Making participatory policies to change education systems and achieve Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals

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Still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, education systems around the world face a myriad of challenges. The world did not have enough teachers before the pandemic, but today the crisis is even worse. Overworked, overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated teachers (like nurses in many places) quit the profession. UNESCO estimates Tens of millions more are needed globally – from about 9,000 more in the Netherlands to 16.5 million in sub-Saharan Africa. The well-being of children has also been greatly affected. Child marriage is on the rise in countries in the Global South UNICEF appreciation Another 10 million girls are at risk of child marriage due to COVID-19. In the Global North, in particular, the pandemic has created a mental health crisis with the American Academy of Pediatrics Declaring it a US national emergency in October 2021.

Unsurprisingly, the lasting effects of the pandemic are also reaching academic learning. Many children, especially those with learning differences and from the most marginalized communities, lag far behind in mastering basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic. In low- and middle-income countries, learning poverty (percentage of 10-year-olds who are unable to read simple text) more due to the pandemic, from 57 percent before the pandemic to an estimated 70 percent in 2022. In the context of high-income countries in the United States, Stock gaps widened With eighth-grade students’ math proficiency scores dropping to levels not seen since 2000.

Given what educators and systems leaders face, many argue that stepping back from our ambition and focusing on bridging learning gaps in core academic skills, namely literacy and numeracy, should take center stage rather than maintaining our collective focus on developing lifelong learners envisioned in the Development Goals. sustainable 4. However, backing away from ambition is not the answer. Finding new and transformative ways to tackle a range of problems is. The danger of replacing the education goal of the SDGs with a more focused goal on literacy and numeracy, for example, is that although they will be framed as a ground to build on, education systems will steer around and ultimately treat them as the primary goal. The ceiling will become unintentionally. One has to look no further than the United Nations Millennium Development Goals which focused on access to primary school for boys and girls as a starting point for quality education, assuming that quality teaching and learning would follow. Instead, it became the ultimate goal as millions of children entered new schools and no learning occurred.

What we need is a serious attempt to achieve SDG 4 not by reforming the margins but by transforming systems so that deep gaps in equity and relevance are addressed simultaneously. One way to do this is to harness innovation and bring it to the systems center as we mentioned in 2018 in “Leaps in inequality: Remaking education to help young people thrive. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that education systems can indeed innovate in their core businesses. Many of the important innovations of the pandemic era have the potential to profoundly transform systems. For example, schools that meaningfully share power with families on how to best collaborate to educate children is an important innovation that will change systems. As our work at the Brookings Center for Global Education has shown, Schools with deep trust in the relationships between families and teachers are 10 times more likely to improve academic outcomes and student well-being. Maintaining this shift along with other new practices such as effectiveness Technology harness Incorporating a focus on students’ well-being and mental health can help reach more children and provide them with the support and skills they need.

Ultimately, developing and directing the transformation of the education system requires a participatory approach that places those within the system at the center. Government leaders, educators, students, and communities need to develop a shared vision of the purpose of their education systems. More often than not, the main actors feel left on the sidelines With very little room for the salad holders to share. Engaging in participatory policy-making approaches is essential to maintaining the commitment needed to keep pace with transformation over time and has been done in contexts ranging from British Columbia, Canada to Bogota, Colombia. like David Singeh of the Government of Sierra Leone and I wrote together last yearTransformation of the education system depends on the updated local assessment of the objectives – “Are they coming together in the moment we are in, are they addressing inequalities and building resilience for a changing world, are they fully contextually aware, are they “own broad across society” – then aligning actions around common answers. With a common purpose, education systems can be transformed to reduce inequality Significantly equalize and produce lifelong learning for all.

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