low and lower middle income countries can mobilise themselves. Low income countries alone need $US21 billion a year. Yet when these estimates were made, aid for basic and secondary education in low income countries amounted to only US$3 billion — one-seventh of what these countries need. 

 

If you don’t understand, how can you learn?

Published: 
19 February, 2016

Quality education should be delivered in the language spoken at home. However, this minimum standard is not met for hundreds of millions, limiting their ability to develop foundations for learning. By one estimate, as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. The challenges are most prevalent in regions where linguistic diversity is greatest such as in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and the Pacific.

Poverty and gender magnify educational disadvantages linked to ethnicity and language. With a new global education agenda that prioritizes equity and lifelong learning for all, the policy of respecting language rights is essential and deserves close attention.

Every Child Should Have a Textbook

Published: 
19 January, 2016

The amount a country spends on learning materials is a good indicator of its commitment to providing a quality education for all. While there are various types of teaching and learning materials, this paper will focus on textbooks, which are the most commonly used type. Textbooks are especially relevant to improving learning outcomes in low income countries with large class sizes, a high proportion of unqualified teachers and a shortage of instructional time. Next to an engaged and prepared teacher, well-designed textbooks in sufficient quantities are the most effective way to improve instruction and learning.

Yet as this paper shows, in many countries students at all levels either lack books altogether or are required to share them extensively with others. Without textbooks, children can spend many of their school hours copying content from the blackboard, which severely reduces time for engaged learning.

 

Investing in teachers is investing in learning: A prerequisite for the transformative power of education

Published: 
6 July, 2015

Background paper for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development: The Oslo Summit on Education for Development aims to mobilize strong political commitment to achieve the Education 2030 targets that are proposed as part of the sustainable development agenda. It will explore four areas: education financing, girls’ education, education in emergencies, and quality of education. This background paper addresses the last of these areas – quality education. While improving quality is a complex endeavour and requires a broad range of interventions which pre-supposes sufficient financing and solid general education policies, this paper focuses primarily on teachers and effective teaching as key to achieving relevant learning outcomes

A growing number of children and adolescents are out of school as aid fails to meet the mark

Published: 
6 July, 2015

This paper, jointly released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, shows that the number of out-of-school children and young adolescents is on the rise, reaching 124 million in 2013. As countries strive to achieve universal primary and secondary education through the new Sustainable Development Goals, the international community must dramatically increase aid to education for countries with the greatest needs. While international aid to education increased slightly in 2013, it is still below the levels reached in 2010.

Humanitarian Aid for Education: Why It Matters and Why More is Needed

Published: 
29 June, 2015

With a growing proportion of the world’s out-of-school children and adolescents living in conflict-affected countries, education should be a priority for humanitarian and development donors. However, as this paper describes, humanitarian aid systems neglect the education of children and adolescents in countries affected by or emerging from conflict, and more and better targeted aid is needed.

Education 2030: Equity and quality with a lifelong learning perspective

Published: 
18 May, 2015

This paper is a contribution of the EFA Global Monitoring Report team to the World Education Forum in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It mostly draws on information from the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE). Its aim is to inform a debate on inequality in education opportunities and outcomes, which is a central part of the new agenda.

The challenge of teacher shortage and quality: Have we succeeded in getting enough quality teachers into classrooms?

Published: 
20 April, 2015

This paper is jointly released by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) and the UNESCO Education Sector at the 12th Session of the Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART) in Paris (April 2015). It addresses the challenge of recruiting and training quality teachers, using country administrative data collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) since 1999 and information from a variety of other sources.

Pricing the right to education: The cost of reaching new targets by 2030

Published: 
1 March, 2015

Updated: July 2015

This paper shows there is an annual financing gap of US$39 billion over 2015-2030 for reaching universal pre-primary, primary and secondary education of good quality in low and lower middle income countries. It is accompanied by four resources: a detailed background paper; the costing model where users can compare the results of changing selected underlying assumptions and using different data sources; a short user guide to the model; and a presentation

School-related gender-based violence is preventing the achievement of quality education for all

Published: 
1 March, 2015

This policy paper argues that school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is a global concern preventing children, especially girls, exercising their right to a safe, inclusive and quality education. The paper calls for a systematic and harmonized approach to identify, monitor and understand SRGBV, as well as strong policy interventions to develop targeted solutions to address the problem effectively. The paper is being jointly released by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR), UNESCO and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) at the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York City (March 2015).

Where do the proposed education targets fall short?

