The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has proposed a set of standards that would measure the global progress of education for the next generation of students.
The organization’s Technical Advisory Group developed 42 “thematic indicators” as educational goals that UNESCO expects to be met by 2030, which is why “Education 2030” has been adopted as the name of the initiative. The report listing all 42 indicators, entitled Proposed Thematic Indicators for a Post-2015 Education Agenda, can be found in PDF form in multiple languages on the UNESCO website.
Their overarching goal is stated to be to “Ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
Dian Schaffhauser of Campus Technology writes that the 42 indicators are grouped into several general categories. The categories include making sure that all boys and girls get equal access to both primary and secondary education and quality early childhood care; giving men and women the opportunity to receive affordable technical, vocational, and/or tertiary education; and making classooms (including the physical structure) friendly to all students, including those from underprivileged groups, like indigenous peoples and the disabled.
UNESCO also wants countries globally to work on improving adult literacy rates; to encourage sustainable global values like human rights, non-violence, environmentalism, and appreciation of cultural diversity; and to expand the number of scholarships available to those in developing countries.
UNESCO is intent on increasing the number of people attending higher education and to increase the number of well-trained and quality teachers at all levels. The group plans on prioritizing these indicators at a later date, and selecting a smaller number on which to focus implementation.
The recommendations were developed based on input from 200 organizations and individuals from 67 countries between November 2014 and January 2015, writes Schaffhauser for THE Journal. During this period of public appraisal, they gathered large amounts of feedback, in part from soliciting comments from the general public via the internet, and resulting in changes to the policies.
However, Education 2030 faces a problem when it comes to measuring these indicators — when nations have different systems, different metrics, and different educational needs, how will UNESCO measure whether these goals are being met? Literacy and numeracy can be measured relatively well across national borders, but the group recognizes that these are not the only goals of education, and encourages the development of metrics suited to measure Education 2030’s other goals.
More discussion about Education 2030, and these questions in particular, will take place at meetings held by the United Nations Statistical Commission in November 2015 and March 2016.