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Non-state actors’ role extends beyond provision of schooling to interventions at various education levels and influence spheres. Alongside its review of progress towards SDG 4, including emerging evidence on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, the 2021/2 Global Education Monitoring Report urges governments to see all institutions, students and teachers as part of a single system. Standards, information, incentives and accountability should help governments protect, respect and fulfil the right to education of all, without turning their eyes away from privilege or exploitation. Publicly funded education does not have to be publicly provided but disparity in education processes, student outcomes and teacher working conditions must be addressed. Efficiency and innovation, rather than being commercial secrets, should be diffused and practised by all. To that end, transparency and integrity in the public education policy process need to be maintained to block vested interests. The report’s rallying call – Who chooses? Who loses? – invites policymakers to question relationships with non-state actors in terms of fundamental choices: between equity and freedom of choice; between encouraging initiative and setting standards; between groups of varying means and needs; between immediate commitments under SDG 4 and those to be progressively realized (e.g. post-secondary education); and between education and other social sectors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history. Throughout 2020 most governments around the world temporarily closed schools and other learning spaces in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. At the peak of the pandemic in April 2020, schooling was disrupted for over 1.5 billion learners in more than 190 countries. This unprecedented disruption to education has the potential to roll back substantial gains made on girls’ education inrecent decades, with broader immediate and longer-term effects on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to poverty reduction, health and well-being, inclusive quality education and gender equality.
If all children are to reach their full potential in life, they must have an equal chance of receiving an education of good quality. The critical importance of education for the prospects and prosperity of individuals, communities and entire nations is recognized in Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with SDG 4 calling for inclusive and equitable quality education for all. However, too often, the most marginalized children are left behind, including girls, ethnic and linguistic minorities, migrants and refugees, children with disabilities, and those from low-income families or living in remote areas. Yet education’s unique power to act as a catalyst for wider development goals can be fully realized only if it is equitable.If all children are to be fully included in education, we need to understand the factors that inhibit and exclude the most vulnerable from learning. The 2021 Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia report on inclusion and education aims to fill key knowledge gaps and provide evidence-based recommendations to assist governments and other key education stakeholders in strengthening inclusion and SDG 4 implementation across the region.
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