Published: 
1 February, 2015

This paper carefully examines the proposed post 2015 education targets and was prepared as a contribution to the technical review of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is based on a section of the forthcoming 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report, to be launched on 9 April 2015.

Building a better future: Education for an independent South Sudan

Published: 
1 June, 2011

In July 2011, South Sudan will become an independent nation. It will start life at a crossroad. The new country faces immense challenges and immediate threats. Yet it also has a unique opportunity to break with a past blighted by war and chart a new course. Decisive leadership by the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and resolute support from the international community could transform the lives of southern Sudan’s people and make the new nation a human development success story.

Trends in aid to education, 2002-2009

Published: 
1 November, 2011

While global spending on basic education increased from 2008 to 2009, to reach US$5.6 billion, it is still vastly insufficient for the 67 million children who are still out of school. Only around US$3 billion went to the poorest countries, which is far from the US$16 billion needed annually to reach the Education for All goals in these countries. Furthermore, more than half of the increase came from loans, largely as a response to the financial crisis. Such disbursements are unlikely to be sustained.

Beyond Busan: Strengthening aid to improve education outcomes

Published: 
1 November, 2011

For millions around the world who are still denied the chance of quality education, the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea offers hope but also real challenges. Not only is the financial crisis jeopardizing aid levels, but the latest evidence shows that the global movement for more effective aid is making disappointing headway.

Expanding equitable early childhood care and education is an urgent need

Published: 
1 April, 2012

The linguistic, cognitive and social skills that children develop in early childhood are the foundations for lifelong learning. If children fail to develop these foundations because they lack adequate nutrition or opportunities to learn, there are significant costs for both individuals and societies, and the effectiveness and equity of education systems are undermined. Breaking the link between poverty and early childhood disadvantage represents one of the most urgent priorities on the Education for All agenda.

Children still battling to go to school

Published: 
1 July, 2013

The 2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report exposed the hidden crisis of education in conflict-affected countries. Two years later, to mark the birthday of Malala, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban as she was exercising her right to go to school, this policy paper shows that urgent action is needed to bring education to the 28.5 million primary school age children out of school in countries affected by conflict.

Schooling for millions of children jeopardized by reductions in aid

Published: 
1 June, 2013

This paper, jointly released by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, shows that progress in reducing the number of children out of school has come to a virtual standstill just as international aid to basic education falls for the first time since 2002.

Turning the 'resource curse' into a blessing for education

Published: 
1 May, 2013

Low and middle income countries rich in natural resources could make huge strides towards universal schooling if they managed resource revenues better and devoted a significant share to education.

Addressing the crisis in early grade teaching

Published: 
1 April, 2013

This paper, jointly released by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, shows that progress in reducing the number of children out of school has come to a virtual standstill just as international aid to basic education falls for the first time since 2002.

WIDE Inequalities in Education

Published: 
1 April, 2013

A child or young person’s circumstances, such as their wealth, gender, ethnicity and where they live, play an important role in shaping their opportunities fo education and life. The World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE), developed by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, draws attention to unacceptable levels of education inequality across countries and between groups within countries, with the aim informing policy design and public debate.

This booklet looks at the impact that gender, wealth and where a child or young person lives has on their opportunities for education and later in life. Data in the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) for eight countries are analyzed: Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, India, Haiti, Nigeria, Uganda and Yemen.

There is a US$26 billion financing gap for basic education

Published: 
1 March, 2013

With fewer than 1,000 days left until the 2015 deadline of the Education for All goals, the global community needs to make a final push to overcome one of the biggest obstacles to education in the world’s poorest countries: insufficient finance. If governments and donors make concerted efforts to meet the promises they made in 2000, basic education for all could be achieved by 2015, according to new analysis by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report team.

Private sector should boost finance for education

Published: 
1 January, 2013

If private organizations really want to make a difference to education worldwide, they should dramatically increase their funding and align it with the Education for All goals.

Reaching out-of-school children is crucial for development

Published: 
1 June, 2012

This paper, jointly released by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, shows that progress in reducing the number of children out of school has stalled. This not only denies millions of children their right to education, but also jeopardizes wider development efforts. The paper sets out five reasons why reversing this trend is urgent.

Advocacy toolkit for teachers to provide a quality education

Published: 
1 October, 2014

In some parts of the world teacher unions are critically important to educational quality and have broadly positive working relationships with government and local educational employers. Virtually all top performing countries on international educational measures have strong unions that participate in setting the educational reform agenda. The unions provide important feedback on the actual conditions of teaching and learning. In some contexts, they provide infrastructure for educational systems where such capacity does not otherwise exist. Some are capable of fostering innovation, bringing needed new educational practices into being.

