The second edition of the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) presents the latest evidence on global progress towards the education targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

With hundreds of millions of people still not going to school, and many not achieving minimum skills at school, it is clear education systems are off track to achieve global goals. The marginalised currently bear the most consequences but also stand to benefit the most if policy-makers pay sufficient attention to their needs. Faced with these challenges, along with tight budgets and increased emphasis on results-oriented value for money, countries are searching for solutions. Increased accountability often tops the list.

The 2017/8 GEM Report shows the entire array of approaches to accountability in education. It ranges from countries unused to the concept, where violations of the right to education go unchallenged, to countries where accountability has become an end in itself instead of a means to inclusive, equitable and high-quality education and lifelong learning for all.

The report emphasises that education is a shared responsibility. While governments have primary responsibility, all actors – schools, teachers, parents, students, international organizations, private sector providers, civil society and the media – have a role in improving education systems. The report emphasises the importance of transparency and availability of information but urges caution in how data are used. It makes the case for avoiding accountability systems with a disproportionate focus on narrowly defined results and punitive sanctions. In an era of multiple accountability tools, the report provides clear evidence on those that are working and those that are not.

This youth report, based on findings and conclusions from the 2017/8 Global Education Monitoring report, asks how young people are involved in the process of accountability in education. As students, what are we responsible for in our education and how are we held accountable? How can we make sure other actors–like schools, universities and governments–are held accountable for their responsibilities? These are critical questions, because we know that there’s a long way to go before all young people around the world have access to a quality education:
absent teachers, overcrowded classrooms, illegitimate diplomas, unregulated private schools and truancy are all issues that education systems are struggling to overcome.

It’s sometimes tempting to say that these problems aren’t ours to fix, that the responsibility lies with the government or with an older generation. But this simply isn’t true: education is a shared responsibility, and young people have an important role to play. In this Report, you’ll hear the stories of young people around the world who have stood up for the right to education in their communities and who have been integral in triggering change. You’ll also read about how you can become involved in our campaign to make sure governments can be held to account for education. This means making sure that citizens can take their governments to court if they are not meeting their education responsibilities. From creating video clips to holding awareness-raising events, there is a range of ways to make your voice heard. Your involvement is integral in making sure the world is on the right path to meeting our education goals. 

In 2018, the international community will meet to adopt a new Global Compact on Refugees; a product of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Compact promises that ‘all refugee children will be in school and learning within a few months of arrival’ and commits to ‘prioritise budgetary provision to facilitate this, including support for host countries as required’. The opportunity to advance this agenda is now. However, commitments without actionable plans do not deliver results.  

The report ‘Time to act: a costed plan to deliver quality education to every last refugee child’ sets out a realistic, global plan to ensure refugee children get to go to school. Save the children challenges governments and international agencies to deliver on the promises they have made with practical action.

Key resource

Education is a fundamental human right of every woman, man and child. In states’ efforts to meet their commitments to making the right to education a reality for all, most have made impressive progress in recent decades. With new laws and policies that remove fees in basic education, significant progress has been made in advancing free education. This has led to tens of millions of children enrolling for the first time and the number of out of school children and adolescents falling by almost half since 2000. Important steps have also been taken with regard to gender parity and states have made efforts to raise the quality of education through improved teacher policies and a growing emphasis on learning outcomes. 

Despite these efforts, breaches of the right to education persist worldwide, illustrated perhaps most starkly by the fact that 262 million primary and secondary-aged children and youth are still out of school. Girls, persons with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds or rural areas, indigenous persons, migrants and national minorities are among those who face the worst discrimination, affecting both their right to go to school and their rights within schools.

To respond to the challenges, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) with UNESCO have developed this handbook to guide action on ensuring full compliance with the right to education. Its objective is not to present the right to education as an abstract, conceptual, or purely legal concept, but rather to be action-oriented. The handbook will also be an important reference for those working towards the achievement of SDG4, by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education as a strategic way to achieve this goal. 

In this present report, the Special Rapporteur considers ways in which the right to education contributes to the prevention of atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations. Stressing that education has a key role to play at all stages of prevention, the Special Rapporteur underlines the particularly forceful preventive potential of the right to education in the very early stages, before warning signs are apparent. That role is to be linked with the aims of education and the right to inclusive and equitable quality education, as established in international instruments.
 
Peace, acceptance of the “other”, respect for cultural diversity, the participation of all in the development of society and an education that is adequate and adapted to the specific needs of people in their own context are objectives of education that have been widely recognized by States and in human rights mechanisms at the international and regional levels. However, education is not afforded the importance or the funding it deserves and needs in order to play those roles.
 
The Special Rapporteur, highlighting circumstances under which schools can become tools for division and lay the groundwork for future violent conflicts, focuses on a number of steps regarding the organization of school systems, pedagogy and the values and skills to be transmitted to learners that are crucial in terms of prevention. She proposes an education framework (known in English as the “ABCDE framework”) that encompasses the interrelated features of education needed in order for the preventive potential of the right to education to be fully deployed. Namely, education should promote acceptance of self and others; a sense of belonging to society; critical thinking; diversity; and the capacity of learners to feel empathy for others. The right to inclusive and equitable quality education must be taken seriously and be prioritized if States and other stakeholders are serious in their commitment to prevent violent conflicts, atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations