EDUCATE ALL GIRLS AND BOYSSOUTH ASIA HEADLINE RESULTS - 2017 PROGRESS REPORT

  I refuse to accept that the world is so poor, when just one week of global spending on armies is enough to bring all of our children into classrooms.”

Kailash Satyarthi
2014 Nobel Laureate

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There are an estimated 11.3 million primary, and 20.6 million lower secondary
out-of-school children in South Asia1

UNICEF South Asia is accelerating efforts to achieve this shared vision in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There exists an urgent need to address the persisting challenges of out-of-school children and learning along with ECD and gender equality through primary and secondary education and alternative learning pathways. UNICEF is committed to advance the right to learn for the most disadvantaged children in disaster and conflict prone South Asia.

UNICEF SOUTH ASIA TARGET

12 million currently out-of-school children enjoy quality education by 2017

 
 

GLOBAL TARGET

By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. (SDG 4.1)

ACHIEVING RESULTS

Regional Education Strategy to Educate All Girls and Boys: 12 million currently out-of-school children enjoy quality education by 2017.

theory of change


This holistic approach covers the entire life-cycle of children: starting from infancy to pre-school through elementary and secondary education to ensure further training and employment opportunities for young women and men.

DATA PROFILE


This section covers children of primary and lower-secondary school age, i.e. children ages 5-14. Projections are based on latest available data from the UIS Data Center accessed June 2017 and UNPD 2015 revision. UIS data are regularly updated including historical data.

According to UIS data, globally there were about 263 million out-of-school children and youth, between the ages of 6 and 17, for the school year ending in 2014. Out of those children, 61 million were primary school age (6-11 years old), 60 million were young adolescents (12-14 years old), and 142 million were youth and upper-secondary school age (15-17 years old).

Out of the 263 million out of school children and youth, 100.8 million live in South Asia.
While Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest numbers of out of school children aged 6-14 (55 million), South Asia has the highest number of out-of-school youth aged 15-17 (68.7 million). This makes the region important in terms of challenges and opportunities in education.

Global number of out-of-school children and youth, 2000-2014


Data Source: UIS database 2014, accessed June 2017

The reduction in the numbers of primary out-of-school children has been stagnating since 2007. According to UIS regional estimates, there were 11.3 million out-of-school children of primary school age in South Asia in 2014, out of which 5.5 million are boys and 5.8 million are girls.

Primary out-of-school children in South Asia: historical trend


Data Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics Data Centre, accessed June 2017, and UNPD Population estimates, 2015 revision.

Out-of-school adolescents of lower secondary school age make up the bulk (65 percent) of the 32 million out-of-school children aged 6-14 in the region (2014 baseline for total primary and lower secondary out-of-school children). According to UIS regional estimates, there were 20.6 million out-of-school children of lower secondary school age in South Asia in 2014, out of which 11.7 million are boys and 8.9 million are girls.

Lower Secondary out-of-school children in South Asia: historical trend


Data Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics Data Centre, accessed June 2017, and UNPD Population estimates, 2015 revision.

ACCELERATING CHANGE IN SOUTH ASIA

The following graph shows the evolution of the total number of out-of-school children (children of 6-14 years of age, primary and lower secondary combined) in South Asia. From 1999 to 2013, the blue line represents the historical trend, with a reduction from 72.8 million OOSC to 36.4 million, when the baseline was set for the education headline result.

This helps visualize the added efforts that were needed to meet the reduction target. The red dotted line represents where we were heading, whereas the green line represents where we would have liked to go, in order to meet the objective. The difference between the two lines is the gap we needed to fill by accelerating efforts.

Example of graph showing needed acceleration to reach headline result on Out-of-school children

Total number of OOSC in South Asia: historical trend and projections


Sources: UIS Education database, accessed in April 2015, and UNPD population data, 2015 revision.

Over 2016, ROSA in partnership with COs significantly advanced efforts towards achieving the Headline Result ‘Educate all Girls’ and Boys’ (12 million currently out-of-school children enjoy quality education) through equity profiling and strengthening monitoring systems linked to high impact, cost effective quality education interventions at national and sub-national levels in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The SAARC Framework for Action on Education SDG 4 facilitated by the SAARC Secretariat, UNICEF and UNESCO has given a big boost to South Asian governments to complete the Unfinished Business of EFA/MDG and OOSC alongside investment in early childhood education and learning.

