Methodologies and indicators to reveal the inequalities facing marginalized groups
A new report shows how countries can measure the education progress of the most marginalized populations to ensure no one is left behind. Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all, spanning not only gender parity in learning but also equitable educational opportunities for persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, disadvantaged children and others who are at risk of exclusion from education. Yet today, these groups are extremely difficult to track because they are often invisible in education data.
The handbook explains what it means to measure equity in learning, recognising that equity itself is a political issue and cannot be isolated from political choices. It focuses on two key principles – impartiality and equality of condition.
Impartiality zooms in on the idea that it is unfair to discriminate by characteristics such as gender, wealth or ethnicity when it comes to the distribution of education. Measures of impartiality quantify the extent to which an educational input or outcome differs by such characteristics.
Equality of condition focuses on the dispersion of education in the population, without regard for differences between groups. While perfect equality of condition in education outcomes might not be possible or desirable, wide or growing gaps between the least and most educated are likely to be a cause for concern.
The handbook introduces visualization and measurement techniques related to impartiality and equality of condition, the requirements for the use of underlying data to measure both, and the advantages and disadvantages of each technique for generating insights into the magnitude and nature of any inequality. It provides solid examples of national efforts to track progress towards equity in both educational access and learning, highlighting positive country examples and stressing the need to include a wider range of dimensions of disadvantage in education plans.
Allocating education funding more equitably
Finally, the handbook examines government spending on education to reveal who benefits, who misses out, and how resources could be redistributed to promote equity. It points out that in many countries, the children and young people who are the hardest to reach are often the last to benefit from government spending. It is simply more expensive to ensure their quality education, given the cost of measures to tackle the root causes of their disadvantage, from poverty to discrimination – and this should inform the distribution of resources.
The new handbook has been inspired by the urgent need to position educational equity at the heart of global, national and local agendas to promote access and learning for all children, young people and adults. With countries under pressure to deliver data on an unprecedented scale, the handbook also recognises that no country can do this alone, making a strong case for greater cooperation and support across governments, donors and civil society.