As debate intensifies over post-2015 development goals, a new report from the Learning Metrics Task Force presents a roadmap to put learning on the agenda and track the outcomes of the world’s children and youth in order to help improve education quality for all.
While primary school enrollment rates have risen dramatically over the past 15 years, the actual learning levels of children and youth remain low in many countries. It has been estimated that at least 250 million primary school-age children around the world are not able to read, write or count well enough to meet minimum learning standards, including girls and boys who have spent at least four years in school.* Yet we do not know the full scale of this crisis because measurement of learning outcomes is limited in many countries and, hence, difficult to assess at the global level.
To bridge this global data gap, 30 organizations have joined efforts through the Learning Metrics Task Force to shift the focus of education discussions from universal access to primary education to access plus learning. With input from more than 1,700 individuals in 118 countries, the task force has developed a series of recommendations to use both existing assessments of learning and new measures to improve the opportunities and outcomes of all children.
“Learning serves as the foundation for all of the priorities in the run-up to 2015—from better livelihoods to climate change. So it is critical to identify a clear set of indicators that can be tracked globally in order to monitor progress and hold ourselves to account in improving the learning outcomes and opportunities of all children and youth,” says UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “As highlighted by the task force, data alone will not solve the problem. But reliable data does empower us to better target policies and resources required to deliver on the promise of education.”
Entitled, Toward Universal Learning: Recommendations from the Learning Metrics Task Force, the new report was released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. It presents a framework identifying seven domains of learning that all children and youth should have the opportunity to master no matter where they live.
The report also presents key indicators to track learning at the global level and monitor progress in foundational skills such as literacy and numeracy as well as a wider range of areas. In particular, the task force calls for new global indicators to include “readiness to learn” in early childhood, skills and values for youth to be successful “citizens of the world,” and a “learning for all” indicator that would combine measures of access, completion and reading into one statistic.
Finally, the task force calls for coordinated action by all education and development stakeholders to make learning and reliable data on learning outcomes a global priority. It serves as a blueprint for tackling the technical, political and institutional changes required to ensure young people develop the skills they need for their future lives and livelihoods.
* UNESCO. 2012. Education for All: Global Monitoring Report—Youth and Skills, Putting Education to Work, Paris, UNESCO
Amy Otchet, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, +1 514 343 79 33, a.otchet(at)unesco.org
Mao-Lin Shen, The Brookings Institution, +1 202 797 6421, mshen(at)brookings.edu