Although there is still much work to do in South Asia, particularly India, in order to reach the Headline Results target there is some promising progress. The 2016 ASER annual assessment, which is the largest citizen led assessment globally, highlighted a 26 per cent reduction in OOSC in India (from 8 to 6 million). A combination of things has been instrumental in driving this change, including the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2010 and improvements in learning levels for the first time in several years, this, without any increase in children’s participation in private schools. Preliminary analysis indicates that some of the key factors in driving this change have included political will (particularly at State level), leadership, targeted investment to improve teaching quality and school management, along with equity based planning, supported by stronger Education 11

Management Information Systems. Remarkable improvements in the school environment including girls’ access to usable toilets which went from 33 per cent in 2010 to 62 per cent in 2016, also played a key role in providing a more conductive learning environment.
In May, ROSA with UNICEF Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Education organized the first ever high level South Asia Symposium on Sustainable Peace and Education bringing senior government officials, eminent academics, journalists and civil society to identify approaches on how education can promote peace, social cohesion and resilience in a region where millions of OOSC live in conflict affected zones.21 This has resulted in knowledge platforms for academics and practitioners towards new avenues of risk-informed education programming in the region.
In 2016, ROSA stepped up its efforts to use knowledge management as a main vehicle to support countries in achieving results in Education, through linking evidence generation to results. Social media and other platforms (internal and external) were used for sharing, good practices and lessons learned. This has included the development of a community of practice around Peacebuilding Education following the May Symposium on the subject. The launch of the Education Team’s e-bulletin also facilitated knowledge exchange and sharing.
In July, the high level Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) organized by the Government of Malaysia, UNESCO, UNICEF (EAPRO & ROSA) and the Asia Pacific Network on Early Childhood resulted in greater commitment by governments to invest in the historically under- funded pre-schooling sector.
The evaluation of the Child Friendly Approach (CFA), a UNICEF and Government of Sri Lanka initiative, demonstrated that CFA successfully improved school planning, monitoring of attendance and drop-outs, and holistic child development. It also highlighted gaps in implementing child-centered pedagogies and improving learning outcomes. Also, the UNICEF-Educational Initiatives evaluation of Activity Based Learning concluded that this child-centred pedagogy significantly reduced learning gaps, social barriers and discrimination when imbedded within state educational programs with sufficient support for teachers. Building on these, India CO and Sri Lanka CO evaluations completed in collaboration with ROSA, ROSA is launching a systematic review of which policies and strategies will most significantly contribute to improving teaching and learning outcomes across South Asia.
ROSA in partnership with Afghanistan CO and the Government has supported the development of the first ever National Girls’ Education Strategy for the country which has an updated situation analysis and an ambitious results framework. Despite tremendous progress in enrolment over the last decade, 75 per cent of the 3.5 million OOSC are girls.


Country-level Actions in 2016 towards achieving the ROSA Education Headline Result

Case study: Alternative learning pathway for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable out-of-school adolescents in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, 40 per cent of secondary-school-age adolescents are out of school and vulnerable to violence and abuse, including child marriage, child labour, drug addiction, and physical and psychological violence. There are very few alternative pathways for continuing education that can link them with jobs and a decent life. In partnership with BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, UNICEF supported the adaptation of the traditional Ustad- Sagred (Master-Learner) model of teaching-learning to include supervised informal apprenticeships in which selected learners receive on-the-job training from a master tradesman, following competency-based training and assessment. Along with this training, the learners received classes on trade and soft skills training to prepare them for employment. This intervention is helping 18,900 of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable out-of-school adolescents by bringing them back to the learning ladder, equipping then with relevant skills, and providing opportunities for employment and decent work. More than 50 per cent of participants are the most disadvantaged and vulnerable adolescent girls, and at least 10 per cent of learners are children with disabilities. One of the initiative’s notable positive impacts is to delay marriage among young adolescents. It has also helped challenge some of the social barriers and stigma related to gender-biased work distribution and female mobility. Documented as a successful initiative, it is now set for nationwide scale-up under the technical education stream in Bangladesh.

Inequities in education persist among countries in South Asia. Specific groups of children are more likely to be excluded from education, in particular children from the poorest families, girls, children with disabilities, and children from rural remote areas.

