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close this bookMeeting Basic Learning Needs: A Vision for the 1990s (UNICEF - UNDP - UNESCO - WB - WCEFA, 1990, 170 p.)
close this folder2. The Context and Effects of Basic Learning in the World
close this folderB. Indicators of the Context and Effects of Basic Education
View the document(introduction...)
View the document(i) Background characteristics
View the document(ii) Financial capacity
View the document(iii) Educational effort
View the document(iv) Educational effects
View the document(v) Social impacts

(iv) Educational effects

Ideally, a nation would want to know how educational efforts affect school processes, and the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour. In reality, data are available only to indicate access to schooling, continuing participation, graduation, and further learning attainment. The degree to which these indicators are adequate proxies for the hoped-for effects of basic education activities will vary among nations, systems, and institutions.

Chart 4: Gross Enrolment Ratios by Regions (1960-85)

Source: UNESCO.

The gross and net enrolment ratios (the common measures of access) reveal once again the differences among nations and among the economic categories of nations in their priorities for and efforts in meeting basic learning needs (see Chart 4 for regional comparisons). Gross enrolment ratios include under- and over-age pupils in addition to those of the normal primary school age (usually six to eleven years old). Within the group of low-income economies, gross enrolment ratios for males range from 20 to 30 percent (Afghanistan, Mali, and Somalia) to over 100 percent (twelve countries). The gross enrolment ratios for females are consistently lower with only one exception (Lesotho with 125 percent for females versus 101 percent for males).

Net enrolment ratios (restricted to the primary school age cohort) are less generally available but show a similar pattern: countries with comparable economic conditions show significantly different education results. Among the low-income economies, reported net enrolment ratios for males range from 14 percent in Somalia and 31 percent in Guinea to 87 percent in Togo, 89 percent in Madagascar, and 99 or 100 percent in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Female net enrolment ratios reported for the same set of countries range from 8 percent in Somalia, 15 percent in Guinea, and 20 percent in Burkina Faso to 96 percent in Indonesia and 100 percent in Sri Lanka. Of course, these differences are not solely a product of policy choices and priorities, but they do support the contention that both societal willingness and effort must be considered in evaluating the constraining effect of a nation’s financial capacity.

Box 2.03. DIKMAS: Income Generation and Literacy Programmes for Women in Indonesia

DIKMAS is the Community Education Division of the Ministry of Education and Culture in Indonesia. Its programme of combining employment - oriented skill training closely linked with literacy efforts has helped Indonesia move from about a 60 percent literacy rate to nearly 80 percent over the past decade, while also providing earning opportunities for unemployed out-of-school youth.

“Learning and Earning” opportunities are being offered by the Kejar Paket A literacy and Kejar Usaha small enterprise programmes for women in Indonesia. The programmes, using such facilities and activities as village learning groups, reading courses, rural newspapers, and preparation for primary school equivalency examinations, aim to eliminate illiteracy, especially among women; to increase participation in child survival and development activities; and to enable women to increase their income through loans for small business. Most learners are poor, illiterate girls and women between the ages 13 and 44, with no fixed occupation. The community provides tutors and a venue for classes, and a village task force manages funds for the programme.

In 1987 a midterm review found that Kejar Usaha group members have been able to increase their income by as much as 34 percent a year, and Kejar Paker A learners have been able to raise their income by 20 percent a year. The Kejar Paket A scheme has also become an alternative to formal schooling for primary school dropouts, who form 46 percent of learners. One innovation of the Kejar Usaha programme is that loans are being extended through the Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) on collateral furnished by UNICEF and the government. This offers group members a chance to learn to deal with banks and frees civil servants from having to keep detailed accounts of payments and repayments.

A total of 5.6 million illiterates will be reached by the programmes during Repelita V. The country's next five year development plan.

One of the most widely used indicators of educational development is the female enrolment rate. Since females commonly are the last to benefit from educational expansion and the first to suffer from reductions in learning opportunities, their participation rates are a more sensitive indicator of access than are total or male only rates. The general pattern of female participation is one of lower aggregate enrolment rates with a notably greater degree of equality at entry to primary schooling than at termination. This finding indicates that attempts to improve gender equity must focus both on access and on the continued participation of females.

Not indicated in the available data is differential achievement. Anecdotal reports suggest that, even where participation in learning programs is high, social and cultural factors which influence career expectations and role definitions can indirectly affect learning achievement. A well-known example in the United States is the question of girl’s achievement in science and math.

Participation by students until the end of the primary school cycle may be, however, a necessary if not sufficient condition for achieving an acceptable level of basic learning. For 1980-86, completion rates (the proportion of grade 1 enrollees who complete the primary cycle) reported by the low-income countries ranged from around 15 percent (Benin, Guinea-Bissau, and the Yemen Arab Republic) to 80 percent and above (Mauritania, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Zambia). Since high completion rates can reflect policies that restrict initial access opportunities in favour of elites, this indicator needs to be viewed in the context of both access and achievement levels. Similarly, reported levels of secondary school access indicate the effect not only of primary schooling but also of other determinants, including the demand structure of the labour market and the availability of secondary school places.

Educational patterns also differs among the middle-income and the industrial market economies. For example, one lower middle-income nation reports a gross enrolment ratio for males of less than 75 percent, while twenty-five countries report ratios of 95 percent or above. Among the higher income nations, the reported female net enrolment ratios range from 48 to 100 percent.

Two critical facts are not directly indicated by the tables in the Data Annex. First, economically advantaged nations vary dramatically in how effective they are in extending learning opportunities to their disadvantaged populations. Second, the functional definition of basic learning may differ among developed economies and may include some post-primary education. Indicators related to these issues of access and definition may be derived, however, from variations in the percentage of grade 1 students completing the primary cycle and in the gross enrolment ratios at the secondary level.

A list of the desired effects of educational investments at the basic education level must include initial access, continued participation, equity for disadvantaged populations, and learning achievement. All of these are of some concern in all countries. As in the case of economic growth, however, the most disadvantaged nations face the most difficulty in achieving the desired effects.

In summary, multiple indicators of educational processes and effects are required to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of a nation’s attempts to meet basic learning needs. The willingness of some nations to invest in basic education despite adverse economic conditions and their efforts to overcome financial constraints deserves both respect and further study. Examination of a high-performing nation’s willingness and effort may help identify aspects that can be transferred to other national contexts.

The data on primary education efforts shed light on the incomplete coverage of the current systems; they also define more precisely the task of expanding basic education through primary schooling and equivalent systems, public information, and adult education and training programmes. The need for each nation to expand its out-of-school efforts is strengthened by the realization that, for many nations, the goal of universal primary schooling will not be attained in the immediate future.