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.

According to UNESCO, 264 million children and youth are still out of school around the world, and this is only accounting for the primary (61 million) and secondary school (203 million) age population. In particular, the poorest and most marginalised, including ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, girls, and populations experiencing conflict, are often systematically unable to access and complete a full cycle of quality education. The first volume of NORRAG Special Issue (NSI) is dedicated to examining international frameworks and national policy as well as the challenges of fulfilling the right to education in practice.

The inaugural issue of NSI on the Right to Education Movements and Policies: Promises and Realities aims to highlight the global and national level experience and perspective on guaranteeing the right to education, as outlined in international frameworks, national constitutions, legislation, and policy, when creating the required administrative structures to ensure that the right is respected, protected, and fulfilled for all.

The Issue is divided into six parts, each focusing on a specific theme of right to education policy and practice. The first part includes an article written by RTE staff on The Role of Court Decisions in the Realisation of the Right to Education, which draws on RTE's background paper on accountability for the GEM Report 2017-8.

 

Education is the right of every child. It empowers children to thrive. It helps promote greater civic engagement and peaceful communities. It is the most effective investment against child poverty and one of the best economic investments a country can make. This is why every child should be in school. Every child must have access to quality education, so they can fulfill their potential. In the State of Palestine, very few children of primary school age are excluded from education, but nearly five per cent of 10-15-year-old children and one out of three 6-9 year-olds with disabilities are out of school. The aim of this study is to identify who these excluded children are, where they live, and to understand why they are not in school.
 
Based on a global initiative led by UNICEF and UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, it aims at providing a more in-depth analysis, using a unique conceptual and methodological framework to develop comprehensive profiles of out-of-school children and link them to the barriers and bottlenecks that led to school drop-out. It takes into consideration a variety of factors such as socio-economic factors, the quality of education, and the influence of the environment, the community and the school. This study aims not only at understanding what barriers and bottlenecks prevent access to school, but also at taking action about it. Based on research findings, it proposes practical ways of removing these barriers to get children back to school, and to keep the children who are at risk of dropping out in school. By promoting and implementing sound policies that address exclusion, we can make a substantial and sustainable reduction in the number of out of school children.