Policy brief: Equity and inclusion in education in Asia Pacific: Building back better and more equal
Following the commitment to ensure “inclusive and equitable quality education” and promote “lifelong learning for all” made in 2015 in Goal 4 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNESCO, 2015), the Asia-Pacific region made significant progress in terms of both access to, and the quality of, education. However, as the mid-point to the 2030 deadline approaches, millions of learners have failed to learn what they need to reach their fullest potential, producing a “learning crisis” of serious proportions.
This learning crisis, however, does not affect all learners equally. Those affected most include (1) children coming from disadvantaged, marginalised families and communities –those living in poverty and in rural and remote areas and from non-dominant language groups, lower castes, and refugee and migrant families; (2) vulnerable children –girls (and sometimes boys) facing gender barriers, children with developmental delays and disabilities, and those perceived and stigmatised as gender-nonconforming or LGBTI, and (3) children and adolescents who have never been to school or were pushed out of school early. Among these groups, the impact of the pandemic has led to even greater learning loss. Thus, a framework for “building back better and more equal” needs to be at the heart of sustainable post-pandemic education recovery and transformation of the education system. This post-pandemic framework calls for decisive action to protect the right to education of good quality and for measures –as spelled out below –to improve learning outcomes, especially for marginalized children made more vulnerable because of the pandemic.
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