What’s top of the 2012 global education news?

By Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report

The tragic shooting in Pakistan of Malala in the name of girls’ education, the rebuilding of education in South Sudan one year after independence and in Haiti two years after its devastating earthquake all featured in the Education for All Global Monitoring Report’s top 10 blog posts of 2012. The 10 most-read posts also highlighted messages of the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report, notably on the importance of skills for rural young women, and lessons from Germany on bridging the gap between school and work.

Haiti 2011 © UNESCO:E. Abramson
Rebuilding schools after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti.

Our most read blog of 2012 presented new data on literacy, showing that 775 million adults are still unable to read or write, leaving many countries unlikely to achieve the Education for All goal of halving illiteracy by 2015 [1. Literacy rates are rising – but not fast enough]. The goal for adult literacy has seen the slowest advances over the past decade.

As our 2012 Report shows, progress across all six education goals has stagnated, raising fears that education is slipping down the global agenda. At a time when the international community begins to plan a post-2015 framework it is vital to ensure that education is given its rightful place by showing how education makes a key contribution to all areas of development.

To inform debates on post-2015 frameworks, another of our top 10 blogs provided evidence on the links between education and development for the Rio+20 meeting on sustainable development that took place in June this year [4. Let’s not forget 61 million out-of-school children at Rio+20]. We will be providing new evidence to support further the case for education in the 2013 GMR – you can find out more and join our consultation here.

A key reason for stalled progress in reaching universal primary education is that the 61 million children who remain out of school are among the hardest to reach. In 2012, the GMR team developed a new interactive website, the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE), to show who these children are and where they live. WIDE was released to coincide with the launch of the UN Secretary General’s global initiative for education, Education First. Our blog on WIDE illustrates the need to make greater progress in narrowing education inequalities, a concern that needs to feature strongly in a post-2015 framework [6. The World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) – a new visualization tool to measure marginalization]. Drawing on data in WIDE, another of our most-read blogs identifies the worst places for girls’ education, with Pakistan featuring in the bottom 10 countries [8. The bottom ten countries for female education].

Our recently published 2012 Report found that 200 million young people in developing countries have not even completed primary school. Several blogs in the top 10 explored the reasons behind this, including the fact that rural women miss out the most due to discrimination both in education and labour markets [5. Rural women miss out on education — and decent jobs]. Our 2012 Report identified many successful programmes aimed at providing young women a second chance in education combined with assets to give them opportunities to set up businesses and so overcome disadvantage at work too.

The 2012 Report showed that it was not just in poor countries that young people lack skills. High levels of unemployment in countries such as Spain and the United Kingdom are partly a reflection of young people leaving before completing secondary school and, for those who stay, lacking opportunities to gain relevant skills. Another of our top 10 blogs highlights the fact that Germany’s tradition of companies working with schools to ensure that young people gain relevant skills is a secret of its success in keeping unemployment low even during times of economic austerity [9. Can the ‘German model’ bridge the skills gap elsewhere?]. It is not just a question of what skills are needed, but also how skills develop, as argued in a guest blog in the top 10 by Helen Abadzi of the Global Partnership for Education [7. How do skills develop? Cognitive neuroscience offers some insights].

While much more needs to be done, the beginnings of the rebuilding of education systems in Haiti and South Sudan offer signs of hope [3. Education rises – slowly – from Haiti’s rubble; 10. In South Sudan, many girls are missing out on school]. To ensure children and young people are given the opportunities they need and deserve and to ensure lasting peace and prosperity, it will be vital for education to remain top priorities in these and other countries that are emerging from conflict or natural disasters.

And, finally, my New Year’s wishes for the year featured in the top 10 blogs of 2012 [2. Education for All: Three New Year’s wishes]. Tune in again in the new year to hear my hopes for 2013 – no doubt one of my 2012 wishes on putting education at the centre of development will remain a priority for the coming year!

The GMR team is extremely grateful to all our readers for your engagement, comments and feedback. We look forward to ongoing collaboration in 2013 as we work with increased urgency to accelerate progress towards the Education for All goals by 2015, and to help develop a post-2015 framework. We wish you a very enjoyable festive season and happy New Year!



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