Dubai: Educational change should focus on quality, not just quantity, said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the Global Education and Skills Forum on Sunday.
“People today understand that education is a determiner of whether countries move forward or not. Before we used to look at numbers but now we need to look at quality and standard of education,” he said.
Blair said educational change is the most difficult thing you can do in government.
“In my experience in reform, everyone welcomes it until it comes to them. Everyone says education is important but they do not do anything about it,” he said.
Blair highlighted four main elements that countries must focus on to implement educational reform.
“Firstly, you have to have a system of evaluation that tells you the truth about where your education stands. Secondly, there should be teacher reform. Thirdly, leadership in schools is very important. Fourth, there needs to be experimentation in different type of provision. Technology is also utterly important,” he said.
Irina Bokova, director-general of Unesco, believed that while quality is important, there is also a need for quantity as there are currently 85 million children out of schools, the majority of whom are girls.
She said quality of education is important as statistics have found that there are 250 million illiterate people around the world, many of whom have had formal education but cannot read or write.
Bokova said that 500 million jobs will be created, out of which 90 per cent will be in developing countries if the goals of Unesco’s ‘Education for all’ initiative are met.
Bokova said we don’t only need people who contribute with their skills, but we should focus on having citizens who are engaged and have the values needed for countries to grow.