Commonwealth to develop universal standards for ensuring quality education

Commonwealth countries are set to benefit from a set of universal standards to improve quality in education, Dr Joanna Nurse, Head of Health and Education at the Commonwealth Secretariat, announced today.

Making sure that education is relevant, effective, accessible and delivered in a safe, healthy and gender-sensitive environment are some of the priorities that the Commonwealth Quality Standards for Education will address. The standards will be put to Education Ministers at the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in 2018.

Thought leaders, experts and policymakers met at the Commonwealth headquarters in London on 7 June for a roundtable to help shape the standards, which sets out guidelines to help countries achieve the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

“In September last year the world agreed that quality education is a must for sustainable development, but there appears to be no clear global or Commonwealth consensus on the definition of quality,” said Dr Nurse.

“Our aim is to consult with other organisations who support education, as well as those who make decisions about policy and those who work at a grassroots level, to come up with a set of standards that define quality. This will help countries to plan and mobilise the right resources to meet these benchmarks and provide quality education.”

Following the roundtable, the proposed standards will be presented to international development organisations, including UNESCO and Comic Relief, on 8 June at the first meeting of the Commonwealth Accelerated Development Mechanism for Education (CADME) technical working group – senior officials chosen by Education Ministers to help countries achieve the education SDG.

The standards will also be published on the Commonwealth Education Hub, where comments will be invited from professionals and the public and reviewed by CADME and Commonwealth Education Ministers.

Dr Nurse said: “We realise that education is not a one-size-fits-all. What might work in an urban setting might be ineffective in a nomadic community, so we want to make sure we have a flexible set of quality standards that can be adapted to specific situations.

“In addition to hearing from those who work in the development space and those who make policies, we really need to understand at the grassroots level what needs to be covered in these standards.”

She added: “This extended consultation will ensure that the document that education ministers put their signature on, represents the voices of learners, parents, teachers and all stakeholders.”

Resources and drafts will be added to the eDiscussion page as they become available.

Commonwealth Secretariat