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Schools are being attacked in Ukraine

On March 4, a high school was destroyed by air warfare in the city of Zhytomyr, Ukraine. There were no children in the school, which was closed as a result of the war, but teachers were found hiding in the basement after the strikes had ended.

Attacks that indiscriminately strike civilian objects, such as schools, violate international humanitarian law and would constitute a war crime. Schools should be entitled to heightened protections as long as they are not used for military purposes.

There are no verifiable statistics given the current circumstances of the number of schools that have been attacked in Ukraine, although one figure circulating on global media cites 211 schools so far. The conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014 had already destroyed, damaged or forced the closure of more than 750 schools, according to Save the Children.

 

While all evidence online needs to be verified, many individual examples of school attacks can be found on Twitter, including a hole in the wall of a school caused by a missile, a video of a kindergarten blown to bits in Kharkiv, and photos of a kindergarten destroyed in Chernihiv. Amnesty International also confirmed that a 220mm Uragan rocket dropped cluster munitions on the Sonechko nursery and kindergarten in the town of Okhtyrka in Sumy Oblast, where local people were seeking safety from the fighting.

Despite the mounting evidence, the Russian military is denying targeting residential areas.

Quite apart from the long-term damage this bombardment will cause to Ukraine’s education system, the conflict has also created a more immediate challenge for the education of the country’s children and youth right now. There are well over 1.7 million people already on the move out of Ukraine. As was documented in the 2019 GEM Report on migration and displacement, it is vital that these children are quickly integrated into local schools, and their language and psychosocial needs met. Teachers will also require support to cope with their experiences and to find work in new countries.

There will be no child untouched by this fight. The determination and energy of high school students filmed in this video near the start of the war is something we should support as they cross into neighbouring countries looking for safe havens.

Our latest 2012/2 GEM Report reported against SDG Indicator 4.a.3, which serves to monitor the number of attacks on students, personnel and institutions. The data for this indicator are compiled by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), of which the GEM Report is a member, and are based on observations and reports by various actors on the ground.

In 2011, our team produced the 2011 GEM Report and turned the world’s attention to education in conflict.  The volume of support for the messages in the Report resulted in a new UN Resolution recognizing attacks on schools as violations of human rights.

All attacks on schools are indiscriminate. There is no excuse.

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The implications of school choice in the United States

By Frank Adamson, Assistant Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Sacramento and author of a background paper for the 2021/2 GEM Report

The title of the 2021/2 GEM Report, Who chooses? Who loses? invokes the notion of ‘school choice’, a term encapsulating Milton Friedman’s market-based theory that if students choose schools, those schools must outcompete each other for customers (students), with this competition yielding higher quality education.  By asking Who chooses?, the report raises the issue that schools may actually choose students instead of students choosing schools. The second question of Who loses? self-evidently addresses the global reality that many students lack sufficient educational opportunity.

This blog addresses findings from the GEM report in the context of the United States in three key areas: segregation, competition, and state responsibility.

Education segregation in the United States

Segregation directly addresses the GEM Report’s second question of Who loses? The historical legacies of slavery and segregation in the United States created racial and class divisions that remain today, with segregation in education having increased over the last 30 years.

Despite the desegregation intention of the 1954 Brown vs. Board supreme court case, Jargowsky reports that students in primary and secondary education are “substantially more racially and economically segregated than people not enrolled in school”. Furthermore, our 2019 study found that students of colour in urban contexts often attend intensely segregated schools enrolling over 90% students of colour. Most identify education segregation and inequity as major problems, but market-based, competitive approaches have not alleviated these issues.

Education competition in the United States

Briefly, non-state actor involvement in the U.S. context usually means spending public tax dollars on self-managed schools (the charter school model) or giving students vouchers or tax credits (again tax dollars) to attend private schools, as outlined in the GEM Report (p. 47). Our 2019 analysis shows that charter schools account for 7% of all schools and 5.7% of all enrollments, while “vouchers account for merely 0.34% of U.S. national student enrollments” and “only 0.02% of families nationally participated in Individual Tax Credits, Tax Credit Scholarships, and Education Savings Accounts” (pp. 16-17). While these percentages may not appear substantial, localized analysis produces a very different picture.

