Quality in education
High-quality education is a prerequisite for learning and human development.
Quality is affected by factors both inside and outside the classroom – everything from the availability of a teacher and teaching aids to the child’s starting point when it comes to mother tongue language or general health, for example.
Overall, securing high-quality education is a considerable challenge, particularly for countries with limited resources, where educational systems are prevented from functioning normally.
A global learning crisis
Since 2000, strenuous efforts have been made to include more children in schooling. This was the year the UN Millennium Development Goals and six Education for All Goals were adopted.
Unfortunately, quality in education and in schools was not given equally high priority.
Insufficient focus on quality and learning contributed to what is now referred to as a global learning crisis. A greater number of children than ever before attend school today but many do not learn basic skills during their schooling.
In addition to ensuring that all children are guaranteed schooling, it is vital that schools offer high-quality education. This is a major challenge in many developing countries. If the parents feel that the school has little to offer that is relevant for them, their motivation for sending their children to school will be lowered.
Common challenges for the educational sector in many developing countries can be:
- a shortage of qualified teachers
- overcrowded classrooms
- a lack of teaching materials and poor-quality curricula
- teaching in another language than the students’ mother tongue
In a number of countries language poses a major barrier for children’s ability to learn. Many children are unable to follow the teaching because a language which they do not master is used in class. Being taught in your own language rather than in English or French, for example, is important for enhanced learning and quality in school.
A school day characterized by poor learning outcomes primarily affects many poor, marginalized schoolchildren. The wealthy elite in the relevant countries can afford to pay for top quality education at private schools.
By investing in high-quality education each individual child can be given the opportunity to learn and develop. One of the foundations of economic development and the struggle against poverty is that all children have the opportunity to attend good schools. Research also indicates that ensuring high-quality education is one of the most effective instruments for ensuring democracy and good governance in a country.
In many developing countries there is a need for more teachers and proficient teachers. Good teachers are essential for well-adapted education. Key characteristics include academic knowledge and the ability to communicate and cooperate as well as to follow up pupils individually.
Several elements combine to create good teachers. Quality will depend on what kind of education the teacher has – and how much – as well as his/her personal qualities.
Teachers’ wages are a challenge in many countries. In some places pay is so low that it does not provide a living wage and teachers are then forced to take on additional work in order to survive.
How Norway contributes
In addition to working towards schooling for all children, Norway wishes to enhance educational quality and learning outcomes for children in school. Therefore, Norway underscores the importance of this in the dialogue on Norwegian funding for education bilaterally, multilaterally and through NGOs.
Norway was one of the founders of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF) in 2008. The International Task Force on Teachers for EFA (TFAS) is the first dedicated international alliance of stakeholders working together to address the teacher gap to meet Education For All (EFA) goals. It aims towards qualified and well-resourced teachers being available and supported in all countries to create and enrich the learning opportunities of every child, youth and adult with the overall goal of achieving equal, just and sustainable societies.
One aim of Norwegian support to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is to improve teachers’ effectiveness by educating, recruiting and assisting them in their work such that they can create a good learning experience in the classroom.
Norwegian funding for UNICEF helps to secure education, better quality and improved learning. The teacher is an important provider of learning and UNICEF works locally and nationally to ensure that teachers are recruited and trained, and provided with satisfactory teaching material in the classroom situation.