School Readiness – a formula for equity?

After a slow start early childhood education is now picking up a pace, with more governments increasing their pre-school provision, through a mixture of state and private investment.

What is only recently being recognised is that there are still many children not being able to access pre-school provision through living too far from the school, living in poverty, being a girl whose domestic responsibilities prevent her from starting school at the correct age, and those who are not ready to start primary school because their mother tongue is not the language of instruction.

At primary level if the language of the learner is different from the teacher they are less likely to succeed and more likely to fall behind -the teacher may not be trained to work bilingually and may not have the patience or resources to differentiate their teaching for their diverse class.

What is also certain, those children living in disadvantaged families, including those living in poverty, will not receive the cognitive stimulation at home which will support their brain development. Once these children start some distance behind other children they are likely to fall behind their peers, may have to repeat grades and eventually drop out or be too old to continue due to the pressure of early marriage,for example, in the case of girls.

If we are to improve equity -what can we do to ensure that all children start formal schooling ready to learn in a context which can be rather intimidating to many young learners?

The formula has to be RC+RF+RS=RC , where R=Ready, C=Community,F=Family, S=School and C= children.

This approach is having benefits in Tanzania where the GoT/EQUIP-Tanzania initiative on School Readiness is being piloted.


Community Teaching Assistants presenting their teaching aids made from local materials


More news on this initiative coming quite soon.





Disadvantage at the Starting Gate: Early Childhood Education in Pakistan

Source: Disadvantage at the Starting Gate: Early Childhood Education in Pakistan

By Huma Zia Faran, Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), Pakistan.

ASER1The recent upsurge in research on the development of a child’s brain underscores the need for greater attention to early childhood care and education, especially in developing countries. Studies (Cunha et al., 2006, and Heckman et al., 2010) reveal how a child’s brain develops at a surprisingly rapid rate during the early years thereby laying foundations for lifelong development. Early childhood education helps level the playing field for disadvantaged children as they enter primary school, empowering them to be confident and successful in later education and employment.

The recently agreed Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on education, that Pakistan has committed to, makes reference to the importance of early childhood education:

Goal 4.2: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

Being part of such global education commitments and following Article 25-A of Pakistan’s Constitution on the Right to Education, Pakistan included at least one compulsory year of early childhood education in its National Education Policy and developed a National Curriculum for Early Childhood Education (ECE). However, the ECE goals were farfetched. By the end of 2015, ASER Pakistan found that the proportion of children between 3-5 years who were out of school was 61% in rural areas and 42% in urban areas. In rural areas, 51% of early childhood provision is public, compared to 58% in urban areas.

Evidence from ASER shows that Pakistan faces a two-fold challenge – access to early childhood schooling and the long lasting effect it has on the learning abilities of a child.


In Tanzania, the situation may be seen as similar in that many rural children do not have access to pre-primary education, may not be taught in their mother tongue when they reach primary school and this fact alone starts to explain the low achievement at grade 3 – so the effects are immediate and long lasting. More on this on other blog posts such as here.

COP 21 – More on Education and climate change

Why universal secondary education can help fight climate change

Not only have climate scientists agreed that humans are contributing to climate change, but recent evidence also points out that the rate of warming is happening much faster now than it ever has before.  This is why, at the UN Climate Conference in Paris this month, world leaders are seeking to reach a new international agreement on climate change, essentially to keep global warming below 2°C (or 3.6°F). Rising temperatures pose threats on food and water security, infrastructure, ecosystems and health and, as a previous blog on this site shows, increases the risk of conflict. With an upsurge in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and the potential for rapid sea level rise, both mitigating human-related exacerbation of climate change, and adapting to its devastating effects are key priorities. This is where education comes in.

Both mitigation and adaptation require technological, institutional and behavioural responses. Correspondingly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the value of a mix of strategies to protect the planet, which combine policies with incentive-based approaches encompassing all actors from the individual citizen, to national governments and international communities. Because, while national and sub-national climate action plans are fundamental, changing individual behaviour also lies at the heart of responses to climate change.

At the individual level, barriers to the adoption of mitigation and adaptation measures include a lack of awareness and understanding of climate change risk, doubt about efficacy of one’s action, lack of knowledge on how to change behaviour and lack of financial resources to implement changes. Accordingly, there are many sound reasons to assume that different education strategies can help overcome these barriers both in direct and indirect manners.

First, directly formal schooling is a primary way individuals acquire knowledge, skills, and competencies that can influence their mitigation practices and adaptation efforts. Schooling provides a unique environment to engage in cognitive activities such as learning to read, write, and use numbers.


