Teachers and social cohesion in the global south: expanding the notion of education quality

20 Feb 2017

The second decade of the 21st century has been largely characterised by ever-widening inequalities within and between countries, global economic crises, conflict, and climate change. Concern about this is evident in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon in September 2015. The SDGs arguably lay a foundation in both the Global North and the Global South for a renewed and ambitious development framework that tackles poverty and inequality, promotes social and economic inclusion, addresses the universal challenge of climate change, and focuses directly on issues of equity and access to quality education. Countries and organisations across the world, in engaging with this framework and reflecting on the various agreed (SDG) goals for 2030, have however struggled to comprehensively define the challenges attached to each of the above goals ? especially the latter. What is meant by equitable and inclusive quality education for all? On the one hand, an estimated 250 million children across the world are still ?not learning even basic literacy and numeracy skills, let alone the further skills they need to get decent work and lead fulfilling lives? (UNESCO 2014). On the other hand, where children do access education provision, the quality of the provision has often been directly related to their economic status. Invariably ?the well-off tend to attend good schools and universities, mostly privately funded, and the poor attend inadequate, mostly publicly funded facilities? (United Nations Development Programme 2013). This is particularly the case in developing countries, and suggests that a central driver in transforming human development prospects in these countries into the next period would need to be tied to the provision of greater access to ?high-quality education?.