World Poverty Could Be More than Halved if All Adults Finish Secondary School

By Aaron Benavot, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report, and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

In a few weeks, the UN High-Level Political Forum will gather to discuss poverty eradication as a cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Agenda. Debates over how to tackle entrenched poverty often centre on different political ideologies. For some, the answer may be the pursuit of free-market economic growth, in the hope that some of the wealth generated will ‘trickle down’. For others, the answer may be social and economic interventions aimed at levelling the playing field, where everyone has something, even if that something is – at best – meagre. Continue reading

The Pressure is On! Powering Ahead with the Technical Cooperation Group for SDG 4 – Education 2030 Indicators

By Silvia Montoya and Jordan Naidoo, Co-Chairs of the TCG

This blog was originally published by Norrag.

The pressure is on! This is the conclusion of the recent meeting of the Technical Cooperation Group (TCG) on SDG 4 – Education 2030 Indicators. While discussions covered a range of issues, the question on everyone’s mind was how we will measure learning globally given the tremendous gaps in data, methodology and capacity-building. For example, only 32% of the developing countries receiving support from the Global Partnership for Education take part in learning assessments and their results cannot be compared globally.  Continue reading

A Roadmap with Workable Tools to Measure Learning Achievements Worldwide

By David Coleman, Senior Education Advisor, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (and Chair of the GAML Strategic Planning Committee), and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

This blog was originally published by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

Report from the third meeting of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (11-12 May)

The world community is that much closer to having answers to one of the most fundamental questions in education: who is – and who is not – meeting agreed educational standards?  The answer to this question will allow involved actors to more accurately respond and take action: how do we prioritize energy and resources to achieve learning for all?

Members of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) met recently in Mexico City to take the next set of steps in building a learning assessment roadmap.  Meeting members represented an impressive range of multilateral, regional, bilateral, civil society, research and technical agencies.

The ultimate goal: Improved learning worldwide

GAML has two objectives: to support national strategies for learning assessment, and to ensure international reporting on the sustainable development goals by all UN Member States. The ultimate goal is improved learning worldwide.

GAML members at the Mexico meeting focused on achieving these twin objectives, and considered the decision-making processes and governance structures GAML will need to best support the ambitions of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

GAML’s work is critical in building a global consensus on the “minimum proficiency levels” students should reach at the Grade 2/3 level, at the end of primary, and at the end of lower secondary (SDG 4.1). The GAML partnership is playing an important technical coordination role across the breadth of SDG 4 targets and indicators with a learning focus.

GAML helps to harmonize assessment tools

This third GAML meeting was an opportunity to review progress on a range of tools and initiatives.  For example, the UIS is mapping the frameworks used by national learning assessments to bridge their differences and commonalities.

Other tools were discussed. To help countries with international reporting, the Evaluation of Alignment in Content (EAC) identifies the areas in which national and regional assessments align to a common reporting scale, enabled by the related Learning Progression Explorer.

And given the priority associated with SDG indicator 4.1.1 (minimum proficiency levels at three educational steps), the UIS presented a coding scheme to map mathematics assessment frameworks. A reading assessment framework is under development.

Progress reporting was provided on the Catalogue of Learning Assessments (CLA) tool, which has two modules: one to collect basic information on the assessments a country uses to monitor learning, and a second to collect the data produced by these learning assessments. A separate tool will be developed to evaluate the robustness of assessment systems and to identify capacity-building needs.

Ensuring good quality data on learning

GAML members also discussed the Assessment of Data Collection (ADC) process, which aims to ensure the quality of SDG 4 data. The ADC will be supported by assessment experts within countries and from regional networks and assessment agencies.

These experts will examine every aspect of a   learning assessment, from the sampling process, through the analysis of data stage, and on to the transparent communication of results. Best practice will, in turn, be defined by a Good Practice in Learning Assessment (GP-LA) tool.

The quality of global data depends directly on national data. So it is essential that countries are able to improve the quality of their data through capacity development, supported by the standards and tools developed by GAML.

GAML itself, as a meeting point of a wide range of involved partners, needs to be clear and efficient in the tools it seeks to develop, and needs to communicate effectively with stakeholders from the school level to the global level on the best ways to assess learning.

The Alliance’s newly formed Strategic Planning Committee will have a key role in strengthening these governance, oversight and communications functions.

So what are the next steps?  The progress and recommendations emanating from the third GAML meeting have been presented to the Technical Coordination Group (TCG) on SDG 4 – Education 2030 Indicators, which will in turn report to the Education 2030 Steering Committee in June.

The next GAML meeting is scheduled for late October. In the meantime, GAML members, and particularly GAML taskforces, will be busy working on the tools to support one of humanity’s most cherished goals: learning for all.

The World’s Families: Hidden Funders of Education

By Friedrich Huebler and Elise Legault, Programme Specialists at the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

This blog was also published by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

We know too little about education finance: where the money for education comes from, where it goes, and whether it is spent effectively. Drawing on today’s major release of new data, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) shows that even the most robust government data on education spending misses out a crucial part of the financing equation: the money spent by households on the education of their children. Continue reading

Countries, Experts and Agencies Meet to Measure Progress Towards Education 2030

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics
This article was published on the World Education Blog.

Given the time it can take to mobilize around development goals and establish effective monitoring systems to track progress, the 2030 deadline for the achievement of the global goal on education is just around the corner. Nevertheless, there are times when it is wise to pause for a moment and take stock. With crucial meetings of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) and the Technical Coordination Group on SDG 4 (TCG) in the coming weeks, this is just such a moment. Continue reading

Helping Countries Improve their Data on Out-of-School Children

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, and Karen Mundy, Chief Technical Officer at the Global Partnership for Education

In many ways, education indicators are like a satellite navigation system that can help us reach our destination: Sustainable Development Goal 4. Based on the data, policymakers in the driving seat can select the best route and adjust their direction and speed as they progress or hit a roadblock. Ultimately, the success of the education system relies to some degree on the accuracy of the data used to inform decisions about how to best use resources to achieve goals. Continue reading

We Need a Paradigm Shift in Education Data to Build the Learning Generation

By Bridget Crumpton, Senior Advisor of the Education Commission, and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Ambitious goals demand more and better data, which is why the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators is meeting today in Ottawa. Experts from countries and international agencies including the UNESCO Institute for Statistics are once again reviewing the frameworks and work plans needed to help deliver on the pledges made for 2030.  The good news is that just about everyone agrees on the strength and value of the education indicators. The challenges lie in producing them and disseminating them in a way that they are actively used. Continue reading