The distribution of the most prevalent form of non-state actor involvement, charter schools, varies substantially across the country, with 57% of charters operating in urban environments despite only 25% of students living there. Within charter schools, African American and Latinx students are over-represented, while white students, who comprise around half of the public school population, account for only one-third of charter enrolments. Over 30 school districts in the country have greater than 25% charter school enrolment, including many large cities serving predominantly students of colour, such as New Orleans (93% charter enrolment), Detroit (53%), Washington D.C. (46%), Oakland, California (29%), and Los Angeles (26%).

A heat map of charter schools illustrates their over-representation in urban districts and reveals the intersection of longstanding education segregation by race and class through the targeted deployment of school choice in the form of charter schools.

Figure 1. United States school districts with charter school enrolment greater than 10%

Note: Visualization produced using data from the National Alliance for Public Charters, 2016 and adapted from Adamson, F. and Galloway, M. (2019) (EPAA open-source). Circle size proportional to enrolment.

The rise of charter schools has seen communities lose their public schools as policy-makers close them or convert them to charter schools. For instance, research in the Chicago system shows that, as education privatization increased citywide, African Americans became increasingly segregated into low-income and uni-racial schools due to both enrolment in charter schools and public school closures. Resistance to these school closings by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, including a 34-day hunger strike, motivated members to create a national black-and-brown led organization called the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J). Led by Jitu Brown, J4J now advocates in over 30 cities for education justice.

Competition in charter schools often leads to student selection, one of the most detrimental set of practices to educational equity. Selection occurs when schools counsel- or force-out students using different strategies, including a lack of transparency in registration practices, hints to parents that other schools would better serve their children, and schools finding reasons to suspend or expel students with low test scores.

None of these practices is hypothetical. I encountered them in countless interviews while researching a detailed report on New Orleans entitled Whose choice? that describes the myriad ways in which charter schools selected students and stratified the entire district. A new book by Welner and Mommandi, released last year, delves even further, describing 13 different ways in which charter schools choose students to shape their enrolment.

Examples of the cost of competition for students do not stem only from New Orleans and the United States. This GEM Report also describes the collateral damage of competition, noting that “non-state actors may increase cost-efficiency by hiring young or unqualified teachers” or that “non-state providers may be tempted to reduce inputs by focusing on subjects whose results are measured, which may matter for their funding” (p. 13). In these cases, the quality of education suffers through inexperienced teachers and/or truncated curriculum. Furthermore, when states allow, or even support, systems with these results, they abrogate their legal responsibility as the duty-bearer for the human right to education, as described in human rights law and The Abidjan Principles.

State responsibility in the United States

This third issue, state responsibility, starts with the acknowledgement that the pursuit of market-based approaches in the United States has exacerbated inequity and segregation in many contexts. A different course for public education provision could include investing in full-service community schools. According to J4J Alliance, these schools would have engaging, culturally relevant and challenging curriculum, educator roles in professional development and assessment design and use, and wrap around supports such as health and other care for students needing those services. Overall, the U.S. case provides an important and instructive example that other countries should examine before scaling up similar education approaches.

This brings us to a final international point about policy, politics, and influence. While the GEM Report does call attention to the myriad actors and political acrimony that divides opinion on the role of markets and governments in education, the report does not go far enough in naming the power asymmetries in terms of finance and access of different constituencies (e.g., technology companies and venture capital funds having orders of magnitude more resources and policy influence than civil society). To that end, I would add a third question to the report – Who chooses? Who loses? And who benefits? – to interrogate how non-state actors derive profit from the education sector and to help us remember that students should remain the recipients of our education expenditures and resources.

At a more fundamental level, the GEM Report could also have more explicitly identified who stands to benefit from different approaches. There is an inherent conflict of interest between the universal right to education and the goal of increasing profit. As we face increasing global challenges, we cannot afford to further fracture education provision by diluting public investment in the interest of private profit; instead, we must collectively deliver on the vision of the U.N. and treaty law that guarantees the right to a high-quality public education for all students.

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France: Appel fédéral – 27 janvier : augmenter les salaires et pensions c’est urgent !