Students in Indonesia learn about living with nature. Credit: Nur’aini Yuwanita Wakan/EFAReport UNESCO

As students move to higher grades, cognitive skills required in school become more progressively demanding and involve meta-cognitive skills such as categorization, logical deduction and cause and effect. This abstract cognitive exercise alters the way educated individuals think, reason, and solve problems. Indeed, experimental studies have shown that higher-order cognition improves risk assessment and decision making. These are relevant components of reasoning related to risk perception and making choices about mitigation and adaptation actions.

more here:……

By Raya Muttarak, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID/ÖAW and WU), and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria.


COP 21 – Education increases awareness….

Education increases awareness and concern for the environment

climate_blog1Our first blog around the COP21 taking place here in Paris where the GMR is based showed how education can help poorer communities respond and react to the impact of climate change. This blog shows that, by improving knowledge, instilling values, fostering beliefs and shifting attitudes, education has considerable power to help individual reconsider environmentally harmful lifestyles and behavior. Therefore, education should form part of the solutions proposed from the COP.

climate_blog2aThe completion of higher levels of education does not automatically translate into more responsible behaviour towards the environment. But as the influential Stern Review on climate change noted: ‘Educating those currently at school about climate change will help to shape and sustain future policy-making, and a broad public and international debate will support today’s policy-makers in taking strong action now’.

Read the rest here


Click to enlargeCOP

COP 21 – is it now or never?

When you are in education and work with young children, there is no turning your back on issues that we know are going to affect their future. I have been involved in environmental education for many years and finally we are even seeing economists realising that the effects we are having on our environment are significant and will not respect location or whether you are rich or poor.

The evidence is too overwhelming about the damage to the future of life on the planet, whether it be forest destruction, over fishing, air pollution along with increases in global temperatures and rise of sea levels.

I have always been concerned about the amount of environmental awareness but lack of  env. action -now it is becoming serious!

I’ve seen 21 years of COP failures. Paris needs to deliver action, not talk (

There was widespread anticipation – nurtured frantically by the host nation – that the UN-sponsored climate summit (COP 15) would be “historic”. That the impasse on global climate change would be broken. That major CO2 emitters – the US, EU, China, India – would agree on a meaningful binding agreement that would (a) limit their emissions, (b) support developing countries in their transition to low-emission futures, and (c) create a mechanism to assist vulnerable countries in coping with the costs of adaptation and climatic disasters that, by then, had already become inevitable.

That, of course, did not happen.

My own country, Pakistan, contributes less than 1% of global emissions, but is a frontline vulnerable state. Melting glaciers, messed-up monsoons, intense heat waves, erratic and severe floods: these are not just projections for the future, these are realities Pakistan is already having to adapt to. Research suggests that by 2040,agriculture productivity could drop by 8-10%; by 2050, the cost of adaptation could be as high as $14bn a year.


Young and Future Generations Day at COP 21

Young and Future Generations Day will comprise youth-led side events, workshops and activities and a continuous stream of creative actions that prove young people are key players in reaching innovative and ambitious solutions to climate change. A lead event on intergenerational equity, jointly organized by the UN Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change (YOUNGO), and the UNFCCC Secretariat in collaboration with the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, will provide an opportunity to engage youth delegates from around the world with key players on the intergovernmental climate change arena. Other events include interviews with COP 21 participants and side events related to youth.

date:3 December 2015  venue:Parc des Expositions, Blue Zone (Room 10), 93350 Le Bourget  location:Paris, Ile-De-France, France  contact:UNFCCC Secretariat  phone:+49-228 815 1000  fax:+49-228 815 1999 www:

Education Day at COP 21

Education Day at COP 21 will comprise a series of events that promote changes in lifestyles, attitudes and behavior needed to foster sustainable development and to address climate change. Events during the thematic Day will provide examples of good practice and lessons learned in climate education, including at a ministerial event in climate change education and sustainable development organized by the French Government, followed by a series of mini-events, a UN side event on formal climate change education, and a CCE side event on non-formal climate change education.

date:4 December 2015  venue:Parc des Expositions, 93350 Le Bourget  location:Paris, Ile-De-France, France  www:

The State of the World’s Girls 2015: Unfinished Business

From INEE newsletter

Progress yes, but is it enough to make sustainable change?

Plan International 

There have been important changes in the lives of adolescent girls and their access to education since the millennium, but the world still has a long way to go in the struggle for gender equality. The 2015 State of the World’s Girls report brings together 14 prominent contributors who hail progress made in realising girls’ rights, but lament the fact that girls still face huge challenges.

This is a threshold moment, the contributors write, where the gains made in maternal mortality, female education and legal protection under the umbrella of the Millennium Development Goals can be built upon by the Sustainable Development Goals, which have gender equality at their centre. But they stress that without economic empowerment and equitable education, no further gains can be made.

The Unfinished Business of Girls’ Rights is the ninth report in Plan International’s annual State of the World’s Girls series. It is available to read in English, French, and Spanish. All the previous reports are available on the Plan International website.

Click to download the report.