“Education For All” and the U.S. “No Child Left Behind”

AFTER YOU’RE DONE READING ABOUT “EDUCATION FOR ALL”, PLEASE REPLAY THE VIDEO ABOVE UNTIL THE IDEA SINKS IN. IT PACKS A WALLOP, DOESN’T IT? WELL NOW, I ASK YOU TO INVEST A BIT OF IMAGINATION RE WHAT WE NOW HAVE:  SOPHISTICATED WIRELESS DEVICES AND MOBILE TABLETS, LIKE APPLE’S iPOD TOUCH AND iPAD 2 WITH THEIR FACETIME FEATURE ALLOWING FACE-TO-FACE COMMUNICATION AND THEIR RICH AND EVER GROWING COMPLEMENT OF EDUCATIONAL APPLICATIONS — APPS THAT THE USER CAN “REWIND” AND ACCESS 24/7 AS NEEDED AND TO SUIT ONE’S LEARNING PACE — AND THE IDEA JUST EXPLODES SEVERAL TIMES LARGER AND LOUDER. ADD TO THAT THE GROWING SOPHISTICATION OF LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (LMS), WHOA, IT JUST TAKES THE IMAGINATION TO TAME THESE TECHNOLOGIES TO MELT AWAY MOST OF THE LOGISTICAL ISSUES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, BEHIND “EDUCATION FOR ALL” AND “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND”.

In 1990, an international initiative known as  EDUCATION FOR ALL (EFA) was launched. The Philippines is a part of it. Here’s a FAQ on EFA:

Q: What is Education for All (EFA)?

A: Education for All (EFA) is an international initiative first launched in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990 to bring the benefits of education to “every citizen in every society.” In order to realize this aim, a broad coalition of national governments, civil society groups, and development agencies such as UNESCO and the World Bank committed to achieving six specific education goals:

  • Expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
  • Ensure that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, those in difficult circumstances, and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete, free, and compulsory primary education of good quality.
  • Ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs.
  • Achieve a 50 % improvement in adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
  • Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieve gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
  • Improve all aspects of the quality of education and ensure the excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
  • After a decade of slow progress, the international community reaffirmed its commitment to EFA in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000 and again in September of that year. At the latter meeting, 189 countries and their partners adopted the two EFA goals that are also Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Although MDGs 2 and 3 refer only to issues of universal primary education and gender parity, respectively, the World Bank recognizes that achieving these goals requires supporting the full EFA commitment.

Q: Why is EFA important?

A: Achieving the Education for All goals is critical for attaining all 8 MDGs—in part due to the direct impact of education on child and reproductive health, as well as the fact that EFA has created a body of experience in multi-partner collaboration toward the 2015 targets. Simultaneously, achieving the other MDGs, such as improved health, access to clean drinking water, decreased poverty, and environmental sustainability, are critical to achieving the education MDGs.

Although there has been steady progress towards achieving many EFA goals, challenges remain. Today, there are about 77 million children of school age, including 44 million girls, who are still not in school due to financial, social, or physical challenges, including high fertility rates, HIV/AIDS, and conflict.

Access to schooling in developing countries has improved since 1990—some 47 out of 163 countries have achieved universal primary education (MDG 2) and an additional 20 countries are estimated to be “on track” to achieve this goal by 2015. However, huge challenges remain in 44 countries, 23 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. These countries are unlikely to achieve universal primary education by 2015 unless domestic and international efforts are accelerated substantially.

Although the gender gap in education (MDG 3) is narrowing, girls are still at a disadvantage when it comes to access and completion of both primary and secondary school. Despite recent gains in girls’ enrollment at both the primary and secondary levels—particularly in low-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia—24 countries are unlikely to achieve gender parity at either the primary or at secondary level by 2105. The majority of these countries (13) are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Poor learning outcomes and low-quality education also remain overriding concerns in the education sector. For example, in many developing countries, less than 60 percent of primary school pupils who enroll in first grade reach the last grade of schooling. Additionally, pupil/teacher ratios in many countries exceed 40:1 and many primary teachers lack adequate qualifications.

Q: What is the World Bank doing to achieve EFA?

A: The World Bank supports the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI) as the primary vehicle for accelerating progress toward quality, universal primary education, and other EFA goals. The Bank supports EFA through specific operations in almost 90 countries worldwide through multidimensional efforts to:

  • improve primary school access and equity, as well as educational quality and learning outcomes
  • improve the dropout and retention rates of girls, as well as their learning outcomes
  • help education systems cope with HIV/AIDS
  • pomote early childhood development
  • potect EFA prospects in fragile states
  • The Bank has also established a Children and Youth unit to strengthen support for nonformal education, which helps young people develop the necessary skills to improve their opportunities and transition to the labor market.

Policy work is a key component of the Bank’s work to realize EFA. This work involves analysis of individual countries’ education systems and enhancing the capacity of ministries of education to develop and implement policies and programs, as well as to generate reliable data with which to monitor and evaluate educational performance.