Europe/France/28-01-2022/Auteur(s) et Source: www.ferc-cgt.org

L’inflation des produits de première nécessité, de l’alimentaire, de l’énergie, du carburant… aujourd’hui personne ne peut nier que les prix flambent et rendent les fins du mois toujours plus difficiles pour la plupart des travailleurs et travailleuses dans les champs de Éducation, de la recherche, de la formation professionnelle, de la culture, dans les associations. D’autant que ces dernier·es ne peuvent pas en dire autant de leurs salaires et pensions. Gel du point d’indice pour les agent·es de la Fonction publique, NAO en berne dans le privé, accord au rabais dans le sport, avenant dans l’animation qui ne compense pas l’inflation… Le pouvoir d’achat devient la priorité numéro 1 des jeunes, des salarié·es des secteurs du privé et du public, des privé·es d’emploi, des retraité·es.

Malgré cet état de fait, le gouvernement et le patronat restent sourds aux difficultés et aux revendications de la majorité des travailleur·ses et ne proposent que quelques mesurettes : primes Macron défiscalisées, l’indemnité inflation de 100 €, revalorisations salariales très insuffisantes… Et axent tout sur les propositions qui en définitive sont inégalitaires et temporaires, notamment l’ensemble de la rémunération au mérite.

Les propositions qui fleurissent comme la baisse des prix de certains produits (la fameuse « baguette à 29 cts d’euros), ou l’augmentation des salaires par la baisse de cotisations sociales sont des leurres ! Pour les premières, peut-on se satisfaire de sous-payer certaines productions dévalorisant ainsi le travail de certain·es et obérant des augmentations de salaires dans certains secteurs (comme l’énergie). Pour les secondes, faut-il rappeler que les cotisations sociales sont une partie intégrante du salaire (ce qu’on appelle le salaire socialisé) et permettent le financement de la Sécurité sociale (santé, retraite, assurance chômage, famille) de manière solidaire au nom du « chacun·e cotise selon ses moyens et reçoit selon ses besoins ». Les baisses et les exonérations, même si elles peuvent paraitre attrayantes dans l’immédiateté, sont en fait du vol de salaire !

Pour la FERC, la seule manière d’augmenter le pouvoir d’achat, c’est augmenter immédiatement et largement les salaires et pensions !

Elle revendique :

  • l’augmentation générale des salaires et dans l’immédiat une revalorisation uniforme de 400 euros (80 points d’indice pour la fonction publique pour tous les agent·es titulaires et non titulaires)
  • le SMIC à 2000 € bruts
  • le dégel du point d’indice
  • dans le privé, des négociations salariales de branches et d’entreprises portant sur les salaires réels, des augmentations régulières et la reconstruction des grilles de salaires garantis prenant en compte la qualification (avec un salaire de base) et l’expérience professionnelle
  • l’abandon de la rémunération « au mérite » source d’inégalités et favorisant le clientélisme et l’arbitraire de l’encadrement
  • une indexation du point d’indice garantissant le pouvoir d’achat
  • l’égalité salariale et professionnelle entre les femmes et les hommes
  • la réduction du temps de travail à 32 heures par semaine sans perte de salaire, ce qui équivaut à la création de 4,5 millions d’emplois
  • une revalorisation des pensions à hauteur de 2 000 euros
  • une augmentation des minima sociaux et de nouveaux droits pour les précaires et privés d’emploi

Pour toutes ces raisons, la FERC appelle l’ensemble des travailleurs et travailleuses à faire grève le 27 janvier et à participer aux manifestations qui auront lieu partout en France.

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Uganda schools reopen after almost two years of Covid closure

Africa/Uganda/14-01-2022/Author and Source: www.kbc.co.ke

Children in Uganda have expressed their joy at finally returning to school nearly two years after they were closed because of Covid.

“I am really excited because it’s been a long time without seeing our teachers. And we have missed out a lot,” Joel Tumusiime told the BBC.

“I am glad to be back at school,” echoed another, Mercy Angel Kebirungi.

But after one of the world’s longest school closures, authorities warned at least 30% of students may never return.

