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(November 2012) As the 2015 deadline approaches for achieving the Education for All goals, UNESCO and the Brookings Institute’s Center for Universal Education are joining together in a new effort to measure quality in education. While much attention has focused on improving access to school programs for all children and youth, access is only a first step. In order to ensure that education opportunities are truly effective, methods for measuring outcomes are also needed. To address this concern, education and development leaders have been invited to serve on the newly formed Learning Metrics Task Force.
Dr. Diana Weber, a Senior Literacy and Education Consultant for SIL, will participate in the Measures and Methods Working Group for Primary Level. This team will work together over the course of the next seven months to develop recommendations for how learning can best be measured. They will also contribute to a dialogue on global development and collaborate on global sharing of successful methods. The working group’s first assignment is to pool knowledge of available assessments of early childhood learning that could be recommended at a global level or as options that countries could adopt at the national and regional level.
As SIL’s representative, Dr. Weber will bring an important perspective to the table: SIL recognizes the key role of local languages in all development, including making education truly accessible and effective for all students. The best schools in the world are ineffective when students don’t understand the language used by their teacher or printed in their textbooks. Around the world, children and youth from ethnolinguistic minority communities struggle to benefit from available education because school is conducted in a language that is unfamiliar to them, rather than the language they speak at home. Studies have shown that student success increases dramatically when the language of instruction is the students’ mother tongue.
The Learning Methods Task Force is scheduled to release a final report in September 2013. Its recommendations are not binding, but can be adopted
as education leaders in a given country see fit. The report will include recommendations for:
SIL contributes to the Education for All goals through language development efforts such as multilingual education and mother tongue literacy for children and adults. SIL is an official NGO partner of UNESCO with consultative status.
Above: While classroom settings differ, children around the world are engaged and excited about learning when school is taught in the language they know best. Clockwise from top left, students and teachers from ethnolinguistic minority communities of Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Kenya, Senegal, China, Vanuatu, Jamaica and Uganda.