Special Feature

Edu needs major transformation to reach global dev goals: Report

07 Sep,2016


Special Report:

Bangladesh is expected to achieve universal primary education in 2055 and universal lower secondary education in 2075 while universal upper secondary education not until the next century.

The new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by Unesco came up with this findings.

The GEM report showed the potential for education to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).

It also showed that education needs a major transformation to fulfill that potential and meet the current challenges facing humanity and the planet.

“Schools, communities and businesses (in Bangladesh) all need to think about how they are making sure young people have the skills and knowledge to make the move to greener industries and greener ways of living,” Aaron Benavot, Director of the GEM Report, told UNB responding to Bangladesh specific questions.

He said floods and cyclones in Bangladesh have destroyed thousands of schools in the past decade, as other climate-related disasters have devastated school systems in many other parts of the world.

“If we want to address our pressing environmental and societal problems, we need to take a long hard look at what and how we are learning,” said Benavot who has decades of experience in global education policy analysis and comparative research.

Responding to a question, he said Bangladesh, like many other countries in the world, are going to be decades late in achieving its global education commitments.

“New policies and innovative approaches must be taken to change this course. But the change in mindset needed to combat the most challenging environmental issues isn’t going to happen on its own, and certainly not by hanging all our hopes on today’s students,” Benavot explained.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populous and most flood-prone countries and climate experts project that by 2050, 27 million people will be at risk from sea level rise.

“With increasing frequency of floods, many environmental migrants from rural areas become slum dwellers in Dhaka, the densely populated capital. Unsurprisingly, the school system is routinely affected by climate-related challenges,” Kate Redman, Communications and Advocacy Specialist of GEM Report, told UNB.

Providing Bangladesh specific statistics, Redman said education can be used to raise awareness of climate change, reduce vulnerability to it and mitigate its consequences.

“Schools can increase knowledge and awareness of the environment and climate change by incorporating environmental sustainability into classroom materials and curricula.”

“A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of our planet,” said Unesco Director-General, Irina Bokova.

“Now, more than ever, education has a responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive growth, and peaceful living together.”

Yet only 6 percent of adults in the poorest countries, and less than 1 percent in Bangladesh have ever attended literacy programmes.

“If we want a greener planet, and sustainable futures for all, we must ask more from our education systems than just a transfer of knowledge. We need our schools and lifelong learning programmes to focus on economic, environmental and social perspectives that help nurture empowered, critical, mindful and competent citizens.” said Benavot.

In Bangladesh, after the National Curriculum and Textbook Board prepared and endorsed a school manual on climate change and health protection, 1,515 students in 30 schools received classroom training based on the manual while 1,778 students in 30 control schools received a leaflet on climate change and health issues instead.

Six months later, results of a post intervention test performed at both schools showed that the training led to dramatic increases in children’s knowledge of the topic.

The poorest females have almost 6 fewer years of education to their name than the richest males in Bangladesh, according to available data.

In Bangladesh, the rise in female educational attainment may have accelerated the country’s remarkable fertility decline, including by lengthening the interval between births.

The median interval increased by 26 percent between 1991 and 2007, to 44 months. By 2007, birth intervals were about 40% longer among women with secondary or higher education than among illiterate women.

Access to electricity has been shown to have a positive impact on education outcomes in many countries, including Bangladesh.

Inequality in education, interacting with wider disparities, heightens the risk of violence and conflict.

A recent study drawing on data from 100 countries over 50 years found that countries with higher levels of inequality in schooling were much more likely to experience conflict.

The Report called on governments to start taking inequalities in education seriously, tracking them by collecting information directly from families.

The new global development agenda called for education ministers and other education actors to work in collaboration with other sectors.

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