A Global Compact on Learning: Taking Action on Education in Developing Countries
This report by the Brookings Institution, argues that increased efforts are required in education and that the global education paradigm should be expanded towards the goal of 'learning for all' as the new minimum threshold to which the international community must aspire. In recognising progress made in past years, driven in particular by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) movement, it states that globally there is a learning crisis which disproportionately affects the poorest and most marginalised children. The report proposes that a Global Compact on Learning would provide both a framework and a series of clearly identifiable steps for achieving this vision.
Argument for a Global Compact
The report states that the global learning crisis, which disproportionately affects the poorest, most marginalized children and youth, has three dimensions.
1. Millions of children and youth still lack access to learning opportunities including, some never enter let alone complete. Most often, children living in poverty are the most educationally marginalized.
2. Those in school often do not acquire a quality education and miss out on attaining the foundational skills—including literacy and numeracy— which would enable them to successfully continue in school.
3. Few children make it beyond primary school, secondary education largely benefits the wealthiest 20 % of the population.
The report states that the case for a new Global Compact on Learning is both urgent and compelling. It argues that education is quite literally a life-or-death issue as a child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to survive past age five. Education is also the key to poverty reduction, economic growth, and greater stability. The report states that we cannot afford to wait another generation to ensure that all children are learning and equipped with the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to live healthy, safe, and productive lives.
The report’s key priorities are:
(1) early childhood development, (2) literacy and numeracy in lower primary grades, and (3) relevant post-primary education opportunities.
Global compact vs MDGs
The agenda offered by the Global compact is broader than the education MDGs, which are necessary but not sufficient for achieving quality learning for all. The compact is not exhaustive but identifies education priorities and corresponding strategies that are important across many developing countries for improving learning opportunities and outcomes.
The answer - “Learning for all”
Responses should be highly context specific and each country should assess the relevance of the key priorities and identify the best ways to pursue an equitable learning agenda for its own citizens. “Learning for all” should be the new goal driving the global education agenda. This refers to both universal access and quality services based on evidence including data which reveals that, particularly in low-income countries, quality and equity are the major challenges.
The right of every child to a high-quality education is affirmed in numerous human rights treaties and recognized by governments, as exemplified in the six EFA goals adopted by 164 nations eleven years ago in Dakar. Although access to learning opportunities is essential, evidence around the world has shown that it is not sufficient to meet the actual goal of education—that every girl and boy should make the transition to adulthood equipped with the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to live a healthy, safe, and productive life.
The new “Global Compact on Learning” provides a broad framework to catalyze and sustain targeted, coordinated action among a wide range of actors, including those outside the education sector, on improving learning opportunities and outcomes for all children and youth, especially the poorest and most marginalized. The Compact seeks to capitalise on the growing support for learning for all amongst grass-roots organisations in developing countries and major aid donors. The Compact calls on all actors, in developed and developing country contexts to work together to achieve the three priorities of, a) helping children get an early start on learning in life, b) ensure basic literacy and numeracy are learnt in school, c) provide children with relevant skills for their lives and livelihoods.
To access the complete report see here