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The right to inclusive, quality education: Global education strategy 2015-2020

The right to inclusive, quality education


The right to inclusive, quality education: Global education strategy 2015-2020

The goal of Plan International’s education work is that every child completes a quality, inclusive education that covers at least early learning, primary and secondary education, in formal or non-formal education settings, at the appropriate age, in a safe and supportive learning environment.

This strategy is based on decades of experience of education programming. It sets out how Plan International can make the greatest contribution to all children realising their right to inclusive, quality education. It provides focus and guidance for our work in education by applying our distinctive Child Centred Community Development approach. Priorities for action and key interventions over the period 2015-2020 are spelled out, to guide work at national and local levels, and with children, parents and communities.


Executive Summary

Realising children’s right to education

Every child has the right to a quality education, but many factors prevent millions of children from realising this right. Their lack of education has far reaching consequences, not only for the children themselves, but also for their families, communities, countries – and the economic and social prospects of the world as a whole. 
This strategy sets out how Plan International can make the greatest contribution to all children realising their right to inclusive, quality education. It provides focus and guidance for our work in education over the next five years, 2015-2020, by applying our distinctive Child Centred Community Development (CCCD) approach.

The strategy has been developed drawing on experience from across Plan International and the wider development sector. It is built on our substantial work in education at all different levels, from informal learning and community schools to major national and global initiatives. It is rooted in our core strengths, which include CCCD and our focus on community empowerment, long term relationships with communities and an ability to engage with policy makers at all levels. Taken together, these strengths enable us to make a major and distinct contribution to enhancing education for all. 

This strategy carries forward the previous Global Education Strategy’s rights based approach and its focus on Access, Quality and Governance. In addition, a specific component on institutions, policy and law has been included. The strategy emphasises inclusion and gender equality; continuous and holistic learning; community engagement in education governance and accountability processes; and advocacy. The strategy is closely aligned to the proposed vision for a post-2015 education framework that focuses on equity, equality and participation. 

The global education strategy defines four focus areas and identifies key outcomes and key interventions to guide programming. The focus areas are: 

  1. Institutions, policy and law: The way that governments set policy, and implement laws and budgets has national implications for the availability and quality of education. In order to increase their effectiveness, policies, legislation and budgets should respond to the human and child rights framework, and be developed with the meaningful involvement of children and communities. 
  2. Equal access, transition and completion: Education should be available and accessible to all children without discrimination, meaning that children not only enrol but are also supported to transition between, and complete, different levels of education. A range of barriers must be overcome to include those children who might otherwise be excluded from learning opportunities. 
  3. Quality education: Education should be delivered in a safe and child-friendly environment, and should provide a broad range of life experiences and learning processes. It should promote human rights and gender equality, and be adapted to meet the diverse needs of students, including children with disabilities, and children from different ethnic, religious and cultural groups. 
  4. Accountability and participatory governance: Governments and public authorities are responsible for promoting and fulfilling children’s right to education. Children and young people have the right to participate in education governance and decision making, and parents, teachers and local leaders should support this participation. Education systems and institutions must be accountable for their performance, and be open and responsive to children, youth and their communities. 

The global context

The right to learn

As a fundamental right, every child is entitled to a free and compulsory quality primary education, and access to free pre-primary, secondary and post-secondary education. Governments have a formal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the right to formal and primary education without discrimination and exclusion, including during emergencies. Education should not be equated only with schooling, but with broader learning in formal and non-formal settings. Accessible and quality formal as well as non-formal education is needed in order to develop people’s full potential and improve their lives.

The global situation

The Education for All (EFA) agenda and work in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have contributed to substantial progress in access to both formal and non-formal education. However, 58 million boys and girls of primary school age, and 69 million adolescents are out of school. Of these, 28.5 million live in conflict and emergency affected areas. Girls; children with disabilities; children from ethnic, cultural or linguistic minority groups; and children living in poor and remote areas are most often excluded from education. In the poorest 20 per cent of households, only 64 per cent of all school aged children enrol in school, compared to 90 per cent of children in the richest 20 per cent of households. In addition, early learning - vital for a child’s development - is usually neglected by governments.

After a quarter of a century of ‘Education for All’ endeavours, enrolment rates have improved but the quality of education has not. In around a third of countries, less than 75% of primary school teachers are trained according to national standards. As a result of poor quality education, an estimated 250 million children worldwide are not learning basic skills. At secondary level, the 2012 Global Monitoring Report estimates that 200 million adolescents, including those who complete secondary school, do not have the relevant skills needed for life and employment.

Insufficient government financing is one of the main barriers to achieving good quality education for all. Education spending typically benefits the most privileged and those living in urban areas. According to the World Bank, for example, the 10 per cent most educated children receive 43 per cent of public education spending in low-income sub-Saharan African countries.

Redistribution policies to ensure equitable distribution of resources are vital for achieving more equal education outcomes and improving learning for the most marginalised.

Plan International's approach to education

The Global Education Strategy is based on decades of experience of education programming. It is firmly grounded in our rights-based CCCD approach. Our commitment to education is also clearly articulated as a priority in our sponsorship commitments.

We work comprehensively with children, families, communities, wider civil society and government authorities and institutions to mobilise all society for realising children’s right to education. This includes a strong component of advocacy from grassroots up to international levels, in both development and emergency settings.

We recognise the increasing role of private education, partly as a result of shortcomings in public provision. However, we are committed to sustainable, scaled up education programmes. Our emphasis is on strengthening state systems.

We recognise that the provision of infrastructure (such as school buildings) is a fundamental part of the right to education. But, by themselves, buildings do not guarantee education. Our work therefore integrates infrastructure into the wider strategic aim of quality and inclusive education for all, using our CCCD focus on community empowerment. This means that Plan International should not be a contractor that builds schools at large scale. Infrastructure should be designed with the active engagement of children, parents and the community, to ensure that it is culturally appropriate, safe and inclusive for all children.

A distinctive contribution
Building on our experience, this strategy sets out Plan International’s distinctive contribution through our focus on Inclusive, Quality Education. This is achieved through a commitment across all education programming to strengthen:

Inclusion and gender equality
Building on progress made on gender equality, girls’ education, and work with children with disabilities and ethnic minorities, we will strengthen efforts to identify barriers and address the different needs of different children.

Continuous, holistic education – enabling life long learning
Our programmes will strengthen the capacities of parents and caregivers to support education, and work to support integration across different stages of education, between formal and non-formal and incorporating broader concerns of child welfare.

Education governance and accountability – strengthening systems
Education is not just a service to be provided, but an essential democratic practice developed jointly by all parts of the society. Our programmes will strengthen community engagement in school governance and education processes, and build links between communities, civil society and government institutions to influence policy, budgets and public accountability for better education.