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Recommendations to Ensure Universal Learning

At a Center for Universal Education of the Brookings Institution event this month, members of the Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF) presented their recommendations, which culminates an 18-month-long process to ensure all children and youth across the world are having better learning experiences. The primary recommendation and goal of the LMTF initiative is to make a global shift in focus and investment from universal access to "access plus learning." It also identifies basic learning competencies and recommends a small set of learning indicators to be tracked globally.

The seven recommendations outlined in the report Toward Universal Learning: Recommendations from the Learning Metrics Task Force are a result of a three-phase process that sought to address the following three questions:
1. What learning is important for children and youth?
2. How should learning outcomes be measured?
3. How can measurement of learning be implemented to improve education quality?

In the first phase, the task force agreed upon a Global Framework of Learning Domains, which is a broad set of global competencies from early childhood to early adolescence. Through the process of the second phase, the task force recommended a small number of learning indicators for global tracking, the prioritization and precise definition of which would need to be debated and established at the country level. Finally, the third phase examined how countries currently assess learning, what is measured, and how they use those results. They also looked at the specific needs of countries to measure learning and how assessments can improve the quality of learning.

The Global Framework of Learning Domains were designed to apply to a wide range of settings where "intentional learning" applies, which include formal, non-formal, and community education systems. One of the learning indicators includes "Breadth of Learning Opportunities" in order to track exposure to a variety of settings in which learning takes place across the global learning domains.

Although the task force has completed the third and final phase of its 18-month process, the next steps will focus upon supporting countries in strengthening their assessment systems toward improving learning levels, providing a technical stream of expertise, helping to build institutional capacity among stakeholders to carry out the recommendations, and to generate the political will to implement and invest in improved learning assessment and outcomes.

The Learning Metrics Task Force comprised 30 member organizations, 186 technical working group members, more than 1,700 consultation participants, and 118 countries. They participated in what is described as a highly inclusive, multi-stakeholder process among the global education community and were convened by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. The work of the task force was initiated to address a "global data gap on learning outcomes," which has held back progress on education quality. According to the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report, at least 250 million primary school-age children around the world, including those who have spent at least four years in school, do not have the basic literacy and numeracy skills to meet minimum learning standards. The work of the task force has been used to inform progress toward Education for All (EFA) and the second Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education. It is also informing education goals for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

For more information:

Toward Universal Learning: Recommendations from the Learning Metrics Task Force (Full Report Download in English, French, Spanish, Russian)

Making Education a Priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda (Full Report Download in English, French)

2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report (UNESCO)

About the Learning Metrics Task Force (Brookings Institute website)