|World Conference on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs - Final Report (UNICEF - UNDP - UNESCO - WB - WCEFA, 1990, 129 p.)|
|4. Education for All: The Components - Summary of Roundtables|
Thematic roundtables on instructional materials, teachers, educational managers, assessment, and research covered a host of technical requirements for ensuring a quality education for all. The instructional materials roundtable grappled with the question of providing the most learners with the best materials at the least cost. Issues of quality control, private versus public sector roles, and the mechanics of providing educational materials from conception through development, manufacturing and distribution, were discussed. Local circumstances, more often, than not, determine whether government or local publishers are utilized in various stages of textbook design and production or local versus imported paper, among other choices. The round-table on teachers concentrated on the terms of service and general remuneration of teachers linking conditions of insufficient remuneration to poor performance (high absenteeism) and quality of instruction. How to enhance the pedagogical process was discussed in the thematic roundtable on improving primary education and in several illustrative roundtables, notably the ones on Colombia Jordan, the Caribbean, and the Philippines.
Assessment was discussed in two round-tables. First, it was covered in a thematic round-table looking at the role of assessment at the micro level in teaching and learning processes, drawing on several experiences from the industrialized and developing world, e.g., Kenya, Korea, Ireland, where examinations were being directly utilized to improve teacher training, curriculum and instruction. It was argued that improvement of assessment methods in schools leads to greater internal efficiency by reducing grade repetition and early drop-out. In a second country round-table (the United States) reviewing the impact of educational assessment on larger systemic reforms, the point was made that only by national comparison based on open, comparable performance assessments could "accountability" be increased and a willingness to consider innovation and reform to improve one's performance and relative public standing be nurtured. The capacity to use examination systems in general for the improvement of thinking ability and learning, rather than selection and certification, was strongly advocated in both roundtable sessions.
The primary purpose of bilateral and multilateral cooperation should appear in a true spirit of partnership - to help develop the endogenous capacities of national authorities and their in-country partners to meet basic learning needs effectively. Action and resources should be used to strengthen essential features of basic education services, focussing on managerial and analytical capacities, which can stimulate further developments.
Framework for Action
Thematic roundtables on empowering education managers and strengthening educational research capacity turned the discussion of providing a quality basic education to the role of information in improving educational decision-making and the production of useful, relevant knowledge through research and evaluation geared to informing planners, decision-makers, and practitioners. While strides were evident in the production of new knowledge through the development of national, regional and international educational research networks, answers to questions regarding the demonstrated utilization remained. Suggestions were offered to make decision-makers more intimately involved in research design and implementation with researchers and to make research findings more 'user-friendly'.