Work with individual countries on EFA goals requires a mutual accountability between developing countries and donors. On one hand, developing countries need to develop sound education sector programs through-broad based consultation, lead the development and implementation of a national education program, coordinate donor support, and demonstrate results on key performance indicators. On the other hand, donors need to help mobilize the additional resources needed to achieve EFA goals, work to make donor education funding more predictable, align donor work with country development priorities, and coordinate donor support around one education plan (including the harmonization of donor procedures as much as possible).

Finally, the World Bank also supports EFA efforts through analytic work and the sharing of global knowledge and good practice. The Bank’s analytic work has, for example, helped establish benchmarks for quality, efficiency, and resource mobilization in the education sector.

Well, in the United States, “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLB)” became Public Law 107-110 when former Pres. George W. Bush signed it on Jan. 8, 2002. It is aimed “to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.” Get a load of what we are doing for EFA in the Philippines and what other countries, such as what the United States is trying to do with a similar initiative–the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLD).

In remarks this morning (March 14) at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va., President Barack Obama spelled out his Obama Plan calling more flexibility within the NCLB Law, per the following USA TODAY report:

Obama seeks to end ‘status quo’ of education law

By David Jackson, USA TODAY, March 14, 2011

Sec. Duncan and Pres. Obama

In seeking adjustments to the education law known as No Child Left Behind, the Obama administration is again casting itself as an agent of change versus the status quo — in this case a status quo in which most schools are struggling to meet the requirements of the act.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Sunday that if No Child Left Behind isn’t reformed, four out of five schools won’t meet its standards.

“Under the current law, it’s one size fits all,” Duncan said. “We need to fix this law now so we can close the achievement gap.”

Obama plans to call for more flexibility within the law during remarks today at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va. His speech is scheduled for 10:40 a.m.

“We need to make sure we’re graduating students who are ready for college and a career.,” President Obama said. “In the 21st Century, it’s not enough to leave no child behind. We need to help every child get ahead. We need to get every child on a path to academic excellence.”

The White House also sent out a list of their differences between their “changes” and the law’s “status quo:”

NCLB Status Quo: Rely on unsophisticated bubble tests to grade students and schools.

The Obama Plan: Support better tests. The Obama Administration has invested $350 million to support states in their efforts to create more sophisticated assessment systems that measure problem solving and other 21st century skills and that will provide teachers will timely information to help them improve instruction.

NCLB Status Quo: Teachers and principals don’t get credit for improving student scores.

The Obama Plan: Replace the current pass-fail school grading system with a system that rewards teachers, principals and schools for showing they’ve helped students improve and doesn’t just judge them for how students did on one test on one day.

NCLB Status Quo: States lowered standards to meet yearly goals under No Child Left Behind. Often, students graduating from high school need remedial courses in college.

The Obama Plan: Support efforts of the nation’s governors and State education leaders to adopt college and career ready standards so when kids go to college they won’t need to take remedial courses.

NCLB Status Quo: A narrow curriculum focused only reading and math.

The Obama Plan: Invest in state and local efforts to develop a well-rounded curriculum and allow states to include subjects beyond reading and math in their accountability system.

NCLB Status Quo: Schools that are doing well often get mislabeled as “failing” under No Child Left Behind’s broken accountability system.

The Obama Plan: Offer greater flexibility to states and school districts in identifying areas of improvement and strategies for addressing poor performance, while requiring more meaningful change in the most challenging schools.

NCLB Status Quo: Too often the schools with the greatest challenges don’t have the most effective teachers.

The Obama Plan: Provide incentives and accountability for getting effective teachers to the schools that need them the most, and identifying and leaning from the most effective teachers.

NCLB Status Quo: The federal government prescribes “one size fits all” solutions.

The Obama Plan: Do away with unnecessary federal mandates and increase local control to pursue solutions focused on results. If schools aren’t meeting targets, improvement strategies need to be locally crafted to address the problems in those schools.

NCLB Status Quo: No Child Left Behind does not promote or reward innovation in schools.

The Obama Plan: Support competitive grant programs that reward states and schools for changing the system by improving how they get the best teachers in the classroom, extending the school day and year, supporting the creation of smarter tests, using data to improve practice, and raising standards for all kids.

NCLB Status Quo: Our nation’s lowest-performing schools lack the resources and reforms needed to improve.

The Obama Plan: Invest in ambitious and bold efforts to transform our nation’s lowest achieving schools, while demanding new and dramatic change in their leadership and reforms to teaching and learning at those schools.

NCLB Status Quo: Parents are often under-engaged in their child’s education, and schools are often unwelcoming of parents.

The Obama Plan: Double the federal investment in family engagement and provide new incentives for schools to develop innovative ways to engage parents and community members.

NCLB Status Quo: States often lack the resources to support and address the unique challenges of rural schools.

The Obama Plan: Support innovation and reform directed at rural challenges. Support the funding necessary for these schools to better use technology in the classroom and address the challenge of recruiting and retaining effective teachers and principals.

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