In India, there has been a 2.09 million reduction in OOSC numbers from 2009 to 2014 which is a result of the enactment and implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.2 The highest reductions in OOSC numbers was registered in rural areas, and for the 11-13 age group. The numbers of OOSC in urban areas however increased by 240,000 between 2009 and 2014. UNICEF India worked in partnership with government and civil society at national and state level to drive acceleration in OOSC reduction as well as substantial increases in the education sector budget alongside institutional reform and field level innovation.

India OOSC numbers, 2009 and 2014, by sex, urban-rural and age group


Data source: Social & Rural Research Institute (SRRI) 2014 report, IMRB International

Progress in the reduction of OOSC numbers in India needs to be further investigated by looking at the state-wise situation. Six States alone account for 75 percent of the 6.06 million out-of-school children ages 6-13 as of 2014. Uttar Pradesh alone is home to 27 percent of India’s out-of-school children while Bihar accounts for 19 percent and Rajasthan, 10 percent indicating the States with the highest burden. Furthermore, given the complex nature of the out-of-school population, it important to look at all possible levels of data disaggregation.

“Education is at the heart of the sustainable development agenda and essential for the success of all sustainable development goals.” – Education 2030 / SDG 4 Global Framework for Action

On 25 September 2015, the international community led by the UN and Heads of State endorsed a new sustainable development agenda. The set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved until 2030. In particular, SDG 4 commits countries and the international community to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” An Education 2030 Global Framework for Action has also been endorsed by countries to guide the implementation modalities as well as financing to meet SDG 4 targets. UNICEF sees the adoption of the SDGs as a historic opportunity to advance the rights and well-being of every child, especially the most disadvantaged. It is also chance to secure a healthy, peaceful planet for today’s children and future generations.3 The SDG’s focus on inclusion and equity – giving everyone an equal opportunity, and leaving no one behind signals captured in the UNICEF South Asia Headline Result: “Educate all girls and boys: 12 million currently out-of-school children enjoy quality education.”

In line with the SDGs and the Headline Result, UNICEF ROSA is committed to expand efforts to reach children marginalized from education by gender inequality, poverty, conflict and disaster, disability, remoteness of location and other factors. Emphasis is also given on both education quality and learning, supporting countries to not only concentrate on access to education but also ensuring students are learning either through formal schooling or alternative options.

To support countries meet the SDGs and the Education Headline Result, ROSA is collaborating with UNESCO and the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretariat to draft a SAARC Framework for Action for Education 2030 for approval at the SAARC Education Ministers Meeting in the Maldives in Oct/Nov. 2016. The Framework aims to institutionalize regional coordination, partnerships and networks, and monitoring of SDG4 taking into account the South Asia context. The Framework will be developed within the broader scope of the global Framework for Action for Education 2030. The Framework will include clear regional targets, realistic results with timelines and clear regional coordination mechanisms and monitoring of SDG 4 progress. The framework will also give space to South-South cooperation through study visits, joint research and joint advocacy, among others. A proposed Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization-SAARC collaboration in education can further boost South-South cooperation for education. Moreover, through a collaboration with the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Office and UNICEF EAPRO, ROSA is co-chairing the Asia-Pacific Thematic Working Group on Education 2030+ which is positioned to be the main regional coordination mechanism among UN agencies and development partners to support countries achieve the SDGs, particularly SDG 4. ROSA is also committed to co-convene with UNESCO and EAPRO Education SDG meetings for the wider Asia-Pacific region, engaging countries and development partners to meet the SDGs and also to prioritize the unfinished EFA/MDG agenda of getting all children to school.

RESEARCH, KNOWLEDGE, EVALUATION

From Education to Employability: Preparing South Asian Youth for the World of Work
South Asia is home to the largest share of the world’s youth. With 48 percent of its population below the age of 24, South Asia’s youth offer the potential to drive its economies to be more vibrant and productive. Yet optimism over the region’s so-called demographic dividend is tempered by questions about whether existing education systems are adequately preparing young people to make the leap from education to a 21st century world of work.

While significant progress has been made towards achieving universal primary education, education systems in South Asia are fraught with many challenges ranging from deficient resources and poor quality to rising instability and conflict. In the interim, facing pressure to enable their growing youth populations to find work on the one hand, and to supply their changing and growing industries with workers on the other, governments are instituting vocational training programs. There is clearly a need for skills development, but it cannot be a substitute for all that basic education provides. Education and skills training systems must form a continuum with education laying the foundation for a deeper development of vocational skills, and on the job training to ultimately improve employment outcomes and generate sustainable livelihoods.

