The UN is reminding us that it is only 1000 days until the deadline for achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Although human development does not progress by deadlines or is dictated by a centrally constructed calendar, it is worth taking stock on how ‘global priorities’ are being discussed and acted upon.
These info snippets can help focus attention on the value of education. The most chilling statistic is that global military spending increased by 6% since 2008 ,even with a financial crisis. Perhaps with more effective education mixed with increased emotional intelligence we would take Costa Rica’s lead in doing away with a military budget. We could then agree that the human species has truly evolved.
Worldwide military expenditure for 2009 was $1.5 trillion. Despite the financial crisis, this represents an increase of 6% in real terms compared to 2008. The increase in aid during the same period was only 0.7%
Last week (20-22 September 2010) there was a summit on the Millenium Development Goals which concluded with the adoption of a global action plan to achieve the eight anti-poverty goals by their 2015 target date and the announcement of major new commitments for women’s and children’s health and other initiatives against poverty, hunger and disease. Visit the Summit website!
In 2000, representatives of every country agreed to work together to help the billions of people who still live with poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy. They established the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), a set of concrete targets to be reached by 2015. With only five years to go to the deadline, the leaders met in New York and discussed how education can make a crucial difference across the global development agenda.
Education is critical to achieving all the MDG goals. With 69 million children still not enrolled in school, and only five years remaining until the MDG deadline, the State of Qatar, Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF hosted a round table luncheon on ‘The Central Role of Education in the Millennium Development Goals’ and the importance of placing education, particularly for the most marginalized, higher on the global agenda. For more information on this particular meeting, click here.
For more information on the MDG summit and the importance of education, click here. To listen to a podcast moderated by Amy Costello, on the steps needed to achieve the global education goals by 2015, click here.
The International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. This year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on young people around the world to take a stand for peace under the theme, Youth for Peace and Development.
UNMIT / UN Photo
The United Nations is looking for stories from young people around the world who are working for peace. The campaign slogan this year isPeace=Future, The math is easy.”
This year, the International Day of Peace (IDP) falls within the same time period as a major summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the world’s largest anti-poverty campaign. The Summit brings world leaders together at the United Nations in New York from
20 – 22 September.
In addition, the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2010 asInternational Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. A campaign to be launched by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 12 August will promote the ideals of respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions, and civilizations. Those are key elements that reinforce the foundations of a sustainable peace.
Youth, peace and development are closely interlinked: Peace enables development, which is critical in providing opportunities for young people, particularly those in countries emerging from conflict. Healthy, educated youth are in turn crucial to sustainable development and peace. Peace, stability and security are essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child death by 2015.
The Secretary-General has recognized the incredible potential of youth which must be tapped to ensure these goals are met in their lifetimes.
Each year, the Secretary-General, his Messengers of Peace, the entire UN system and many individuals, groups and organizations around the world use the Day of Peace to engage in activities that contribute to ceasefires, end conflict, bridge cultural divides and create tolerance.
On 13 June 2010, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, calling on young people around the world to submit their stories via social media, detailing what they do for peace.
This year (2010) Peace One Day has partnered with Skype to develop and launch the Peace One Day Global Education Resource. Available in the six official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian and Spanish, the Resource includes 13 interactive, student-centred lesson plans, with accompanying student resources.
Included in this resource, and in all new editions, is a new lesson – ‘Intercultural Cooperation’ – enabling young people to connect with others in different countries using free Skype software. Young people are encouraged to explore cooperation on Peace Day and build lasting bridges with other cultures.
As with all Peace One Day education materials, the Global Education Resource is designed to be used in conjunction with The Day After Peace Documentary.
According to UNESCO there are still 75 million children out of school ( more than half of these being girls) and millions more leave school, early, without acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills. Who are these unreached that do not have access to quality schooling and learning opportunities?
They are the most disadvantaged and excluded, such as learners from remote and rural communities; learners from religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities/indigenous peoples; girls and women; children from migrant/nomadic families; learners with disabilities; street children; working children,orphans; children and young people affected (and discriminated against ) through contracting HIV / AIDS.
Even these figures may be an understatement of the real situation as there are a number of children/young people who start school, find it difficult to attend school regularly, repeat grades and finally drop out. We may know the official number enrolled but not the number who just don’t /can’t turn up to school regularly and therefore do not complete even the most basic education program.
I will focus on just a few countries where I have been working – Chad, Guyana, Mauritius, Madagascar and Azerbaijan, to consider what can be done to ‘teach the unreached’ . I have already looked at Timor Leste and Vietnam1 and Vietnam 2.
I started working with UNICEF Chad helping to establish a small project to provide some form of quality education of children from Nomadic and semi nomadic families. The representative, Daniele Brady, worked with enthusiasm and vision to make things happen under very difficult conditions.
Unfortunately, recent changes in the politics of the region,particularly the situation in Darfur, Sudan , has destabilised the country , encouraged two coups and left the country dealing with thousands of refugees. UNICEF has had to change from providing support to the government for long term education provision for all , to shorter term emergency support for children’s health, education and most importantly, safety. For emergency education services UNICEF has provided
In addition to erecting 350 school tents, UNICEF and its partners have financed construction of 250 semi-permanent classrooms. Each classroom can handle 80 children and will withstand eastern Chad’s harsh climate.
