In recent decades, governments have made considerable efforts to provide education for all. However, a large gap remains between international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4, and the actual achievement of inclusive and equitable quality education for all. As a result, certain actors often critique public education as ineffective and inefficient, and thus incapable of addressing this issue. They argue for privatisation as a solution, deeming private providers as more innovative and effective than public ones. However, shortcomings in public education often arise not from lack of capacity, but lack of political will.

This review of examples of public education in low- and middle-income countries shows that, in direct contrast to widely disseminated (and empirically unvalidated) ideas, public education can be highly effective, efficient and transformative and, crucially, it is possible to develop quality public education everywhere. 

In recent decades, governments have made considerable efforts to provide education for all. However, a large gap remains between international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4, and the actual achievement of equitable quality education for all. As a result, certain actors often critique public education as ineffective and inefficient, and thus incapable of addressing this issue. They argue for privatisation as a solution, deeming private providers as more innovative and effective than public ones. However, shortcomings in public education often arise not from lack of capacity, but lack of political will.

This review of examples of public education in low- and middle-income countries shows that, in direct contrast to widely disseminated (and empirically unvalidated) ideas, public education can be highly effective, efficient, and transformative and, crucially, it is possible to develop quality public education everywhere. 

Public education is often critiqued as ineffective and inefficient. However, where shortcomings in public education are identified, they can often be attributed not to lack of capacity, but lack of political will. Reviewing seven examples of public education in developing countries, this research shows that, in direct contrast to widely disseminated ideas, public education can be the most effective, efficient, and transformative approach to education, and, crucially, it is possible to develop quality public education everywhere.

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The ten rights defined in this PRS framework describe what should be included in the approach of an ‘ideal’ school that offers quality inclusive public education and supports our work to secure and strengthen free, compulsory inclusive quality public education for all.

This collaborative approach between ActionAid and the Right to Education Initiative aims to secure free, compulsory, quality public education for all.

This is version two of the framework replacing the first version produced in 2011.

One of the most serious consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the disruption of children’s education worldwide with the closure of schools for public health reasons. Projections from UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that nearly 100 million children across eight age cohorts would move below the minimum proficiency threshold in reading in 2020 due to the pandemic (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2021). Both current studies and experience of school closures due to previous similar crises, such as the Ebola epidemic, show that COVID-19 closures risk exacerbating vulnerabilities for those who are already disadvantaged (Azevedo et al., 2021). This includes lack of access to the vital nutrition provided by school nutrition programs (Borkowski et al., 2021); exposure to violence at home; early marriages and pregnancies for girl children (De Paz et al., 2020); lack of social interaction (Larsen et al., 2021); and deepening inequalities for those without access to the Internet (United Nations Children’s Fund & International Telecommunication Union, 2020).

The efficient design and delivery of early childhood policies and services are critical to ensuring long-term learning opportunities and improved learning, behaviour, employment, and health outcomes amongst individuals. Research in neuroscience, developmental psychology and cognitive science has revealed that quality early childhood education, supportive communities and a positive family environment serve as important building blocks to promote healthy development amongst infants and toddlers.

The World Health Organization identified the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and by February 2021, two-thirds of LMICs were reported to have reduced their public education budgets (Education Finance Watch Report, 2021). Although many challenges to achieving full access to quality early childhood services existed before the pandemic, this finding dramatically reveals how the pandemic threatens to erode hard won gains already achieved for children and families, and could continue to have exceedingly negative impacts on child development, early learning, family well-being and all types of early childhood services.

The Global Partnership Strategy (GPS) for Early Childhood was created to counter this negative trend in education and to overcome the reduction and closure of services for health, nutrition, sanitation, and child protection in all world regions. Well designed and implemented policies and services for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Early Childhood Development (ECD) enable all countries to protect and guarantee child rights, achieve high rates of return on their investments in child and family development and widen avenues for transforming societies and lives. 

Quality education is fundamental to sustainable development. Education is the one of the most powerful tools by which people can lift themselves out of poverty and fully participate in their communities. SDG 4 sets specific targets to address the challenges of achieving quality education universally, and provides a comprehensive framework to reaching inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Beyond enrolment rates, SDG 4 puts a welcomed emphasis on quality education and learning outcomes. This Guide takes a deep dive into how the law can play a large role in achieving SDG 4.

50th session of the Human Rights Council

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to education on her report on impacts of digitalisation on the right to education. Oral Statement by the Global initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) and the Right to Education Initiative (RTE).

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UNESCO  and  partners  held  a  side  meeting during  the  Transforming  Education  Pre-Summit,  at  UNESCO  Headquarters entitled ‘Transforming  education:  the  need  to  expand  the  international  legal  framework’.  The  report presents the main issues raised and  suggested  areas requiring  further  protection  in  the  international  legal framework on the right to education. 

In the light of human rights standards on the right to education and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, the signatory civil society organisations below raise serious concerns about the potential implications of the recently released working paper “Can Education be Standardized? Evidence from Kenya". We urge governments and other actors to recognise the limitations of this study, which some will seek to use to justify the expansion of for-profit private provision of education and scripted teaching methods. There are well established approaches to address the challenges faced by some education systems and we urge all actors to focus on education strategies and policies that have been proven to deliver inclusive, equitable and good quality education, and that contribute to strengthening public education for all.

 

FRANÇAIS

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