About 40% of low and lower-middle income countries have not supported disadvantaged learners during Covid-19 school shutdown, according to 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report of Unesco, revealed at a recent World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) event.
The second part of Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined series, a three-day event organised by WISE, a think tank of Qatar Foundation in collaboration with Salzburg Global Seminar and HolonIQ was concluded on Thursday. The report also points that less than 10% of countries have laws that help ensure full inclusion in education.
Discussing the report at the WISE forum, GEM director, Manos Antoninis of Unesco, said, “Identity, background and ability still dictate education opportunities and children with disabilities are two-and-a-half times more likely never to go to school than their peers and, in at least 20 countries, no girls in poor rural areas complete secondary school.”
The 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report: Inclusion and education – All means all says, “There is an exacerbation of exclusion during the Covid-19 pandemic and 40% of low and lower-middle income countries have not supported disadvantaged learners during Covid-19 school shutdown.”
The report provides an in-depth analysis of key factors for exclusion of learners in education systems worldwide including background, identity and ability such as gender, age, location, poverty, disability, ethnicity, indigeneity, language, religion, migration or displacement status, sexual orientation or gender identity expression, incarceration, beliefs and attitudes.
The report urges countries to focus on those left behind as schools reopen so as to foster more resilient and equal societies.
The report also found that inequality has contributed to the education crisis caused by Covid-19. It also states that understanding of the importance of inclusive education needs to be widened, funding should be focused on those left behind, governments should encourage parents and communities to help design inclusive education policies; and inclusive practice should be a core rather than a specialised topic for teachers’ development.
“In a world increasingly faced with uncertainty and precariousness,” said Antoninis, “inclusion has to be central to the future of education.”
This year’s GEM report notes that 258mn children and youth were entirely excluded from education, with poverty as the main obstacle to access. It also points out that 10-year old students in middle and high-income countries who were taught in a language other than their mother tongue typically scored 34% below native speakers in reading tests. In 10 low- and middle-income countries, children with disabilities were found to be 19% less likely to achieve minimum proficiency in reading than those without disabilities.
GEM Report team has also launched a new website, PEER, with information on laws and policies concerning inclusion in education for every country in the world. PEER shows that many countries still practise education segregation, which reinforces stereotyping, discrimination and alienation. However, the report has highlighted that many countries were using positive, innovative approaches to transition towards inclusion. Many were setting up resource centres for multiple schools and enabling mainstream establishments to accommodate children from special schools.
“Covid-19 has given us a real opportunity to think afresh about our education systems. But moving to a world that values and welcomes diversity won’t happen overnight. There is an obvious tension between teaching all children under the same roof and creating an environment where students learn best. But, Covid-19 has showed us that there is scope to do things differently, if we put our minds to it,” added Antoninis.