Accountability in education : Meeting our Commitments. Global Education Monitoring Report 2017/8
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There are today 264 million children and youth not going to school – this is a failure that we must tackle together, because education is a shared responsibility and progress can only be sustainable through common efforts. This is essential to meet the ambitions of Sustainable Development Goal on education (SDG 4), part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Governments, schools and teachers have a frontline role to play here, hand-in-hand with students themselves and parents. Moving forward requires having clear lines of responsibility, knowing when and where those lines are broken and what action is required in response – this is the meaning of accountability, the focus of this Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report. The conclusion is clear – the lack of accountability risks jeopardizing progress, allowing harmful practices become embedded in education systems. For one, the absence of clearly-designed education plans by Governments can blur roles and mean that promises will remain empty and policies not funded. When public systems do not provide an education of sufficient quality, and for-profit actors fill the gap but operate without regulations, the marginalized lose out. Governments are the primary duty bearers for the right to education, yet this right is not justiciable in almost half of countries, and the primary course of action for those with a complaint is lost. Everyone has a role to play in improving education. This starts with citizens, supported by civil society organisations and research institutions, who point out gaps in quality, equitable education. In a number of countries, student movements have often swayed policies on equitable and affordable education, highlighting the power that we all share and must exercise to advance SDG 4. International organisations have been in the lead also in shaping new goals and targets in line with the complex challenges of our times. The Report shows also that not all accountability methods are currently helping us achieve SDG 4. In some parts of the world, it is becoming more common, for instance, for teachers and schools to be sanctioned for poor test results, in the name of purported attempts to improve quality instruction and learning. The Report concludes this must be approached with great caution to avoid having unintended, contrary consequences. There is extensive evidence showing that high-stakes tests based on narrow performance measures can encourage efforts to ‘game the system,’ negatively impacting on learning and disproportionately punishing the marginalised. It is vital to collect data on learning outcomes, to shed light on factors that drive inequality in education. But drawing precise conclusions requires time, resources and skills that few countries have, and drawing the wrong conclusions can be all too easy.
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