By Alya Mohammed Al Rawahi, Independent consultant, Muscat.
Should the Muscat Agreement have included another target on education governance and management?
In 2000 the world embarked on an ambitious journey to raise educational access for all by 2015. The logic of this was that better education would help to alleviate poverty, improve health outcomes and improve economies in general. Educators across the globe started focusing their attention on the Education for All Goals; they planned, lobbied and implemented. There were many projects and initiatives to improve access and equity in education across the globe. Much has been achieved but as is documented in the last Education for All Global Monitoring Report (2013/2014) ‘not a single goal will be achieved globally by 2015’; the targets have therefore eluded many developing countries.
In the 2014 UNESCO General Education Meeting Final Statement, The Muscat Agreement, countries endorsed the overarching Goal to ‘Ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030’ and proposed seven targets to be met by 2030. Five targets were output targets and two targets were input targets. The input targets were target six ‘By 2030, all governments ensure that all learners are taught by qualified, professionally-trained, motivated and well supported teachers’ and target seven ‘By 2030, all countries allocate at least 4-6% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or at least 15-20% of their public expenditure to education, prioritizing groups most in need; and strengthen financial cooperation for education, prioritizing countries most in need’. The inclusion of input targets signals a move towards considering education and skills post-2015 as systems, taking into account inputs, processes and outputs of education to produce the intended goal.
Many medium to high income countries with small populations, such as Oman, have achieved improved rates of access and equity in their educational systems over the past 14 years and are now struggling to address issues of quality and outcome standards. In a recent joint review, by the Ministry of Education Oman and the World Bank, of Oman’s Grade 1 to 12 Education, recommendations were proposed to further improve the system which addressed five areas:
- Focusing on quality;
- Expanding participation in specific areas;
- Developing an appropriate teaching force with strong pedagogical skills;
- Improving education relevance;
- Management and financial implications.
In relation to the fifth area, Oman allocates a significant proportion of its civil ministries’ recurrent budget to the education sector as a whole (including higher education) as human resource development is a high priority for development. It is estimated that around 17.5% of the government recurrent civil ministries budget is allocated to education as a whole or approximately 4.3% of GDP. Financial support for educational development has been a driver for the impressive achievements made so far in education, but in order to improve on the gains made so far and achieve the goals of Education and Skills post-2015, the issue of management needs to be addressed.
For Education and Skills Post-2015 to be successful there is the need to consider the vital role that management plays in developing an efficient and effective educational system. Many developing countries are committed to improve their educational targets but fail to do so due to weak governance and management which thwarts important initiatives and projects from being successfully implemented and integrated into the educational systems, thus reducing their impact on improving educational outcomes. Many initiatives begin well but lose steam along the way and grind to a halt due to weak management, monitoring and follow-up. In order to address this is there not a need for another input target to be added to the Muscat Agreement?
Target 8: By 2030, all governments ensure that education systems are staffed by well-qualified, professionally trained, motivated, educational managers at central, local and school level
It is time to start setting global goals to improve national educational systems as a whole through improved governance and management so that these systems can in turn be more responsive to national and global targets. Developing countries need to develop a critical mass of qualified educational administrators to staff and further develop national educational systems to ensure that education and skills targets post-2015 are more likely to be achieved.
Alya Mohammed Al Rawahi is an Independent consultant based in Muscat, Oman.
Further Reading on Global Governance of Education and Training:
>> NORRAG Working Paper #7: Post-2015 and the Global Governance of Education and Training, by Kenneth King and Robert Palmer (December 2014)
NORRAG (Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training) is an internationally recognised, multi-stakeholder network which has been seeking to inform, challenge and influence international education and training policies and cooperation for almost 30 years. NORRAG has more than 4,200 registered members worldwide and is free to join. Not a member? Join free here.