An exciting prospect: Learning Metrics Task Force leads shift in education sector

If you have been paying attention, you will know that a big shift is fast taking hold in the education sector. We are no longer talking about access to education alone. The focus is increasingly on access plus learning. And it is fair to say that no one has done more to catalyze that shift and provide the tools to deepen that than the Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF). I was privileged to attend the Task Force’s meeting in Washington, D.C. last week as an observer.

The LMTF is an initiative that brings together an impressive range of the key stakeholders in the education community – led by Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Learning and UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics.

Following extensive consultations with almost 2,000 people in over 100 countries, the LMTF came up with 7 key recommendations, which were launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Recommendation # 3 in particular is setting the education community abuzz and could potentially lead to transformation in the quality of education for children and young people everywhere.  

Calling for “a small set of learning indicators to be tracked in all countries”, the seven indices recommended range from the more traditional measures of reading and numeracy, to far more progressive ones, including “breadth of learning” and – my personal favourite – “citizen of the world.”

Some of the indicators are well established, while others will need further development. This presents an exciting opportunity for a range of partners of the LMTF, including, crucially, young people.

The Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group (GEFI YAG), for example, has indicated a strong interest in working with Brookings, UNESCO and other partners to explore the “citizen of the world” indicator.

Youth leaders have been expressing a particularly strong interest and excitement about the potential of the concept of “global citizenship” and we are thrilled to see it as one of the key recommendations of the LMTF.

In the coming months, GEFI Youth will work with key partners to lead an open and engaging consultation with other young people around the world to first define what it means to be a citizen of the world and then agree on the indicators by which it must be measured across different countries. That is indeed an exciting prospect.

At the meeting in Washington, the stakeholders agreed to build on the momentum this work is generating and put in place concrete mechanisms to begin to support a select group of countries to start implementing these recommendations.

We continue to face a daunting education crisis. 57 million children are out of school, with a staggering 250 million more not learning.  The LMTF is an important piece of work that will be critical to getting the solution to this crisis right. We need to get every child in school. But to be sure they’re learning, we need to be confident in the quality of the education in these schools. 

With indicators that everyone, including young people, develops together, we can more effectively ensure we are providing the education children want and need – and through this build the world we want to see together.

Who knew that an initiative about measurement of learning would be so exciting?!