Some have started work, while others have become pregnant or married early, the country’s national planning authority said.

About 15 million students have been affected by the closure, the government says.

“We can’t let this happen again. We must keep schools open for every child, everywhere,” the UN children’s agency, Unicef, warned on Twitter.

Some classes reopened in October 2020 temporarily but closed again in May and June of the following year.

While schools were closed, there have been some lessons via the radio, TV and newspapers while some schools have provided printed materials, but these have not reached everyone.

Wealthier Ugandans have also been able to access online classes and home tutors.

But many children have not been to school for about 22 months.

One pupil explained how she continued learning during the long hiatus.

“My parents never had the time to study with me. When schools were closed, I was able to read, but on my own. Sometimes I would meet with friends to study,” said Christine Teburwa. Like Joel and Mercy, she is in Primary Five, meaning they are between nine and 11 years old.

Pupils who have not had any education since March 2020 will resume classes a year above where they were before the pandemic.

However, some parents in the capital, Kampala, questioned this.

“My children have not been learning at all. I wish they could be allowed to continue from where they stopped,” Rachael Nalumansi said.

“Before the first lockdown, our children had only been in school for two weeks. So it is a bit concerning that they are now promoting them to the next class,” Vanetta Bangi said.

For those students who have not accessed any form of studying during the pandemic, the curriculum will be abridged to focus on core areas and give them a chance to catch up.

Lessons were already underway at some schools I visited on Monday morning while at others, students were still cleaning classrooms and re-organising their desks. Others were still registering with the school administration.

Boarding school students in Kampala and the nearby districts will start throughout the week, to avoid congestion on public transport.

Despite authorities instructing that health and safety measures like masks and social distancing should be in place, not all institutions have the space or facilities to ensure that these steps are properly followed. Some have huge numbers of students and very few classrooms.

But it is not only learners who will struggle, but many parents’ incomes were also hit by the pandemic, and some will find it difficult to raise money for tuition fees and other school requirements.

The phased reopening of schools, which started in November with universities and higher education institutions, was pegged to the vaccination of over 550,000 teachers, their support staff, and students aged 18 and above.

Uganda, which has had some of the world’s strictest lockdowns, is now moving to fully reopen the economy despite being at the start of its third wave of the pandemic driven by the Omicron variant.

Source an Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/uganda-schools-reopen-after-almost-two-years-of-covid-closure/

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Kenya: Govt says Kshs 8B PRIEDE project has been successful

Africa/Kenya/17-12-2021/Author: CLAIRE WANJA/Source: www.kbc.co.ke

The targets of the Kenya Primary Education Development (PRIEDE) project funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to the tune of Kshs 8 billion in line with the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) has borne fruits.

Deputy Director for Education, Sebestian Owanga said the project, which has run for the past five years, involved training teachers on effective Early Grade Mathematics (EGM) teaching methodologies, training Headteachers  and Board of Management (BOM) chairpersons for prudent financial management as well as provision of EGM textbooks to 6 million grade one and two pupils.

Mr. Owanga, who spoke while on the assessment as well as closing mission of the project in Kakamega County through class observation sessions, he said the mathematics teachers can now ensure that they actively engage, infuse ethics and empower the learners during the lessons.

He said that the project has ensured adequate supply of text books and the learner to book ratio is one to one.

The DPCD stated that the newly adopted teaching methodologies employ the Competence Based Assessment (CBA) which is learner-friendly where they described as either Meeting Expectation (M.E), Approaching Expectation (A.E) or Below Expectation (B.E).

“The CBA tool has discarded the use of derogatory words such as poor or weak that would lower the self-esteem of pupils with low competence,” he observed.

A lesson goes on for grade 2 pupils at St. Martin mixed primary for the deaf in Mumias West sub county in Kakamega County.

He added the teachers have shifted from the pedagogy that emphasizes quantity to that of quality where learners are now engaged during the lesson, taught morals and at the end of the lesson they all empowered basing on their varied abilities.

He called on the head teachers to ensure that all the pupils are registered in the National Educational Management Information System (NEMIS) as capitation disbursement will be based on this information.

