About the Project
Why focus on learning?
The benefits of education — to national development, individual prosperity, health and social stability — are well known, but these benefits are significantly greater when the children who go to school are actually learning. Despite commitments and progress in improving access to education at the global level (i.e., Education for All [EFA] Goals and Millennium Development Goal [MDG] 2), learning levels are still low. According to the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report, at least 250 million primary school age children around the world are not able to read, write or count well, even for those who have spent at least four years in school.
It’s estimated that 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low-income countries completed school with just basic reading skills (United Nations Secretary-General, Education First, 2012). However, it is impossible to understand the full scale of the crisis because measurement of learning is limited, and unlike the measurement of access, difficult to assess at the global level.
To advance progress for children and youth around the world, it is critical that education and learning are recognized as essential for human development. As EFA and the MDGs sunset in 2015, and the UN Secretary-General launches Education First, the education sector has a unique window of opportunity to raise the profile of international education goals and ensure that learning becomes a central component of the global development agenda. To do this, the global education community must work collectively to define global ambition on improving learning and practical actions to deliver and measure progress.
What is the task force trying to do?
In response to this need, UNESCO through its Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at the Brookings Institution have co-convened the Learning Metrics Task Force. The overarching objective of the project is to catalyze a shift in the global conversation on education from a focus on access to access plus learning.
Based on recommendations of technical working groups and input from broad global consultations, the task force aims to make recommendations to help countries and international organizations measure and improve learning outcomes for children and youth worldwide.
How does the task force work?
The task force engages high-level political actors, technical experts, and practitioners in a year-long global consultation process to build consensus around three questions:
- What learning is important globally?
- How should it be measured?
- How can measurement of learning improve education quality?
Task force member organizations were selected for their ability to engage their constituencies, their influence at the global or regional level, and their experience in the evaluation of learning. The task force is comprised of national and regional governments, EFA-convening agencies, regional political bodies, civil society, and donor agencies, with balanced representation from the global north and south. The task force will convene from early 2012 to late 2013, with in-person meetings in September 2012, and February, July, and September 2013. See the list of task force member organizations and representatives, and members of the secretariat
Based on working group recommendations and consultation feedback, the task force will produce four reports:
- Proposed Learning Standards (December 2012): Based on the secretariat’s research, the findings of the Standards Working Group, and task force deliberations, the task force will addresses the case for learning standards and criteria for learning measures.
- Proposed Learning Metrics (April 2013): Based on the secretariat’s research, the findings of the Measures and Methods Working Group, and task force deliberations, the task force will propose measures to include in global, regional, and local metrics, as well as sampling and data collection methodologies.
- Metrics Guide (August 2013): This document will outline suggested processes for implementing the recommendations of the task force.
- Final Learning Metrics Task Force Report (October 2013): The final report will describe the process, issues, and final recommendations for establishing learning metrics.
Task Force Co-Chairs
Three co-chairs representing civil society, the private sector, and the UN, respectively, chair the task force:
- Rukmini Banerji, Director of Programs at Pratham
- Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director (Programmes) at UNICEF
- Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson
Center for Universal Education (CUE) at the Brookings Institution: CUE is one of the leading policy centers focused on universal quality education in the developing world. CUE develops and disseminates effective solutions to achieve equitable learning, and plays a critical role in influencing the development of new international education policies and in transforming them into actionable strategies for governments, civil society and private enterprise. The Center for Universal Education is engaged in three broad areas: improving education resources and learning outcomes, influencing the global education agenda to 2015 and beyond, and advancing quality education in conflict contexts.
CUE Secretariat Members:
- Rebecca Winthrop, Senior Fellow and Director
- Xanthe Ackerman, Associate Director
- Kate Anderson Simons, Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant
- Maribel Soliván, Learning Metrics Task Force Project Manager (Consultant)
UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS): UIS is the lead agency responsible for the collection of education data and indicators to monitor EFA and the MDG goals. UIS has the mandate to collect, analyze and disseminate statistics on the state of global education. It produces the data and methodologies to monitor trends at national and international levels. It delivers comparative data for countries at all stages of development to provide a global perspective on education, science and technology, culture, and communication. In the learning outcomes arena, the UIS plays a key role in (i) the development of a global catalogue of student achievement assessments and examinations, creating a systematic global repository of this sort of information; (ii) the generation of a global database of comparable data on student achievement (focusing on literacy and numeracy skills at the end of the primary cycle) by promoting the collaboration among existing initiatives in this area; and (iii) playing the role of a clearing house in the development and systematization of oral student assessments.
UIS Secretariat Members:
- Hendrik van der Pol, Director
- Albert Motivans, Head of Education Indicators and Data Analysis Section
- Maya Prince, Research Assistant