Sustainable development begins with education

Published: 
1 September, 2014

For more than half a century the international community of nations has recognized education as a fundamental human right. In 2000, it agreed to the Millennium Development Goals, which acknowledged education as an indispensable means for people to realize their capabilities, and prioritized the completion of a primary school cycle.

Notwithstanding the centrality of education in treaties, covenants and agreements, the international community has yet to recognize the full potential of education as a catalyst for development. While many national governments have increased their commitment to and support for education since 2000, its emphasis among donors and in many countries remains vulnerable to shifting conditions — financial and otherwise.

In the coming months the international community will create a space to re-consider its commitments and obligations to the young and the marginalized in the world, whose voices are often muted. Working together it is imperative that all interested stakeholders recommit themselves to unlocking the transformative power of education.

An important step can be seen in the outcome document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (released in July 2014), which reiterates that education is not only an end in itself but also a means to achieving a broad global development agenda. This policy paper provides a succinct, evidence-based overview of the numerous ways in which education can advance the proposed post-2015 sustainable development goals. It underscores the notion that sustainable development for all countries is only truly possible through comprehensive cross-sector efforts that begin with education.

 

Progress in getting all children to school stalls but some countries show the way

Published: 
1 June, 2014

This paper, jointly released by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), shows that global progress in reducing the number of children out of school has come to a virtual standstill. But many countries have made major progress since 2000 and offer examples to follow.

Aid reductions threaten education goals

Published: 
1 June, 2014

This paper reports the latest data on development and humanitarian aid to education. It is released to coincide with the Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Pledging Conference, which aims to raise US$3.5 billion for education over 4 years. It is vital to recognise this financing request as urgent, and that donors, new and old, see this as an opportunity to refill the funding pot for education in its time of need.

Increasing tax revenues to bridge the education financing gap

Published: 
1 March, 2014

Sustained economic growth has increased the resources that many of the world’s poorest countries can raise domestically to finance their education strategies. Many countries furthest from the Education for All goals, however, do not sufficiently tap their tax base. Strengthening tax systems is an essential condition for achieving Education for All. This policy paper shows that if governments in 67 low and middle income countries modestly increased their tax-raising efforts and devoted a fifth of their budget to education, they could raise an additional US $153 billion for education spending in 2015, increasing the average share of GDP spent on education from 3% to 6% by 2015.

Trends in aid to education: Lessons for post-2015

Published: 
1 December, 2013

In order to inform discussions on the role of aid in supporting a post-2015 development and education framework, this paper analyses trends in aid to education, identifying both the amount that donors are spending as well as whether these resources are being allocated effectively. It draws largely on the Education for All Global Monitoring Reports, which each year include analysis on financing in the context of achieving education goals.

Financing for Global Education: Opportunities for multilateral action

Published: 
2 September, 2013

Based on data analysis and case studies of the six most important multilateral donors in education, this report explores the role they could play either through their own resources or through mobilizing others. Special attention is paid to 41 countries in greatest need. These countries include the 35 low-income countries whose own resources are limited, together with the 6 middle-income countries which are amongst the 10 countries with the highest out-of-school populations. Multilaterals’ significance in the aid architecture and their unique capacity to pool funding, convene donors and be a lender of last resort, provides them with a number of opportunities to play a significant role.

Education transforms lives

Published: 
1 August, 2013

Education lights every stage of the journey to a better life, especially for the poor and the most vulnerable. Education’s unique power to act as a catalyst for wider development goals can only be fully realized, however, if it is equitable. That means making special efforts to ensure that all children and young people – regardless of their family income, where they live, their gender, their ethnicity, whether they are disabled – can benefit equally from its transformative power. Education empowers girls and young women, in particular, by increasing their chances of getting jobs, staying healthy and participating fully in society – and it boosts their children’s chances of leading healthy lives.

To unlock the wider benefits of education, all children need the chance to complete not only primary school but also lower secondary school. And access to schooling is not enough on its own: education needs to be of good quality so that children actually learn. Given education’s transformative power, it needs to be a central part of any post-2015 global development framework.

Wanted: Trained teachers to ensure every child’s right to primary education

Published: 
1 October, 2014

This paper, jointly released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) on World Teachers’ Day, shows that there are massive and persistent teacher shortages, especially of well-trained teachers. These chronic shortages will continue to deny the fundamental right to primary education for millions of children in decades to come if concerted action is not taken. Based on a series of projections on the numbers of teachers needed and the costs to hire them, this paper also highlights the urgent need to ramp up teacher training programmes in the immediate future.