Source: Small Island Developing States
3 December 2018: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute of Statistics (UIS) launched a publication on monitoring education outcomes, on the sidelines of the Global Education Meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Referring to a “global learning crisis,” UIS highlighted that many countries lack robust monitoring to track learning outcomes, and that schools worldwide are failing to provide many students with basic literacy and mathematical skills.
The SDG 4 Data Digest presents UIS’ framework for monitoring and data harmonization, provides information about the range of national and cross-national learning assessments currently being conducted, and describes country experiences. UIS points to the global learning crisis as representing three kinds of problems: lack of access to schooling; failure to keep children in school; and poor quality of education in schools. Inequality is at the heart of the global learning crisis, said UIS Director Silvia Montoya, noting that it affects 617 million children and adolescents, and impedes development.
Based on available evidence, the Digest reports that countries have a long way to go to meet the aspirations of SDG 4 for quality education. The Data Digest focuses especially on learning in the primary and lower secondary school years, and on the acquisition of digital skills. The report notes that while monitoring of literacy and mathematical skills is relatively well established, less work has been done on the measurement of other aspects of learning, such as early childhood development (SDG target 4.2) and work skills in the adult population (SDG target 4.4).
The Data Digest cites the work of several organizations and initiatives that are engaged in monitoring achievements toward SDG 4, including the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) and the Technical Cooperation Group on the Indicators for SDG 4 – Education 2030 (TCG). GAML is developing internationally-comparable indicators, tools and methods for measuring learning outcomes, and is supporting countries to assess their own progress. UNESCO notes the high cost to countries of participating in international learning assessments, but suggests this should be seen as a valuable investment, which potentially improves education spending efficiency by US$30 million a year “in the average country.”
UNESCO convened the high-level Global Education Meeting in Brussels to review progress toward SDG 4 in preparation for the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York. [UNESCO Press Release] [UIS Press Release] [Publication: SDG 4 Data Digest: Data to Nurture Learning] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Global Education Meeting]