Right now, we in the global education community are at a crossroads in how we measure our success. Our attention is divided across many priorities, and we risk squandering the opportunity given to us by the massive gains in access to schooling under the previous education goal if we don’t focus tightly on certain issues. One of these issues is how we measure whether children are learning.
The fact is, as documented recently by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and confirmed by our own PASEC studies, around half of students around the world are not acquiring even basic reading and math skills. In PASEC estimates this is even worse at the foundational level (Grade 2), where 70% of children are not being equipped with the reading and writing skills needed to progress well in their further schooling. For mathematics the number is 50% -- still a dire problem.
Francophone countries commit to quality learning assessments
The Conférence des ministres de l’Éducation des États et gouvernements de la Francophonie (CONFEMEN), created in 1960 and including 44 countries and governments, supports member countries in the improvement in the quality of their education systems through CONFEMEN’s learning assessment program called PASEC (Programme d’analyse des systèmes éducatifs). Through PASEC, CONFEMEN is committed to the sorts of measurement needed to keep the global community focused on learning as a critical issue.
By learning from examples in high quality assessments like PASEC, that can focus on the foundation years, and by embracing the approaches for global reporting developed by UIS, we can realize the aspirations of SDG 4 that all students receive inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities.
PASEC supports interventions aimed at improving the quality of education in CONFEMEN member countries. Its assessments are based on the measurement of skills in reading and mathematics at the start and end of primary education (2nd and 6th grades) and the analysis of factors that contribute to academic success, in order to propose thoughts and actions for improvements.
PASEC also reinforces the capacities of countries to plan and carry out learning assessments. Since its creation, it has strengthened the capacities of national teams concerning several themes, including the creation of instruments, sampling, data processing and development of reports.
PASEC collaborates closely with national teams for the entire evaluation process. For example, it ensures that countries can scrupulously follow sampling procedures to enable quality sampling in schools. PASEC also ensures that the data produced is of the highest quality so that reliable data is obtained at the end of the evaluation. Checkpoints are set up by PASEC to identify and correct any anomalies in the data as soon as possible.