By Kenneth King and Robert Palmer.
NORRAG recently submitted written evidence to the UK International Development Committee Inquiry on Post-2015 Development Goals (view full submission), which was based on a NORRAG working paper to be published on NORRAG’s site in mid-January 2013 (see also earlier blog posts on this working paper here and here). Below are some highlights of the submission, inter-linked with some reference to the recently published UNESCO Global Monitoring Report (GMR).
It is clear that discussion of the role of education and technical/vocational skills in the post-2015 development agenda has barely started. The post-MDG process is much more advanced than the post-EFA process, though the latter process is now starting and we are awaiting the launch of the UNESCO/UNICEF-led consultations on education in the post-2015 agenda. It will be important to harmonize the post-EFA and post-MDG discussions.
Lessons Learned from the Adoption of the Millennium Development Goals
- Goal definition. It is important clearly to define post-2015 education and skill goals and targets both for MDGs and EFA, so that there is not confusion and inaction as happened with, for example, EFA goal 3 (life skills). The UNESCO GMR on skills also makes this point, noting that ‘any post-2015 international goals for skills development need to be more precisely defined… in order to avoid the problems that have plagued efforts to monitor goal 3’ (p.5).
- Monitoring. The desire to have better monitoring in the post-2015 framework has to be weighed against the weak information systems and analytical capacity in many countries.
- MoE-centric. The education MDGS (and EFA) have been too Ministry of Education-centric and too focused on education rather than on education and skills.
- Financing. There appears little hope of meeting the external financing gap by relying on traditional ODA. Indeed, the UNESCO GMR is now referring to a $24 billion annual financing gap once we include lower-secondary education (p.20). Innovative financing for education needs more exploration, as does tapping into additional flows.
The Post-2015 Process: Are the Appropriate Voices being heard?
- Northern led? The post-2015 planning process seems currently to be dominated by the North, but the Global South is still – separately – planning its own development.
- UN-member states. Ultimately, it will be up to UN-member states to determine what the post-2015 framework looks like. In this regard, it will be important for more voices to be heard in the key contexts and at the appropriate time.
The Content of Future Goals
- Unfinished agenda; EFA plus? The education MDG of universal primary education remains an unfinished agenda item both in quantity and quality. As does the wider EFA agenda. But even if these goals had all been achieved, these are still only basic educational standards which will not, alone, be sufficient for any country in our increasingly inter-connected and competitive world. Post-2015, a more holistic vision of education as a human right and a global public good is necessary.
It will be interesting to follow how education and skills are included in the next meeting of the High Level Panel on Post-2015 which will meet in London from 31st October to 2nd November.
Kenneth King is the Editor of NORRAG News. He is an Emeritus Professor at the School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Email: Kenneth.firstname.lastname@example.org