The 2020 GEM Report will be on Inclusion and Education

At the end of last week, the GEM Report’s Advisory Board met in Paris to discuss the success of the 2016 GEM Report, hear about the plans for the 2017/8 and 2019 GEM Reports, and decide on the future theme of the 2020 GEM Report. A consensus was reached on the theme: Inclusion and Education.


The desire to leave no one behind permeates the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Two of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are dedicated to addressing inclusion: A goal on gender equality and empowerment of all girls and women (SDG 5) and one on reducing disparities between and within countries (SDG 10). There is also an unprecedented global commitment to using disaggregated data to monitor gaps and inequalities, in education and other sectors. Disaggregated information is critical to identifying populations who never exercised their right to education, who left school before completing a full cycle, and who did not succeed in acquiring key foundational and transferable skills.

The GEM Report has long taken an equity, pro-inclusive perspective when monitoring progress towards global education goals. Our team has shown that the poorest children are four times more likely to be out of primary school than richest children. An estimated one-third of all out-of-school children at the primary level have a disability. Aggregated analysis from 51 countries found a 10 percentage point gap in primary completion rates between people with and without disability, which is likely an underestimate. About 40% of people around the world are not taught in a language they speak or understand.

In 2010 the GEM Report established the World Inequality Database on Education, WIDE to highlight in countries, who is adversely affected, and through what processes, in order to contribute to policy formulation and resource allocation. Data from this source show the extent to which disadvantage and marginalization undermine success in education progress. They indicate how overlapping disadvantages sometimes create almost unsurmountable barriers for those trying to learn at school or university or through adult training and education programs.

We know that if current policies remain in place, all groups will not enjoy the benefits of education by 2030. New strategies and policies must be adopted to ensure access to the 263 million children, adolescents and youth who are out of primary and secondary school; the 758 million adults lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills; and millions more who, despite having been to school, experienced little improvement in their learning levels and employment prospects.

3.jpgDeciding on the theme of future GEM Reports is one of the core responsibilities of its Advisory Board. This Board is made up of representatives from UN multilateral agencies, bilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and networks, directors of UNESCO education Institutes and individuals from developing countries in all world regions with an expertise in education issues. It is currently chaired by Jeffrey Sachs, UN Special Advisor on the Sustainable Development Goals

Along with deciding on the theme of the 2020 Report, the Board also advised on useful partners for the dissemination of the 2016, 2017/8 and 2019 Reports. They advised on effective strategies for outreach around the 2017/8 Report due out this October on Accountability and Education. And they gave constructive input into the content of the 2019 Report on migration and education.

The last point on the agenda was to discuss the Terms of Reference for an independent evaluation of the GEM Report, which will take place at the end of this year. This is a triennial practice, which helps the GEM Report to hold itself to account, and continue to improve itself in its content, outreach, and policy-impact.



  1. Once again early childhood development and pre-primary education are completely left put of the analysis…which is where exclusion and disparities start. The gaps between the included and excluded at that level are often even higher than at other levels…so why is it completely ignored?

  2. I would like to draw an attention to another group of excluded population and one of the most marginalized groups, which very few people are talking about – education for prisoners. Education 2030 is about “inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all” not only for children, girls, disabled, refugees, and language minorities. UIL and CONFINTEA addressed this issue, but not enough. UNESCO Dakar recently organized a national consultation on this topic. We need a lot of support in this area to build a peaceful, just and sustainable society. Please see the link:

  3. Great to see inclusion as part of a 2020 vision! It has to be about high quality experiences and outcomes and not only presence. We need to continue to push forward with Article 24 from UNCRPD too.

  4. With so many adults seeking education and knowing the process, how is it there are unsurmountable barriers for those trying to learn? Absolutely the numbers are shocking to read about and there has to be a revision to the current plan in place prior to 2030. Education is extremely urgent in our society and there has to be a way to prevent and/or close the gaps in higher education.

  5. Inclusion is not equivalent to inclusive education and inclusive education is often understood to be the inclusion of learners with disabilities. Ensuring all are included is not the same as ensuring that the education system that has been transformed to fit the learner/s rather than the learner being forced to fit the system. We need to learn a lot more about classroom, school and system transformation to move the needle in greater progress toward realizing the vision of inclusive education. As a first step, let’s make sure we all have a shared lexicon and understanding of terms. Sheldon, I am with you on the ECE!

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