Position Paper on the POST-2015 Education Indicators

Concerning the Post-2015 Education Indicators proposed by the TAG (Technical Advisory Group) of UNESCO we, the NGO Platform on the Right to Education, would like to make the following remarks.

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General Comments: Concerning the indicators used for the Post-2015 Education Indicators, we think a Human Rights based approach is essential, as development cannot be disconnected from human rights. In other terms, Education cannot just be seen as a tool for Sustainable Development, but as a right. The fact that education is a right has some consequences such as their protection by the rule of law, as the preamble of the Universal Declaration states, allowing citizens to claim it in case of unfulfillment. The importance of a Human Rights – based approach is widely recognized as the most pertinent way to monitor implementation of education as a fundamental component of development. We would have been glad to see reflected the work done so far by OHCHR on Indicators on Human Rights[1] and the “The Right to Education: Law and Policy Review Guidelines”[2] recently published by UNESCO. The only mention of legislation is within the indicator 26 concerning the real existence of nine years of free and compulsory basic education.

We would like to make two concrete suggestions concerning this approach:

Firstly, we propose the inclusion of structural indicators as in page 26 of the UNESCO document “The Right to Education: Law and Policy Review Guidelines” cited above. One example is the Constitutional Guarantees for Universal Primary Education.

Secondly, we propose the inclusion of three indicators taken from the OHCHR document, which particularly makes reference to civil society’s role:

Date of entry into force and coverage of domestic law on the freedom of the individuals and groups (including minorities) to establish and direct educational institutions

-Number of registered and/or active NGOs (per 100000 persons) involved in the promotion and protection of the right to education.

-Number of institutions of ethnic, linguistic minority and religious population groups recognized or given public support.[3]

5.1 – Early Childhood: We think that without any indicator of measurement it is impossible to assess implementation. If some indicators cannot be included we would then suggest removing this part in order to focus more intensely on primary and secondary education.

 

5.2 – Primary and Secondary Education. We are concerned that the proposed indicators may minimize the essential content of quality education to only Mathematics and Reading. As stated by the Special Rapporteur of the Right to Education, Mr. Singh, a holistic approach of the right to education is broader than the narrow approach of performance evaluation of only mathematical, literacy and language skills and it broadens the assessment of the educational attainments of students to include all obligations relating to the right to education under international human rights law. We consider that the content of the article 29.1 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the content of article 13.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights should be included in Quality Education assessment.

The indicators 10, 11, 12 and 13 concern the results in different countries on reading and mathematics. However there is a reasonable doubt that these indicators are pertinent and comparable. In fact, it is not possible to use a comparison between the performance of countries with different languages tested.

We would like to highlight some issues concerning the comparability between countries:

-EGRA seems to compare easily the States tested in the same language, however there are some difficulties on doing this comparison due to the different uses of language (vocabulary and dialects that can differ).

-SACMEQ, TIMSS, PRILS, PISA and LLECE consider the international comparison as their main objective. However, there is a difference between the international and the regional surveys; while the first ones (TIMSS, PIRLS, PISA) show ranking of countries from the first pages, the second ones (SACMEQ, LLECE) have a less direct optic and are more focused on other factors.

-Finally, TIMSS, PIRLS and PISA do not permit to compare among situations where the language of learning is not the same one as the one used in the current activities.

The indicators concerning Primary and secondary education analyze the real application of the Education for All Steering Committee Target 2; which is “ By 2030, all girls and boys complete free and compulsory quality basic education of at least 9 years”. An indicator on the subject could be build from Article 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This article – signed by virtually all States- warns that each State “at the time of becoming a Party that has not been able to secure in its metropolitan territory or other territories under its jurisdiction compulsory primary education, free of charge, undertakes, within two years, to work out and adopt a detailed plan of action for the progressive implementation, within a reasonable number of years, to be fixed in the plan, of the principle of compulsory education free of charge for all”. The adoption of this plan of action in order to establish a compulsory primary education system free of charge is a good way to analyze the commitment of the States regarding the right to education under the terms of the EFA SC Target 2. Thus, we would like to see in the Post-2015 Education Indicators some concerning the implementation and existence of such plans in the different States Parties.

We would like to remark that beyond the inputs and outputs, it seems important to also have success indicators on the seven points of quality education as defined by the Learning Metrics Task Force.

