This year’s report focuses on the role of non-state actors in education. It finds that high costs, insufficient government oversight and a lack of regulation of private educational institutions in many countries are exacerbating inequality. Around the world, 350 million children and young people attend non-state schools, about one million of them in Germany. Regulations for the private education sector or the capacity to implement such regulations are often lacking. According to the UNESCO report, this has a negative impact on the quality of education and exacerbates inequality between rich and poor.
Minister of State Katja Keul emphasised the importance of cooperation between state and non-state actors in education:
It is immensely important that all these actors work closely together and pool their resources. At the same time, it is also important to think time and again about how state and non-state actors can work together in a way that benefits children and gives rise to greater educational equality at the end of the day. [...] Education is a question of justice and prosperity for each and every individual, and also for us as a global community. It is the basis for achieving almost all of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Actors in the education landscape: myths about state and non-state actors in education are prevalent worldwide – UNESCO is calling for improved state oversight for private education institutions
The Global Education Monitoring Report 2021/2 examines the role played by non-state and state actors in education. It draws attention to fallacies that exist around the world and encourages policymakers to review relationships with non-state actors in education and to put in place regulations for promoting more equitable and quality education.
The report shows, for example, that public education is not necessarily free of charge. In low- and middle-income countries, for example, an estimated one third of household education expenditure comes from households with children in public schools. The report also draws attention to the diversity of non-state actors in the education sector, which goes far beyond the simple dichotomy of public vs private schools. For example, non-state actors dominate in early childhood education and in adult education. These actors, whether for-profit or NGOs, pursue their own priorities and are accountable to different groups. The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report therefore recommends critically analysing where freedom of choice is not at the expense of equal opportunities and where private sector and civil society initiatives should be encouraged but also regulated to ensure equitable access and quality standards in education.
State of education worldwide – COVID-19 as a setback to achieving SDG 4
In addition to its primary focus, UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report provides information on the state of education worldwide and evaluates progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) of the UN 2030 Agenda. Unsurprisingly, this year’s report notes that there have been setbacks in the implementation of SDG 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of prolonged school closures is cited as a particular cause for concern. Negative impacts are being felt by disadvantaged learners in particular. According to the report, globally, the use and expansion of effective digital tools for distance learning, also after the pandemic, will have a negative impact on equal opportunities in the short to medium term. This is because, around the world, only one in three children, and among the poorest only one in six, has access to the internet.