A senior UNESCO education specialist who is currently working with the UAE authorities on a major initiative has said that financial transparency is 'key to quality education'. Dr Faryal Khan is working with the UAE educational authorities to meet specific goals by 2015 for Unesco’s 'Education For All Movement'.
“While the UAE has high literacy rates, you have high numbers of enrolment in primary education and secondary education, you have a good higher-education system, quality remains a challenge,” Dr Khan said after the Education For All forum.
“Despite heavy investment, when you look at the Pisa (Program for International Student Assessment) and Timss (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) results, the UAE is not faring very well.
“Is it investing where quality matters? That’s my question.
“That’s why you need educational financial data. You need to have access to transparent educational financial data to see where the UAE is investing because if you’re not investing in areas where quality makes a difference in key drivers of quality, you will not achieve quality.”
The UAE dropped from 43rd place to 48th in the Pisa test results for 2012 which surveyed 15 year old students abilities in key topics such as maths, reading and science.
The Unesco Education for All Movement was launched in 2000 with the aim of encouraging member countries to meet six main goals by 2015. These are improving early childhood education; ensuring all children have access to free education; ensuring young adults have equal access to life-skill programmes; improving adult literacy by 50 per cent; achieving gender equality in education; and “improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognised and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills”.
According to Unesco Institute of Statistics data presented by Dr Khan, 79 per cent of children in the UAE are enrolled in preschools, 86 per cent of girls and 92 per cent of boys are in primary school, and the net enrolment rate in secondary education is 66 per cent for males and 60 per cent for females.
A team from UNESCO will spend the next five months collecting statistics and other evidence to show what the UAE has achieved to date. The results of the study will be presented to UNESCO in June.