"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, April 22, 2013

New United Nations Development Goal: Learning for All

Something is not necessarily better than nothing. The United Nations is now aware that even if all children go to school, what these children learn in school can not be taken for granted. Thus, although it is highly unlikely that universal schooling will be attained in 2015, the United Nations is moving to refine its original goal of education for all to learning for all. Access to education alone can not solve the education crisis developing nations face. Equally important is the quality of education. Without quality of education, a child can not prepare for the future. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, wrote on the Huffington Post:
"But reaching the classroom is only the first step. Every child should have the opportunity not only to go to school but to acquire the knowledge and skills she needs to lead a healthy, productive life, care for herself and her family, and become an empowered citizen. At the national level, countries need workforces with the skills and competencies required to keep farms and factories producing, create jobs, fuel innovation and competitiveness, and drive economic growth that benefits everyone."
To this end, the Brookings Institute and UNESCO have joined forces to lay out a blueprint that defines quality in universal education. The first report from this joint effort assembled by The Learning Metrics Task Force was published last February:

To read the report, please visit Toward Universal Learning
Its initial objective is to determine ways of assessing learning. With this goal, the first step naturally is to define what the goals of learning are. The first question the report tackles is "What learning is important for all children and youth?" With education experts around the world, a set of standards is proposed and the following are the learning domains recommended by the task force:


The following table provides the expectations for math and science across each level (early childhood, 0-8 years old; primary, 5-15 years old; post-primary, 10-19 years old):


The discussion is still ongoing and there are disagreements among those who are participating. How these standards are applied specifically as in age or grade level is still work in progress. Some of the subdomains have been questioned in realistic terms. For example, how can technology awareness be taught in schools that are still without electricity. Nonetheless, the work is a step in the right direction, recognizing that a child needs not only a school, but a worthwhile school. Something is not always better than nothing. That something must be worthwhile.






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