On the occasion of International Literacy Day tomorrow, a new policy brief details how the Global Partnership for Education invests in quality teaching and learning. Education is a powerful agent of change that improves health and livelihoods, contributes to social stability and drives long-term economic growth. Without literacy, this progress will not be possible.
It is estimated that 274 million primary school children are not learning basic foundational skills, and 468 million secondary students are not learning basic secondary level skills in developing countries.
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has adopted SDG 4 as its vision and put improved and more equitable learning outcomes at the heart of its 2016-2020 strategic plan.
GPE supports quality teaching and learning
To contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning, GPE provides a wide range of support to its partner countries, in particular support for:
- education sector planning focusing on stronger learning outcomes,
- measuring learning,
- improved instruction.
Country-level work is also reinforced by global action through exchange of knowledge and good practices on what works to improve learning.
Robust planning can lead to stronger learning outcomes
GPE supports evidence-based sector plans that are developed with the commitment of national stakeholders and donor partners. Through education sector plan development grants, GPE provides governments with technical and financial support to conduct a sector analysis and develop the plan.
In 2016, GPE provided US$8.9 million to support the development of 27 sector plans.
In partnership with UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank, GPE also developed the Methodological Guidelines on Education Sector Analysis to strengthen government knowledge for evidence-based planning. Strong sector planning helps to identify critical barriers to learning and to address them.
Measuring learning outcomes
GPE works with partners to support global efforts to monitor progress on SDG 4, with a view to promote improvements in national learning assessment systems. Through the Global and Regional Activities (GRA) program and implementation grants, GPE has invested in the measurement of learning at the global and regional levels.
To support learning assessment at the national level, GPE launched the Assessment for Learning initiative (A4L) this past August. A4L provides technical and financial assistance to support sector planning and analysis, ensuring sustainability through integration with education sector plans. It will also strengthen the capability of regional assessment networks in Africa and Asia-Pacific to build capacity and exchange knowledge and good practices at the regional level. A4L is implemented in close collaboration with support from the Brookings institution and the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML).
Starting in 2018, country partners without a system to monitor learning outcomes will be requested to use GPE funds to fill any gaps for the implementation of their learning assessment system strategy. The A4L initiative, along with the various sources of funds from the GPE funding model, will play a key role in supporting capacity building of national actors throughout the process.
Support to teachers
The Incheon Declaration recognizes that to achieve quality education, teachers must be “empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, and motivated.” Teachers are also a critical voice in the policy dialogue, as they are closest to school-level realities and can help ensure that the policy dialogue is grounded in the local education context.
The UIS estimates that 69 million primary and secondary school teachers need to be recruited by 2030 in order to achieve SDG 4. GPE helps close the teacher gap in partner developing countries and supports teacher education and teacher management.
In 2016, 238,000 teachers were trained with support from GPE grants, and 93% of active GPE grants invested in teacher development in 2016.
Three factors are known to have a significant impact on the learning process: the availability of quality learning materials, sufficient instructional time and effective pedagogies in the early grades.
As of June 2016, 76% of GPE-funded programs had a component on the development and provision of learning materials. To date, GPE has contributed to the distribution of more than 1.6 billion textbooks.
Encouraging results in partner countries
With support from GPE, partner countries are making progress toward improved teaching and learning, including the following:
- In Ethiopia, the percentage of in-service teachers with appropriate qualifications increased from 3% to 44% in grades 1-4 and from 53% to 92% in grades 5-8 between 2006 and 2013. The number of grade 4 students achieving basic proficiency or higher in all subjects rose from 505,000 to 792,000 between 2011 and 2015.
- In Zimbabwe, teacher professional standards were established, which now form the basis of all supervision and mentoring of teachers across the country. A new teacher development information system database (TDIS) has strengthened the government’s capacity for responsive and data-driven teacher development planning.
- In Sudan, the government established a national learning assessment to gauge the literacy and numeracy skills of students. It also developed and operationalized a rapid results education management information system (EMIS), despite the challenges related to collecting data in a post-conflict context.
More detailed information and additional examples are outlined in the new policy brief “How GPE supports teaching and learning” released today. We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners to make effective teaching and learning a reality for children around the world.