We know that education is a fundamental human right. We know that without it, our lives – and indeed our world – would be greatly diminished. The collective progress that has been made over recent decades to get millions more students into the classroom is cause for celebration. But with so many challenges remaining – from concerns about whether they are actually learning to the educational exclusion of so many disadvantaged children – there is no room for complacency.
Now, as never before, we need to track progress on education in more detail. Where are the learning gaps? Who is still missing out on an education? And very importantly, why?
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the mandate for a strong focus on equity in education, aiming to ensure that the most disadvantaged children and young people have the same opportunities as others. SDG 4 demands an inclusive and equitable quality education for everyone, leaving no one behind. The challenge now is to provide the robust evidence, driven by solid data, which will enable the effective monitoring of progress on educational equity. With data currently available for less than one-half of the global indicators needed to track progress towards SDG 4, it is time to rise to that challenge.
This handbook sets out, in practical terms, how this can be achieved. Produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), in collaboration with FHI 360 Education Policy and Data Centre, Oxford Policy Management and the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge, it provides all those involved in the measurement of educational equity with not only the key conceptual frameworks but also the practical tools to do the job. With countries under pressure to deliver data on an unprecedented scale, the Handbook also recognises that no country can do this alone, making a strong case for greater cooperation and support across governments, donors and civil society.
The delivery of equitable quality education underpins the world’s development goals, from poverty reduction to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies. We hope that this handbook will help to translate the commitments made to equitable education into tangible action to monitor progress towards this crucial global ambition.