Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Post-2015 Blog Week: 'Trained teachers for all must be a priority' by Caroline Pearce, Global Campaign for Education

Caroline Pearce is Head of Policy at Global Campaign for Education,  a civil society movement that aims to end the global education crisis. Here she examines current progress on education and outlines what must be done to improve this after 2015.

Education is sometimes seen as one of the successes of the Millennium Development Goals. Even though the targets – universal primary education by 2015 (MDG 2) and gender parity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005 (MDG 3) – will not be met by 2015, nevertheless huge progress has been made. In 2000, there were 100 million children of primary school age out of school, and by 2010 this had fallen to 61 million, even as populations rose. There are now at least nine girls for every 10 boys in primary schools in every region of the world (although that’s not the case at secondary level). Progress has been possible because of campaigners around the world using the MDGs to hold governments to account; the Global Campaign for Education (GCE)’s member coalitions in 96 countries have been very active in reminding governments – both south and north – of their promises

But, clearly, this progress still leaves huge gaps. The gaps are even more striking when we look at the other commitments to realize the right to education made in 2000: the six goals agreed in the Dakar Framework For Action on Education For All. As well as the two education goals included in the MDGs, these targets included expansion of early childhood care and education, access to skills and training for young people and adults, significant improvements in adult literacy rates (especially for women), and improvement in the quality of education. Donor governments also promised that “no countries seriously committed to Education for All will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources”.

The education quality goal has become a subject of particular scrutiny: it has long been a concern for GCE members, and is now getting increasing political attention. The latest research suggests that between a quarter and three quarters of children in the lowest income countries cannot read after two or even three years of school. GCE believes that this is because a crucial element has been missing: trained teachers for all. Getting children into school is only half the struggle; we must also put the same effort into ensuring that they all have a well-trained teacher. We are still 1.7 million teachers short of the number needed for universal primary education by 2015, and in Africa, only half of all the teachers who are in schools have little or no training. Given donors’ promise on financing, there is no excuse for this continuing gap.

GCE is still consulting with its members on the post-2015 framework for education. But it is very clear that any future agreement must not neglect the promises already made, both in the MDGs and in the Education For All framework.

(photo: Global Campaign for Education)
It must also be rooted in an understanding of human rights – which implies both equity, and the responsibility of states and the international community. Human rights are essentially indivisible, and as an example, we can see this in the way that failure to realize the right to water and sanitation can block access to the right to education. When girls have to go a long distance to fetch water (and it is usually girls), that can keep them out of school; and when there are no adequate sanitation facilities in schools, that can make them drop out (particularly when they reach puberty). A collective demand for the recognition and equitable realization of universal rights must be at the heart of our post-2015 demands.

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