As envisaged by the Sustainable Development Goals, there is an urgent need to bridge the worlds of education and employment in order to harness the huge potential of youth. Just Jobs Network in partnership with UNICEF has completed this study which provides a comprehensive mapping of the secondary education and skills sector alongside analysing key trends that affect education and labour market outcomes. The study concludes with a set of recommendations for policy, domestic financing and public-private partnership; possible interventions in schools and alternative learning pathways; and suggestions for expanding the evidence base on the nexus of education, skills and employability.

Regional Study on Child Marriage, Adolescents, Pregnancy and School dropout: The level of association among child marriage, teenage pregnancy and education attainments in South Asia
One of the five entry points UNICEF ROSA considers to accelerate progress against child marriage and increase girls' participation in secondary education includes the generation and use of a robust evidence base for sound programming and advocacy. Further, these trends highlight the need for UNICEF ROSA to strengthen efforts to address the barriers to school enrolment, attendance, learning and completing basic education at primary and secondary level of education.

Regional evaluation on the contribution of child friendly education on teaching and learning
Phase 1
: Mapping of Education Quality and Learning Initiatives in South Asia
Phase 2: Evaluation of UNICEF’s contribution to improving learning through the Child Friendly School approach

There is a need for in-depth study of UNICEF’s work to promote the quality of education and learning across South Asia. The report from this evaluation will serve as a basis for sharing information with and between partners, and to identify good and promising practices on improving education quality and learning outcomes in the region. UNICEF ROSA will utilize the mapping to promote evidence-based programming and strengthen linkages between country offices and other institutions engaged in the development of programme strategies to successfully improve learning environments and outcomes for children in the region. The lessons learned and recommendations will be used by UNICEF country office staff engaged in education programming and mainstreaming or converging approaches in the eight countries of the region as well as line ministries to shape strategies around improving education quality.

Regional Study on Early Literacy and Multilingual Education in South Asia
SDG4 focuses on increased and expanded access, equity and inclusion, quality and learning outcomes as well as lifelong learning. Taking this into account, UNICEF ROSA is focusing on a holistic approach starting from infancy, pre-school, primary and through secondary education to labour market, addressing vulnerability points along the way. Given the context, exploring the strong relationship and building the evidence base on language and learning and developing country guidelines require close attention in South Asia region.


Global/Regional Publications

South Asia: Roadmap for Action to meet SDG 4 on Education

First ever South Asian symposium on Sustainable Peace and Education

Moving forward on the agenda of ECD in Asia-Pacific with the Putrajaya Declaration

UNICEF ROSA Education Newsletter: Peace Building and Education: May 2016

UNICEF ROSA Education Newsletter: September 2016

ROSA Update: GETM 2016

UNICEF South Asia: Regional Education Network Meeting Report and Shared Vision for Education in South Asia

Comprehensive School Safety in South Asia: Concepts, Frameworks and Implementation. Report of the RoundTable, 24- 25 August 2016

UNICEF and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Social Cohesion and Education of Children and Youth in Pakistan: End-line Study, 2016.

UNICEF, Coming together to revitalize earthquake-hit communities in Nepal. One school at a time (Photo Story), 2016.

UNICEF, Improving Education Participation: Policy and Practice Pointers for Enrolling All Children and Adolescents in School and Preventing Dropout, 2017

UNICEF, Out of School Children in Gilgit-Baltistan, 2016.

UNICEF, Out of School Children in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, 2016

UNICEF, Simulations for Equity in Education (SEE) Balochistan Model, 2016

Government of Nepal, Ministry of Women and Child Development and United Nations Children’s Fund, Quality Standards for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), 2014, accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Bangkok, Innovative Financing for Out-of-School Children and Youth, accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Statistics, Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All – Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children , accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Children’s Fund, The Investment Case for Education and Equity, accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Children’s Fund, National Studies: Global Out-of-School Children Initiative (OOSCI): India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Children’s Fund, Promoting Care for Child Development in Community Health Services – a summary of the Pakistan Early Childhood Development Scale-Up Trial, 2013, accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Children’s Fund India, Quality in Early Childhood Care and Education – Pictorial Handbook for Practitioners, 2013, accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Office for South Asia, Meeting the Educational Needs of Children with Disabilities in Bhutan and the Maldives: A Gap Analysis, accessed 3 April 2015.

