The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Pursuit of Quality Education for All: A Statement of Support from Education International and ASCD

ASCD, Education International, Feb 17, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In my email today: "ASCD and Education International (EI) ... are calling for a clear definition of quality education that places the needs of the child at the fore." From the press release you can link to this declaration, which piggybacks on the U.N. declaration to advance their own agenda (they don't even link to it). So, you may ask, what is a "quality education"? Here's their take on it (quoted, and converted to a list):

  • focuses on the whole child—the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each student;
  • each child enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle;
  • environment that is physically and emotionally safe;
  • actively engaged in learning and connected to the school and broader community;
  • has access to personalized learning;
  • challenged academically and prepared for success;
  • provides the outcomes needed for individuals, communities, and societies to prosper.

According to the statement, a quality education is supported by three key pillars: quality tools, quality teachers, and quality environments. "Education advocates have a responsibility to promote policies that integrate schools, communities, and nations into a system that supports development of the whole child, ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged." We could have a long conversation about this.

I agree that learners should be engaged, supported, and challenged (and everybody should be healthy and safe). But that has many meanings; does it have to be provided by a teacher in a school? It might be that our methods create, rather than solve, the problem the U.N. is really attempting to address: 57 million children remain out of school, 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women. How do ASCD and Education International (EI) address these? Surely not with this declaration.

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