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Opinion piece: why children aren't learning

Lant Pritchett

"The majority of the world’s children are in school. So why aren’t they learning?"

RISE Research Director Lant Pritchett has written for The Guardian of the need for improving the quality of schooling if the world is to meet the ambitious demands of the global education goal. In a week where the UN approved new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at tackling poverty, hunger, climate change, and, SDG Number 4, providing quality education for all, the importance of generating research into figuring out how these aims can best be met is all the more crucial for governments and policy-makers across the world to address.

Pritchett highlights that according to the test assessment measures set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 12% of students in Finland score below the recommended level of student ability to apply mathematical concepts and reasoning to practical problems. This is 9% in Korea and 22% in the UK. In Indonesia, however, 76% of students are below level and, even more worryingly, this is only an improvement of 2.4% since 2003. At this current rate Pritchett emphasises, by 2030 (the year set by the UN Agenda to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all) 73% of students in Indonesia will still not have achieved “relative and effective learning outcomes.” Despite a majority of children being in school, the rate of learning in developing countries is not keeping up with that set by the UN’s audacious education goal.

As Lant Pritchett writes: “Progress on learning goals requires getting systems of education on a much faster pace of improvement. But too little is known about how to do that – which accounts in part for the slow progress. The British government has recognised that and is funding research to generate the practical knowledge needed to improve systems of education. But an education goal with the correct focus on learning will not be enough without radical changes to how we achieve it.”

Read the whole story on The Guardian

See also: the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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RISE blog posts reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation or our funders.