Executive Summary: Quality education is a fundamental human right, a global vision, and the conduit through which societies pass on their knowledge, skills and distinct cultural values to future generations. Inclusive, highquality learning systems not only equip learners with the tools for overcoming barriers of discrimination, intolerance and misunderstanding, but also with the necessary skills for sustaining economically viable livelihoods in a rapidly changing world.
The world commitment to Education for All and the establishment of the six EFA goals in 1990 launched an unprecedented, coordinated global campaign to provide education of good quality to all, regardless of age, ethnicity, place of origin, ability or economic status. The priorities set by these goals clearly called for immediate and urgent action to meet the basic learning needs of girls, women and others who had been denied access to school or who, once in school, had been prevented from reaching their full potential. Through the UN Millennium Development Declaration, Member States also committed to the goal of achieving universal primary education and eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2015. Today, in the wake of considerable progress towards achieving the goal of universal access, there is growing concern that the quality of education is not keeping pace with the rapid expansion of education systems, particularly in the world's poorest countries.
The Education for All Fast-Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) was created in 2002 as a global compact to help developing countries track and accelerate progress towards the EFA and education-related Millennium Development Goals with the help of international organizations, bilateral aid agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). As of 2008, 36 countries had been endorsed as partners in this initiative and are now in the process of implementing strategies for reaching out to those who still do not have access, and for improving the quality of learning outcomes for those who do. With the growing realization that access to schooling without providing education of good quality is not sustainable, the international discourse on defi nitions of quality has wavered between holistic, rights-based visions and more practical approaches based on effi ciency models of education systems. In both approaches, attention has shifted towards the teaching and learning interactions that occupy their central and common spaces, and which demand a response to the question of why, how and for whom the quality of learning counts.
This desk review was undertaken as a means of addressing the quality issue both as an international concept and from the point of view of the countries and organizations engaged in the Education for All Fast-Track Initiative. By providing an historical overview of the evolution of quality education as a global vision and an examination of the elements of quality from the perspective of EFA-FTI countries, it seeks to inform discussion and guide focused action on defi ning, assessing and improving the quality of learning and learning outcomes for all.
Jean Bernard, et al, UNESCO, 2009