More than 600 school-in-a-box kits allowed 45,000 Sudanese refugee children to attend school, some for the very first time.
Thirty child-friendly areas in the refugee camps have given 27,000 children an opportunity to play, learn, and recover from their physical and psychological scars.
Although UNICEF is used to working on emergencies, the recent refugee influx from Darfur, has taken resources away from longer term goals for those Chadian children who do not have access to education.
I was working with UNICEF on the education of children from nomadic families.
There are thought to be over a quarter of a million nomads in the east of Chad. During the dry season the nomads are in the south of the country, the cattle herders generally going further south than the camel herders, and then during the rainy season they move north, again the camel herders going further north than the cattle.
Nomads survive because of their:
Mobility Because nomads live in areas of climatic extremes they’ve had to be flexible and opportunistic. Mobility allows them to profit from widely-dispersed resources, such as water, whose availability varies from year to year.
Mixed Economies Pastoral nomads raise several kinds of animals: usually one large prestigious species,such as cattle or camels and several smaller animals like goats and sheep. Disease or drought affects each species differently, thus increasing the nomads’ chances of survival.
Tribal Sharing Most nomadic peoples are organized into tribes or clans which have a customary claim over a specific territory and can support each other.
Nomadic peoples face many threats today, but the most serious is the attempt to stop them moving around (‘sedenterization’)
Nomads don’t fit neatly into national boundaries and they tend to look and behave differently from majority populations,.
They need to be brought together for their ‘own good’, government officials claim – so they can be educated, taxed and given proper health care, electricity and roads.
State planners claim that wandering pastoralists are inefficient and that they are ignorant of modern animal husbandry.
Major constraints to their participation in formal education are:
i) their constant migrations/movements in search of water and pasture in the case of the nomadic pastoralists;
ii) the centrality of child labour in their production system, thus making it extremely difficult to allow their children to participate in formal schooling,if in a fixed school;
ii) the irrelevance of the school curriculum which is tailored to meet the needs of sedentary groups and thus ignores the educational needs of nomadic peoples;
iv) their physical isolation, since they operate in largely inaccessible physical environments; and
v) a land-tenure system that makes it difficult for the nomads to acquire land and settle in one place.
Of course the main difficulty in providing education to children of nomadic families is that the children move and schools tend to be static. One solution, started in the 1970’s was to use an extra camel to carry the extra equipment (chalkboard and tent) for a mobile school.
Civil war disrupted this system and nomadic children have had little access to education since. Other reasons include the mistrust of the ‘French’ system of education which nomads feel does not respect their culture/language/way of life. So for Chadian Arabic speakers only Koranic schools provided some sort of education.
Koranic schools provide some education,though limited, to children of nomadic families.
Some NGOs have been able to build some schools for ‘semi-nomadic’ communities where children and old people stay in one place and teenage boys and parents move with the animals.
When parents were asked ‘What do you want from education?” They answered that their children needed to know how to look after their animals, and they needed to know their rights. Police and military often tried to extort money from them because of some infringements that they could not understand, due to their lack of French language. So as an education consultant you were faced with re-thinking education completely – taking away a static school and all its teaching resources. The needs of the families unfortunately seemed a long way from the objectives from the national education system, which was still rooted in the French colonial era.
How often do we find in different countries that a ‘classical’ approach to education exported with colonial rule does not meet the present day needs of many families. Even in Western countries life saving and life enhancing knowledge about our own health is relegated to a slot on a Friday afternoon and taught by a teacher who is not well trained in the demands of an active and participatory approach to health education. These nomadic families were saying that the health of their animals would be the only thing that helped them survive – without that knowledge education would be worthless.
We started by talking with representatives of nomadic families. What do they need and how to cooperate together to reach such objectives?
The nomadic communities offered one community member to be trained as a teacher by UNICEF as they had had earlier experience of urban teachers being sent to teach the children who had no understanding of nomadic life and culture. Providing the teacher was a sacrifice for the community as young people in the community would normally be needed for looking after the animals.
The second aspect was the curriculum and learning materials. It was decided that UNICEF and the Ministry of Education would start by developing some themes around animal and child health. It was also decided to utilise the idea of self learning materials so that students of different ages could learn together. Escuala Nueva based in Colombia, have had a lot of experience of developing ‘self -learning’ guides and it was this model that was used as a basis for developing the learning materials for the themes.
Workshops were held with writers, teachers, animal and child health experts as well as an artist who would cooperate together to produce learning guides which were trialed with students in nearby schools, to gauge the readability and understanding of the materials.
The self learning guide includes all the instructions that a teacher might normally give as well as basic information , activities and research, extending the use and understanding of that information as well as formative assessment activities. Students are encouraged to work together to solve problems and increase their mastery by interaction in pairs and small groups .
In this new understanding of what education could offer children of nomadic families, girls were particularly needing and wanting education.
On a Saturday morning I went to visit a school,hoping to talk to the teacher. I could not find the teacher and the school was locked but a group of girls were patiently waiting outside in the vain hope that the teacher may turn up. In the mean time they were educating themselves and doing a good job of it.
In other makeshift classrooms in semi nomadic communities children and their mothers were eager students ready to explore a hitherto unknown world of open education.
The situation shown below illustrates something about the traditional view of ‘French’ education. In the village everyone lives in round houses and sits on mats on the floor. However, when they wanted a site for the school they used the model of the school that has been presented to them -a square concrete box with desks and benches – colonialisation of the mind!
When you send your daughter to school you have to find ways of making up for the lost labour source otherwise the family cannot cook and eat because they have no water or firewood. UNICEF and women’s organizations helped to ease this situation by supporting families with energy efficient stoves, tools and donkeys so that girls did not have to spend so long on their tasks and could go to school.
Unfortunately, even with all this hard work and progress there are setbacks. Children thought that civil war was over and they would benefit from the new oil revenues :
But with the instability caused by the situation in Darfur and the increased hostility against nomadic peoples due to the competition for water and grazing land then the future for these children is far from rosy…..
Watch and listen to international keynote speakers talking on Country-led M&E Systems
UNICEF CEE/CIS, IDEAS and DevInfo, in partnership with WFP, OECD/DAC Network on Development evaluation and IOCE, are pleased to make available, every month and free of charge, the videos of international keynote speakers presenting the latest thinking on Country-led M&E Systems.
Robert Picciotto, King’s College, and former Director General, Evaluation, World Bank.
September 2009 Tools to strengthen Country-led M&E systems. Good practices in using DevInfo
Marco Segone, Regional Chief, Monitoring and Evaluation, UNICEF CEE/CIS; Nicolas Pron, Global DevInfo Administrator; Farhod Khamidov, M&E Specialist, UNICEF Tajikistan.
October 2009 Developing evaluation capacities
Caroline Heider, Director, Office of Evaluation, World Food Programme
Building a country-wide M&E system in Sri Lanka Dhara Wijayatikale – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Plan Implementation, Sri Lanka.
Monitoring and evaluation in South Africa
Indran Naidoo – Deputy-Director General, Office of the Public Service Commission, Republic of South Africa.
Building results-based M&E systems. The case of Botswana Collie Monkge – Vision 2016 Coordinator, Botswana
M&E in Zambia. The case of the Zambia Evaluation Association John Njovu, Chairman, Zambia Evaluation Association, Zambia.
M & E in Pakistan. The case of the Pakistan Evaluation Network Khadija Khan, Chair, Pakistan Evaluation Network.
Notes: 1. These videos are a selection of key sessions on Country-led M&E Systems organized at the Global IDEAS Conference held in March 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa. 2. The opinions expressed are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of
UNICEF. The videos and presentations have not been edited to official publication standards and UNICEF accepts no responsibility forerrors. The designations in these videos and presentations do not imply an opinion on legal status of any country or territory, or of its authorities, of the delimitations of frontiers.
The previous posts on the recruitment and utilization of Teaching Assistants brings us to highlight the unfulfilled promises that have been made globally to ensure that all children have their right to (quality) education safeguarded.
The right to education for minority communities and groups is the theme of the first United Nations Forum on Minority Issues which took place in Geneva on December 15-16 -2008.
The Forum, “Minorities and the Right to Education”, aims to provide an annual platform for dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to people of national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.
Worldwide, minority children continue to suffer disproportionately from unequal access to quality education which perpetuates the cycle of poverty leaving them unable to later fulfil their potential in employment and society. The international frameworks on equal access to quality education for minorities was discussed during the first forum.
The Forum, which was organized by the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Professor Gay McDougall, and the OHCHR, in collaboration with UNESCO, was attended by a number of experts and human rights activists and prepared a Recommendation to go before the Human Rights Council.
Unesco organised a thematic debate as a side event on “Overcoming Inequalities in Education: the Importance of Inclusion.”
“[…] I have personally committed myself to making it a priority, for education is a fundamental human right, set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Human Rights Covenants, which have force of international law. To pursue the aim of education for all is therefore an obligation for States.”
(Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, “Education for All: the Unfulfilled Promise”, 21st Century Talks session on education for all).
UNESCO survey finds under-privileged children also disadvantaged in the classroom
30-05-2008 – A new study by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) highlights the strong effect of social inequality on primary education systems in many countries and the challenge to provide all children with equal learning opportunities.
Entitled ‘ A view inside primary schools’, the report presents the results of a unique survey undertaken in 11 countries in Latin America, Asia and North Africa.
0-12-2007 – This publication is a joint UNESCO and UNICEF framework for the realization of children’s right to education and rights within education.
The result of intensive collaboration between UNESCO and UNICEF, the publication brings together the current thinking and practice on human rights-based approach in the education sector.
It presents key issues and challenges in rights-based approaches and provides a framework for policy and programme development from the level of the school up to the national and international levels.