UAE has good ideas for measuring, monitoring strategies in education

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On Sunday, UNESCO officially launched its Arabic language Global Education Monitoring Report on the sidelines of the World Government Summit 2017.

The report is the first in a 15-year series and will analyse each of the 10 targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) 2030, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

Speaking at the launch, Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO presented Hussain Al Hamadi, UAE Minister of Education with the report.

“We are working hard to put education at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. Education can save lives, strengthen social inclusion, and provide social sustainability,” she said.

With ongoing conflicts negatively impacting childhood education opportunities in the region, this indepth Arabic report couldn’t have come at a more critical time.

According to Bokova, 15-29-year-olds make up a third of the population in the region, with under 15’s making up another third.

“16.5 million children are out of school in Arab States, and it is this conflict that is creating havoc on the education system,” she said.

And in recent years, the percentage of children out of school in the region has risen from 63 per cent to 91 per cent – 60 per cent of which are female.

“It is vital we move towards societies that are inclusive and knowledge-based for help,” Bokova added.

The current target projections for the Education commitments of SDG4 have a 2030 deadline, but speaking to Khaleej Times, Mr Arraon Benavot, Report Director said if we continue the trends in this region, “we will only achieve universal primary education by 2042, and universal secondary education by 2084”.

“Now this is alarming,” he said.

So how can we achieve the 2030 Agenda, looking from a local perspective?

Benavot said it is working closely with education ministries – including the UAE – to collate better data, as this is a fundamental issue when putting reports like this together.

Although he said the gathering of statistical data is not yet at its strongest in the UAE, positive steps are being taken to alleviate the issue.

“Different countries in the Gulf region including the UAE already have, and should continue to embark on new measurement and monitoring strategies.”

At a regional and sub-regional level, he said there could be meetings where these kinds of innovations are presented more frequently, where good practices can be discussed.

“The fact of the matter is the UAE and other small-scale countries have some really good ideas, they just need to be worked on.”

In some cases the size of these countries works in their favour, he said, because if you’re interested in gathering information about higher institutions here for example, it is a manageable job, compared to somewhere like the US where institutions are in there thousands.

“Smallness can be a real benefit when collecting the necessary data that is needed to continue producing these reports,” he said.

And Bokova agreed: “To meet the demands of the Agenda 2030, we need greater resources and integrated policies. We need a global movement for education.”

Read report in full: http://en.unesco.org/gem-report/

Report Recommendations:

For education to be transformative in support of the new sustainable development agenda, ‘education as usual’ will not suffice

1. Collaborate across sectors
2. Governments need to view formal and informal education and training as a key to their efforts in tackling cross-sector problems
3. Education Ministries and Ministries of Labour should work together to reduce income inequality
4. Education systems needs increased and predictable financing
5. Improve equity
6. Change the focus of education: a) In developing skills policies, consider both medium- and long-term needs and the implications of sustainable growth
b) Civic, peace and sustainability education programmes can be important levers for SDG progress

STATS: Education in numbers:

1/3 of population in Arab region aged 15-29 years

1/3 of population are under 15

16.5 million children are out of school in Arab States

Percentage of children out of school in region has risen from 63% to 91%

60% of children out of school are female

2084 – the year SDG4 goals will be met if education trends continue in region – that’s 54 years off the 2030 target

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