5.3 – Skills: Concerning skills on the Post-2015 Indicators we do not think that they are limited to Technical and Vocational Education and Higher Education but are also relevant to early childhood, primary and secondary education. Actually, the Special Rapporteur of the Right to Education, Mr Singh, in his report entitled “Assessment of the educational attainment of students and the implementation of the right to education” (A/HRC/26/27) emphasizes this idea. Mr. Singh underlines the importance of skills development as an integral part of basic education and as a cornerstone particularly for developing countries to raise the aspirations of youth. Some Indicators on skills should then be included for primary and secondary education.

Furthermore indicators of Technical and Vocational Education and Higher Education should not only be focused on skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. They also should take into consideration the humanistic vision of education. As stated by the Special Rapporteur in the report A/67/310: “technical and vocational education and training is an integral part of the right to basic education”. In fact, TVET cannot be constrained to only higher education. Thereby, we would like to see indicators of Technical and Vocational Education and Higher Education in the Post-2015 Education Indicators concerning issues such as access, quality and the attainment rate.

 

5.4 – Equity: We are happy that the necessity of collecting disaggregated data (separated by gender) in the post 2015 targets on education is reflected in these indicators.

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5.6 – Global Citizenship and Sustainability. Regarding the content of Human Rights Education, or so called in this document Global citizenship and sustainability, indicators should be included to better reflect the commitments of the States. HRE 2020[4] for example developed an Indicators Framework to analyse whether and how HRE is implemented in different domains such as: Legislation and policy, Curriculum, Teaching and learning materials, Learner assessment and evaluation program and Teachers training.

We feel that Global Citizenship is a fundamental element of Human Rights Education and we would encourage implementation of both the UN Declaration of Human Rights Education and Training as well as the World Programme for Human Rights Education.

5.7 – School Environment: The need to secure the routes to school and the schools themselves, improve infrastructure and recruit well-qualified female teachers is also of importance in that while governments are facilitating adapted infrastructure development and national educational planning, girls benefit. Because of that we would like to see some indicators concerning these issues.

[1] OHCHR (2012) Indicators on Human Rights New York – Geneva http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Human_rights_indicators_en.pdf

[2] The Right to Education: Law and Policy Review Guidelines (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002284/228491e.pdf )

[3] OHCHR, p.105

[4]http://www.hre2020.org/sites/default/files/HRET%20Indicators_long%20form%20Dec%202014.pdf

4th international Conference on School Choice and Reform – Fort Lauderdale:

These last days I’ve been in 4th International Conference on School Choice and Reform in Fort Lauderdale (Miami). This event was sponsored by the Journal of School Choice, it was hosted by the National Institute for Educational Options at Nova Southeastern University and in cooperation with the European Association for Education Law and Policy. Among all the sponsors of the conference we can underline the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Alliance for School Choice, HSLDA or the Heritage Foundation.

This conference was a big and unique opportunity to know about the last investigations and research concerning School Choice. Many subjects related to School Choice were considered from different approaches (legal, sociologically, economically, politically…).Untitled1

Thanks to this conference we learned a lot on the most important legal aspects of the US educational system, especially that education is almost exclusively a State competency – not a federal one. We also learned a lot on the similarities with other education systems, and particularly that many disputes concerned the separation of State and Church.

That Conference was also a good opportunity for OIDEL to learn on the last research concerning school choice, allowing us to know more about the strengths and advantages of school choice as well as about the inefficiencies and failures of these systems and how to improve them. For instance, there is evidence that many low-income families are not benefiting from school choice systems due to the different motivations and needs of middle-class and high-income families. However, if the educational policies consider these different needs when developing School Choice systems, they involve all parents in the elaboration of these policies and they train them on how to choose school education. Thus School Choice becomes the best practice to empower low-income families.

It was really interesting for us to learn about different and new ways of developing School Choice policies and that there is no unique way of developing School Choice. We can consider now new original ways to develop freedom of education policies. For instance, in the state of Florida companies can deduct donations (to churches, schools, foundations…) from the taxes they have to pay. Many NGOs and associations of civil society have organized themselves in order to persuade these companies to make donations for the creation of Charter schools and subsidize enrollment fees of poor kids in order for them to be able to attend this schools. This successful policy has allowed almost 50% of children to attend Charter Schools in the state of Florida.

