By Hannah-May Wilson, Senior Technical Consultant, PAL Network
When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were drafted in 2015, there was broad agreement that the new global goals needed to evolve from measuring increased access, investment in infrastructure and reporting average learning gains, to measuring learning with a focus on the most disadvantaged children. The focus on ensuring that no child is left behind is crucial. Evidence from many low-income countries shows that learning inequalities are visible before children even start school, primarily driven by disparities in wealth. When wealth disparities interact with other forms of disadvantage such as gender, geographic location, disability, and ethnic and linguistic minority status, they reinforce and exacerbate disadvantage, with the consequence that disadvantaged children have little chance of ever catching up.
Failure to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education in many low-income countries, coupled with the uncomfortable fact that millions of children who are in school are not learning the basics, have resulted in a ‘global learning crisis’ affecting more than one-half of all children and adolescents, according to estimates from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). The new data have set alarm bells ringing and are the central focus of the 2018 World Bank Development Report. The eye-watering fact is that today, of the 617 million children and adolescents worldwide not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, two-thirds are in school. Continue reading