Advances towards the concept of quality in education: an open debate
Quality in education is a topic of great significance throughout the world, but it continues to be an issue of great complexity. It is considered that ‘quality’ is measured through education assessments, but if achievements are made at the expense of the school environment or emotional wellbeing, can we actually say that education is adequate?
It is not easy to define the concept of education quality, although its link with the concept of equity is clear. The relationship between social and educational inequality is complex and has many sides. On the one hand, patterns of inequality in society are reflected in inequity in education; on the other hand, educational inequality tends to deepen social inequities, but at the same time, education can play a role in the reduction of these inequities.
Education quality and equity are closely related issues that have a profound effect on the social and educational development of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. And despite progress made in the region in terms of access and assessment of education, many students continue to experience disadvantages in learning due to multiple factors such as gender, socioeconomic context, ethnicity, culture and language, place of residence, disability and parental status.
Assessment plays a key role in understanding and the level of incidence of factors that affect the improvement of education quality and equity. As well as being a diagnostic tool, assessment is an agent for change in education.
THE CARTAGENA SEMINAR
The Seminar session “The Right to a Quality Education for all in Latin America and the Caribbean” brings together participants that include education assessment experts from the region’s countries, academics and experts from international organizations, who will attempt to make progress towards a better regional understanding of the concept of quality and equality in education from childhood through to adulthood, and how quality can be measured in a context of diversity through the development of analytical tools.
At the end of the meeting, the participants will issue a joint report that will give the meeting’s definition of education quality, a proposal related to diagnostic tools, and recommendations for public policies on equity, quality, and assessment for the improvement of education, which can be used for the creation of future public policies that UNESCO and UNICEF can share with governments of the region.
The basis of debate and reflection will be the education quality model of the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), which is set forth in the document “Quality Education for all: a Human Rights Issue”. This text is based on the Buenos Aires Declaration (2007), in which the region’s education ministers state that education is a public good and a fundamental human right, defining quality in terms of equity, relevance, pertinence, efficacy and efficiency.
Goal 6 of Education For All (EFA): Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills