“The 21st century has thus far proven to be challenging – global changes which impact on our climate, economy, security and way of life. We need to ensure that our children and young people have access to the resources that they need, so that they can realise their full potential. Education is an essential component in our war against poverty, poor health and rising unemployment”.

Lee Dunn, International Bureau of Education CoP Annual Forum, 2011

The UN’s Annual Monitoring Report, analysing the progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals, was released recently. With only three years to go before the deadline is reached, now is an important time to reflect on the progress made – or lack thereof. Although all essential components, I am specifically interested in target 2 – Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

Improved data and monitoring tools are crucial for devising appropriate policies and interventions needed to achieve the MDGs. Although some progress is being made, reliable statistics for monitoring development remain inadequate in many poor countries, and the challenge of building in-country capacity to produce better policy-relevant data is enormous. Since periodic assessment of the MDGs began around ten years ago, activities have been under way to improve data availability in countries and reporting mechanisms to international organisations. As a result, data production in countries is increasingly aligned with internationally agreed upon recommendations and standards. Moreover, international agencies have developed a better understanding of countries’ data availability and of how to work with national experts to produce and estimate indicators.

This is an area which I will be watching closely. Improved systems in monitoring and tracking across the education landscape are essential – from the bottom up reporting and practice of workers to the high level and strategic use of aggregated data to inform policy and the allocation of resources. Although great strides have been made – and even more so in some of the poorer nations – there is still much work to be done.


Posted by Lee Dunn

Academic Staff University of Glasgow and Author of Science Fiction

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