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Learning counts: A desk review of approaches to understanding, assessing and improving the quality of learning for all.

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Learning counts: A desk review of approaches to understanding, assessing and improving the quality of learning for all.
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  Learning Counts: An overview of approaches to understanding, assessing and improving the quality of education for all  Project coordinator: Ana Luiza MachadoMain Author: Jean BernardContributors: Marta Encinas-Martin Michelle Rogers Mutsumi Sato  Andrea Valentini Paris, 2009UNESCO  Financial assistance for this study was provided by the Russian Federation.The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of UNESCO. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout the report do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries. This version of the document is for review and should not be shared or quoted.Published in 2009 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization7 Place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SPPrinted in FranceED-2010/WS/21 1066.10)  Table of Contents Foreword vAcknowledgements viiExecutive Summary ixList of Abbreviations and Acronyms xiList of Figures, Tables and Text Boxes xiiIntroduction 1Part I – Quality learning for a better world: evolution of a global vision 5 1.1 A fundamental human right 51.2 From Jomtien to Dakar, and beyond 61.3 Anguish and hope: quality learning as a future-oriented endeavour 10 Part II – Current approaches, models and frameworks 13 2.1 Rights-based approaches 142.2 Efficiency models 162.3 Reaching out to learners 182.4 A world view and views 182.5 Promising avenues: new research and information-sharing initiatives 23 Part III – What are they learning and how do we (and they) know? 27 3.1 Standard procedures 283.2 Less common practices 32 Part IV – Overcoming obstacles to meeting the quality challenge 37 4.1 Review of quality-related elements in EFA-FTI country planning documents 384.2 Summary of country strategies for implementing quality learning 404.3 Country plans, global indicators and the IF benchmarking tool 41 Part V – Conclusions and recommendations 45 5.1 Review of quality-related elements in EFA-FTI country planning documents 465.2 Summary of country strategies for implementing quality learning 47 Annexes 1. Quality education: the normative framework 512. Summary of strategies for implementing quality learning present in EFA-FTI country planning documents 533. Cross-organizational perceptions of factors affecting quality 57 4. EFA framework for actions to improve the quality and relevance of education in sub-Saharan Africa 59 5. List of documents reviewed 616. Sample document review template 65 Glossary of Terms 67References 71  v  Foreword Today, in addition to the 10% of children who do not have access to schooling of any kind, we know that millions more are in school but are not achieving even minimal levels of learning. To effectively address the issue of how to assure the quality of learning for children, young people and adults around the world, it has become a matter of urgency to revisit the question of what quality means and how it can be measured, especially in the light of the relevance of education to the needs of learners in rapidly changing societies. While global defining principles, such as those embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the  World Declaration on Education for All   will always endure, we need to reach a shared understanding of its specific elements and outcomes relative to current contexts. Without a clear vision of what quality learning is, efforts to measure and improve it are in danger of remaining uneven and sporadic, therefore incapable of leading to promotion of the necessary changes in educational policies and practices that enable quality learning.For over six decades, UNESCO has been at the centre of the intellectual debate on the concept of quality education, as well as in the coordination of concrete activities for its implementation. Recognizing the urgent need to reopen and re-energize the dialogue on quality in the light of recommendations of the Global Monitoring Report   (2004-2008), as well as repeated calls from Member States, international conferences and high-level meetings, the Education Sector launched a new initiative "Learning Counts" in 2008 to focus specifically on conceptualizing, assessing and improving the quality of learning for all. The present desk review was undertaken as a key component of this new initiative in order to consolidate and interpret the wide-ranging and diverse body of literature that underpins the quality debate. Its purpose is to explore the historical and organizational roots of current approaches to conceptualizing quality at global level, as well as to survey the elements of quality and quality indicators from 36 of the world's poorest countries. The summaries, conclusions and recommendations of this review are also aimed at facilitating the work of the Education for All Fast-Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) and its partners, and especially to serve as a conceptual framework and resource for all countries struggling to extend access to quality learning in spite of teacher shortages, inadequate facilities, scarcity of learning materials and other immense challenges. I would like to thank the EFA-FTI Task Team on the Quality of Learning Outcomes (QTT) for inviting UNESCO to undertake this initiative and the Russian Federation for its generous financial support. It is our hope that through this review and the subsequent studies on the elements of quality now in progress, more coordinated and focused action for improving quality learning will be made possible. The world's children – as well as learners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities – deserve nothing less.
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