The Director Teacher Education (DTE) Margaret Mwandale said they are encouraging collaborative teaching and learning where two teachers handle a lesson together and the learners are paired up.

Mwandale stated that at first, they trained selected teachers in counties but through the School Based Teacher Support (SBTS) initiative, the trained ones have taught the others.

The DTE said their mission was to look at school enrollment, staffing, performance trend,financial management and community involvement in school activities.

She stated that parents and the community are key stakeholders in the implementation of CBC therefore they should part and parcel of the school management.

The Director observed that the introduction of the Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD) tool has boosted teacher performance by reducing incidents of absenteeism.

She said as PRIEDE project closes, the next target is the teacher training colleges where they intend to ensure that the trainees are taught CBC-inclined pedagogical skills.

The other members of the delegation were Elizabeth Owiti from Elimu Coalition (EC) and Kananu Murungi from the directorate of Special Needs Education (SNE).

Joseph Muhombe, the Headteacher of St. Martin mixed boarding primary school for the deaf in Mumias West SubCounty, lauded the MOE, GPE and other development partners for the efforts of uplifting education standards in the country.

Mr. Muhombe, however, disclosed that only grade one and two classes have adequate mathematics text books but the other learning areas including English, environment and hygiene there is a shortage of textbooks.

The head teacher stated that grade three, four and five as well as standard six, seven and eight (last 8-4-4 system lot) have limited text books in all learning areas.

He said the school has an enrollment of 370 against 22 teachers, the he said is inappropriate as a class is supposed to hold 10 learners for a lesson.

The school head complained that they are forced to admit Pre-Primary 1 pupils (age 4) because the parents do not know the sign language to teach the children.

“The little children are admitted into boarding because the parents or guardians do not know the Kenya Sign Language (KSL) and failure to introduce the child to it at an appropriate age would make them be completely unable to learn it,” he explained adding thatin some instances the parents release the children for fear of stigmatization by the community.

The team also visited Kakamega primary in Kakamega Central Sub County and Eshitare primary inButere, Eregi mixed in Ikolomani (regular schools) as well as St. Emillian Eregi primary for the deaf.

All in all, the CBC programme will go a long way in molding all round learners by instilling the ethical values and equipping them with the desired competencies.

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/govt-says-kshs-8b-priede-project-has-been-successful/

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Kenya: It’s time to introduce corporal punishment in schools, KUPPET says

Africa/Kenya/12-11-2021/Author: Source: www.kbc.co.ke

The recent wave of arson attacks in schools has seen a good number of secondary schools torched, leaving authorities with no option but close some of the affected institutions.

Amid questions over the motives behind the fires, education stakeholders are proposing drastic measures to curb this trend. The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) wants the Ministry of Education to allow the use of physical punishment so as to ensure more immediate compliant behavior in children.

“Our proposal to the ministry and the teachers service commission is let us bite the bullet and introduce corporal punishment,” KUPPET Busia Branch Secretary-General Morphat Okisai

Besides corporal punishment, Okasai says learners found guilty of indiscipline should be suspended and expelled from school in order to serve as an example to the rest.

“As it stands now, we have allowed the rights of children to override the rights of everybody else,” a tough-talking Okisai charged.

He says learning institutions must be protected from being razed down at all costs to prevent education in the country from being jeopardized by a few “bad elements” in society.

And that’s not all. Okasai says the ministry should consider employing full-time counselors to address student unrest and the torching of schools. He says the counselors who will be enlisted for school programs should be put into the Teachers Service Commission payroll.

He wants the ministry to find a long-lasting solution, reiterating that granting mid-term breaks to students is not a remedy to school unrest.

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/its-time-to-introduce-corporal-punishment-in-schools-kuppet-says/

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Bridge the knowing-doing gap to help fix the global education crisis

Dr Randa Grob-Zakhary, CEO of Education.org, a non-profit independent foundation working to advance evidence and improve education for every leaner.

With over 240 billion school days lost during the pandemic, the global learning crisis demands urgent action from global leaders. We have many of the answers; we are just failing to act.

Credit: Education.org

By 2030, the world has promised to ensure “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. That was the ambition of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4. At the current pace of progress, it is not going to happen.

