EDUCATIONAL EQUITY AND PUBLIC POLICY: COMPARING RESULTS FROM 16 COUNTRIES
By Joel D. Sherman and Jeffrey M. Poirier
UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Montreal, 2007
The constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was adopted by 20 countries at the London Conference in November 1945 and entered into effect on 4 November 1946. The Organization currently has 191 Member States and six Associate Members. The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication in order to foster universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations. To fulfil its mandate, UNESCO performs five principal functions: 1) prospective studies on education, science, culture and communication for tomorrow's world; 2) the advancement, transfer and sharing of knowledge through research, training and teaching activities; 3) standard-setting actions for the preparation and adoption of internal instruments and statutory recommendations; 4) expertise through technical co-operation to Member States for their development policies and projects; and 5) the exchange of specialized information. UNESCO is headquartered in Paris, France.
UNESCO Institute for Statistics
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is the statistical office of UNESCO and is the UN depository for global statistics in the fields of education, science and technology, culture and communication. UIS was established in 1999. It was created to improve UNESCO's statistical programme and to develop and deliver the timely, accurate and policy-relevant statistics needed in today's increasingly complex and rapidly changing social, political and economic environments. UIS is based in Montreal, Canada.
American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Since its founding in 1946 as an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organization, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) has conducted more than 3,500 projects providing basic and applied research, technical support and management services to government agencies, non-profit organizations and private companies. AIR’s work in education spans both the domestic and international areas, with the latter including extensive work in comparative education and international development. 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW; Washington, DC 20007-3835; United States; www.air.org.
UNESCO Institute for Statistics P.O. Box 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7 Canada Tel: (1 514) 343-6880 Fax: (1 514) 343-5740 Email: email@example.com http://www.uis.unesco.org ISBN 92-9189-041-3 © UNESCO-UIS 2007 Ref: UIS/WP/06-03 Cover design: JCNicholls Design Printed by: ICAO
The right to education has been recognised by the international community for the last half century and has led to increasing interest in the equity of countries’ education systems. However, the term “equity” is subject to a variety of interpretations. Most would agree that education systems that are “equitable” provide high-quality education to all children, regardless of their background or where they live. But from there, opinions diverge about what aspect of education should be distributed “equitably” to whom and about what levels of disparity are “equitable” or “inequitable”. Recognising the lack of a common language for discussing the issue of equity in education, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) undertook a study to bring together some of the diverse approaches to equity and to provide a more systematic approach to conceptualising and measuring the equity of countries’ education systems. This study comes at an important time for policymakers, particularly in developing countries...
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