One of the best inputs of the Conference was the unique platform it was for networking between people working in the domain of the right to education and freedom of education, to share experience, projects and research. Coordination among all actors working in this field is in fact essential.

Ignasi Grau

2015… ¿y ahora qué?

Development, development y development; desarrollo sostenible, desarrollo de las poblaciones, vías para el desarrollo… Todo un abanico de adjetivos para acompañar al sustantivo clave que permanece invariable.

Hace ya tiempo que uno de los ejes centrales de las políticas y recomendaciones económico-sociales en Naciones Unidas es, precisamente, la agenda para el desarrollo. Desde hace tres años se ha venido construyendo una agenda que ha recibido el nombre de “Post 2015” y que se ha configurado como la hoja de ruta en las venideras políticas ECOSOC de NNUU. Sin embargo, el escepticismo crece por momentos y mucho se preguntan si realmente todo lo planificado va a servir de algo. En efecto, ¿vamos a conseguir implementar alguna cosa teniendo en cuenta esta especie de “crisis del sistema de NNUU” de la que hablan algunos expertos?

La respuesta no es afirmativa ni negativa. Haciendo gala de un marcado galleguismo, la respuesta no puede ser otra que un tibio: depende. La agenda será aplicable (y con éxito), pero siempre y cuando se lleven a cabo una serie de reformas internas. El recién editado Post-2015 UN Development: making change happen? se aproxima por varios flancos a lo que, a juicio de los autores, deberían ser los cambios en NNUU. Recogemos aquí algunos de los puntos y testimonios de diversos de los co-autores de la obra, siempre teniendo presente las palabras que Michael Møller, director general de la oficina de Naciones Unidas en Ginebra, nos trasladó poco antes de las fiestas navideñas: “Naciones Unidas no sólo necesita ser reformada: necesita ser reestructurada”. Lo que buscamos es un cambio profundo en el engranaje y funcionamiento de la organización.

El profesor Thomas G. Weiss, co-editor del libro, pone el acento en la necesidad de aumentar la eficiencia de NNUU. Se requiere un mayor consenso y comunicación entre las “tres UNs” –governanza, funcionariado internacional y el cajón amplio en el que entrarían el resto de trabajadores como los dedicados al media y comunicación. Para ello señala las cinco C’s que, a su entender, se están produciendo en el seno de la ONU: crisis de competitividad, crisis de coherencia (falta de ella), crisis de cooptación, crisis de capacidad y crisis de complacencia. Parece imposible que el sistema de NNUU vuelva a obtener la confianza de la gente y aumente su eficiencia si estas batallas no se ponen como prioridad en su agenda interna.

La antigua directora del Programa para el Desarrollo de NNUU, Cécile Molinier, es mucho más directa y hace una síntesis de lo que para ella han sido los motivos que han llevado al fracaso de las reformas: la inexistencia de una autoridad central (lo que lleva a un poder difuminado o, a efectos prácticos, la ausencia del mismo), la inexistencia de una financiación centralizada, y un crecimiento basado en la proliferación de mandatos, sin visión central. De nuevo, observamos una fragmentación o parcialización del poder que lleva a la incapacidad de la organización para llevar a cabo grandes proyectos desde una visión conjunta. La profesora Molinier apuesta por una recentralización que permita maniobrar con eficiencia.

Desde la vertiente del sector privado, la perspectiva de Richard Golding, ex socio de la consultora PricewaterhouseCoopers, se dirige más hacia la necesidad de transparencia y, sobre todo, responsabilidad (una accountability real, que permita valorar y comparar, ver los costes de oportunidad y calcular los beneficios de las acciones). Quizás, como corolario, parezca adecuado señalar la pregunta que el otro co-editor del libro, Stephen Brown, lanzó a la audiencia en la presentación de la obra en diciembre pasado: “¿Por qué no nombrar un Director General para el Desarrollo, con poder y autoridad reales y efectivos?”.

Los desafío son muchos, pero la voluntad de cambio y mejora están muy extendidos en la mayoría de los que conforman Naciones Unidas, los organismos que la orbitan y las ONGs que la nutren y enriquecen. 2015 ha llegado, ¡qué mejor momento para ponerse a trabajar en ello!

El equipo de OIDEL les desea un feliz año 2015.

Jorge Valero