More in School, but Not Learning
There is little (if any for that matter) doubt that education plays a key role in raising individuals out of poverty and helping countries grow, among countless other benefits. One of the eight targets of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) was universal primary school enrollment. As the MDGs wind down this year, there has been remarkable progress for enrollment, especially in developing countries. All figures show that most developing countries have or are close to primary school enrollment. Despite the enrollment gains at K-12 level, there seems to be little learning taking place
. The recent PISA test results paint a grim picture of education in poor and middle-income countries: 54% of students failed the test in Mexico and 89% failed in my native Ghana.
Increasing enrollment is a great achievement when you consider all the barriers (e.g. costs, transportation, societal norms) some students face on a regular basis. However, universal education should focus on quality not quantity. When the UN General Assembly meets this fall for their annual session, they will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build on the MDGs. The focus of the SDGs, as far as education is concerned, should be on developing certain metrics and learning targets for K-12 students.