What would this collective failure mean for the future of our children and communities? For many, the consequences of lost opportunities in basic education are unfathomable.

If we were to write a report card for our world, it would say “try harder”. It would point out that, even before COVID-19 struck and schools around the globe shut down, there were nearly 260 million children out of school.

It would warn that the world is still struggling with the most basic elements of an education that many of us take for granted. Almost 620 million children – roughly six in ten – were not achieving the minimum proficiency standards for reading and maths, with another 100 million likely to join them because of the pandemic.

To make matters worse, the world’s schools have recently been off sick for long periods – over 240 billion days of school have been lost since January 2020 due to COVID-19.

With the ongoing threats of the pandemic, political instability and climate change, is there room at the table for a debate about the global learning crisis? Does the opportunity to press reset and build back better include our children’s education?

We call on the world’s leaders not to ignore the devastating impact that will result from a continued failure to meet our children’s most basic education needs, and which has only been accelerated by COVID-19. There are easy solutions to hand, after all.

Our research shows that a crucial part of the answer can be met by urgently fixing education’s knowing-doing gap. This gap currently creates a disconnect between what we know about improving education from available research, how those insights are translated for and shared with policymakers and practitioners, and what we do in practice.

When I served as Board Member and Chair of the former Strategy and Impact Committee at the Global Partnership for Education, I saw first-hand the damage that this gap inflicted on an education ecosystem that advocates for and funds research but offers little effective support in putting those findings to work.

This gap has painful repercussions, especially for the most vulnerable students, such as marginalised girls or students with different needs, resulting in poor coordination and ill-fitting solutions that do not match the scale or urgency of the challenges we face.

Building an “education knowledge bridge” between researchers, policymakers and practitioners to eliminate this gap would lift millions of children out of deep water and into better lives. A recent White Paper we released, drawing on a thorough 12-month analysis of 45 organisations and 80 interviews with education sector leaders including ministers, academics, funders, NGOs, and international organisations leaders and practitioners, confirmed this. It shows that we have the knowledge we need to make things better, we are just failing to use what we already know.

#NoBridgeNoFuture

Education ministers and country managers of non-governmental organisations bemoan the fact that they struggle to make sense of the latest research in a way that can deliver positive change in their own environments. Crucially, an education knowledge bridge would allow us to make better use of the existing evidence in a way that suits different contexts, by including a broader range of sources and voices that are often left out.

Such a bridge would help us make smarter use of scarce funding by identifying the greatest needs, tailoring solutions and avoiding duplication. It would encourage greater inclusion of policy and teaching voices in the early stages of research,  contribute to stronger, more equitable education systems and allow us to respond more quickly, especially in times of crisis.

We have seen a similar approach produce remarkable results in the healthcare sector. Investment in applied and user-centred health research has been backed up by an established and structured system of synthesising findings to create actionable, relevant and translatable guidance that informs policy and delivers impact.

How can we achieve the same in education?

We identified five key capabilities that must be developed to bridge the knowing-doing gap in education.

First, while existing education research must be put to better use, new research must be designed with the user in mind, involving policymakers and teachers early on to focus academic studies on real-world problems.

One of the major obstacles faced by policymakers is to make sense of all the jigsaw pieces in research, some of which might conflict. Developing a comprehensive and systematic approach to synthesising this information would clear the fog.

However, bringing together diverse research for a generalised audience must also be supported by a process that translates these findings into helpful guidance for policymakers.

Turning guidance into policy and practice requires improved capacity to implement change by engaging stakeholders from all corners of the education ecosystem, reflecting local needs and adapting mid-flow to improve outcomes, if required.

This demands an enabling environment for evidence-based action: focusing on users more than theory, reinforcing existing education systems rather than forging parallel tracks, protecting research independence and policy choices from funding biases, making the most of global and local networks, and prioritising equity in education for all students.

Building an education knowledge bridge will take a global effort involving everyone working in education. Without it, ambitious targets for providing quality education for all will remain out of reach and the world’s school report card will continue to make for painful reading. Change can no longer wait. Advancing evidence can help course correct this trajectory so that our world can improve education for every learner.

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