United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Office for South Asia, All children in School by 2015 – Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children – South Asia regional study covering Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, South Asia Study: Global Out-of-School Children Initiative (OOSCI), accessed 3 April 2015.

UNESCO: Global Education Monitoring Report 2016: Education for people and planet: The 2016 edition of the GEM Report provides valuable insight for governments and policy makers to monitor and accelerate progress towards SDG 4, building on the indicators and targets, with equity and inclusion as measures of overall success.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics: Sustainable Development Data Digest. Laying the Foundation to Measure Sustainable Development Goal 4 This report offers a roadmap for better measurement and it also documents how key targets and indicators were developed through a country-led process guided by a global and thematic expert and advisory group.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report: Leaving no one behind: How far on the way to universal primary and secondary education?

Education Violence Against Children in Education Settings in South Asia: A desk review April 2016
The desk review commissioned by the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) has found that many children in South Asia are exposed to different forms of violence and threats in schools and other educational settings.

UNICEF Report: The State of the World’s Children 2016

Educate All Girls and Boys in South Asia (UNICEF ROSA, 2015) - Finalized in September 2015, this brochure/fact sheet shows the latest data and forecasts on the out-of-school children in South Asia. It includes information and infographics on the number of OOSC in South Asia and the progress since 1999.

What are countries in South Asia doing to meet the learning needs of out-of-school children? (2015) - This paper was presented in the 2015 UKFIET Conference on Education and Development that was held in the Oxford University from 17-19 September 2015. The study documents specific policies and interventions in the four countries underway to ensure that all children have access to learning opportunities via the formal education system or via alternative pathways to education, and by strengthening the equity focus in education sector plans.

Effective Interventions Aimed at Reaching Out-of-School Children A Literature Review (2015, UNICEF ROSA) - This paper aggregates the academic literature reviewing and reporting interventions for out-of-school children (OOSC) around the world to serve as a guide for potential interventions in South Asia and elsewhere. It complements the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children (OOSCI) South Asia Regional Study (2014).

Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: South Asia Regional Study (January 2014, UNICEF ROSA) - based on the country reports from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, this report studies the situation of OOSC in South Asia.

REAL LIVES, REAL CHANGE

Asma Akhter Akhi, Bangladesh
©UNICEF Bangladesh Country Office

Case study: Alternative learning pathway for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable out-of-school adolescents

In Bangladesh, 40 per cent of secondary-school-age adolescents are out of school and vulnerable to violence and abuse, including child marriage, child labour, drug addiction, and physical and psychological violence. There are very few alternative pathways for continuing education that can link them with jobs and a decent life. In partnership with BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, UNICEF supported the adaptation of the traditional Ustad- Sagred (Master-Learner) model of teaching-learning to include supervised informal apprenticeships in which selected learners receive on-the-job training from a master tradesman, following competency-based training and assessment. Along with this training, the learners received classes on trade and soft skills training to prepare them for employment. This intervention is helping 18,900 of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable out-of-school adolescents by bringing them back to the learning ladder, equipping then with relevant skills, and providing opportunities for employment and decent work. More than 50 per cent of participants are the most disadvantaged and vulnerable adolescent girls, and at least 10 per cent of learners are children with disabilities. One of the initiative’s notable positive impacts is to delay marriage among young adolescents. It has also helped challenge some of the social barriers and stigma related to gender-biased work distribution and female mobility. Documented as a successful initiative, it is now set for nationwide scale-up under the technical education stream in Bangladesh.

Sources:
UIS and UNICEF Out-of-School Children Initiative Global Report 2015.
UIS Online Data Center, August 2014 and February 2015.
UNICEF Bangladesh, India and Nepal Country Offi ce Annual Reports 2014.
UNICEF, Every Child Counts: The State of the World’s Children 2014 in Numbers, New York, accessed 3 April 2015.

Endnotes:
1. UIS 2014
2. Data from the “National Sample Survey of Estimation of Out-of-School Children in the Age 6-13 in India”, SRRI-IMRB International Report 2009 and 2014, which is a household survey commissioned by India’s Ministry of Human Resource and Development focusing on OOSC.
3. UNICEF. Global Goals for Every Child. 2015.