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World Education Forum: Equity and learning need to be at the heart of the post-2015 agenda

This week we’re participating in one of the most significant events for education in the past 15 years. From 19–22 May in Incheon, Korea, the World Education Forum (WEF) is gathering world leaders and key stakeholders to reflect on the achievements and pitfalls in the implementation of the Education for All (EFA) goals and the education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed in 2000, and help define the post-2015 agenda for education.

As the international community is drawing on lessons from the past 15 years and preparing for the future of education, we’re calling key stakeholders to fulfil the promise of getting all children in school and learning by ensuring that the post-2015 agenda delivers on equity and learning.

Equity and learning

As the world will most likely fail to meet the EFA goals agreed in Dakar and the MDGs, 58 million children are now out of school, half of them living in conflict-affected areas.

To respond to the learning crisis that is leaving 250 million children out of school, the post-2015 agenda needs to prioritise quality of education and ensure that learning outcomes are relevant to children’s contexts.

The post-2015 education goals and targets will simply not be realised by 2030 if the most marginalised continue to be left behind. The latest education Global Monitoring Report shows that progress since 2000 has been unequal and that average rates of progress have masked the fact that the most marginalised children are still left behind. For instance, if current trends remain the same, the poorest girls in sub-Saharan Africa won’t complete primary school until 2086.

To put the needs of the most marginalised children, the post-2015 education agenda should incentivise targeted action on equity with:

  • a commitment that ‘no target be considered met unless met for all’
  • clear and measurable indicators that track progress in narrowing the gaps between most advantaged and disadvantaged groups
  • establishment of global and national-level interim stepping stones targets.

Greater action on education in crisis situations is also crucial as children in emergency-affected countries are three times more likely to be out of primary school than in other low-income countries.

Translating the agenda into practice

‘Education 2030’, a Framework for Action, will also be put to WEF for broad endorsement, before being signed off in November 2015.   ‘Education 2030’ needs to galvanise political action with strong systems of accountability to translate the new agenda into practice. Tracking progress using average rates of progress has hidden inequalities in access to quality education. The set of indicators that will be agreed in the run up to the UN General Assembly needs to track progress across all groups, including sex, wealth and location, disability and ‘displaced children’.

Targeted action also means increased and more targeted funding to reach the most marginalised children and governments need to provide sufficient funding to meet the education goal and targets. Yet – as previously highlighted– even if low-income countries raise their allocation to education, there will still be an annual US$22 billion per year financing gap between 2015 and 2030 to achieve universal pre-primary, primary and lower-secondary education. Donors therefore need to commit to increase aid to education, and clear and ambitious financing targets similar to those agreed at the Global Education in Muscat – target for domestic financing of 4–6% of GDP, or at least 15–20% of public expenditure, prioritising groups most in need – should be included in the framework.

Stepping stone targets to leave no one behind

Save the Children is also calling for the adoption of stepping stone targets to make sure to all groups are on track to achieve 2030 targets and to close the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged groups.

At the global level, this means an interim stepping stone target should be set for the equity target included in the Open Working Group for SDG Outcome Document.

When preparing national education sector plans, governments should define stepping stone targets for disadvantaged groups.

Illustrating the stepping stone concept for the Early Childhood Care and Education target in Laos: trends for pre-primary attendance in rural and urban areas in Laos

As WEF provides an opportunity to create a momentum for education, world leaders must not miss this occasion to ensure that every single child has the chance to thrive and reach their full potential in life, across all contexts. The final declaration agreed at this event must ensure that the post-2015 agenda is ambitious, equitable, and implementable, and galvanise the international community to take focused and coordinated action to ensure that all children access good quality education and achieve good learning outcomes by 2030.


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