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

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.

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English / Français / Español / Русский /  العربية / 中文 


Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development

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.

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Education for people & planet

Gender equality and inequality concern how people live their daily lives, their relationships, choices, decisions and the freedom they do or do not have to live a life they value. Gender equality is a matter of social justice and human rights. It drives development progress. It is vital for achieving peaceful, inclusive, resilient and just societies.

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

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. 


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No more excuses: Provide education to all forcibly displaced people

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

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. 


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Every Child Should Have a Textbook

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.

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