Is Household-based assessment the key to inclusion of dropout children?

Plan International and UNESCO warn of the potential for increased drop-out rates, as COVID-19 forces school closures in 185 countries. Over 850 million children and youth – roughly half of the world’s student population – had to stay away from schools and universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A big portion of them might never return to school again.

Pandemic is an accelerator that pushes us to be more agile & adaptive. Everyone, especially children need to be prepared for the future. But unfortunately many of the children can never return to the formal education system because of the decrease in household income level. Those remarks were shared by Syeed Ahamed, CEO of IID, in a recent webinar organized by NEQMAP ( Network on Education Quality Monitoring in the Asia-Pacific). He also mentioned the recently launched online survey by IID on child education which targets the parents of 3-18 year old children. The survey depicts that 80% of the parents say that their children are learning less and their household income is also going down during the pandemic.

The webinar titled ‘Introducing NEQMAP Strategy in Strengthening the Quality of Education in Asia-Pacific’ was held on 30th June, 2020 from 1:00pm-2:30pm (Bangladesh Standard Time). NEQMAP serves as a regional platform for knowledge sharing, capacity development and research activities in the areas of learning assessment, curriculum and pedagogy to strengthen the quality learning outcomes in education systems through networking and collaborative efforts in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

During the webinar NEQMAP Secretariats presented the 5-year Strategy Document to its member institutes following the outcomes of the NEQMAP Programme Evaluation carried out in 2019 as well as the discussions from the NEQMAP’s 7th Annual Meeting held in November 2019. It also served as a platform for members and the Secretariat to share updates on on-going and potential upcoming activities in promoting the quality of education and the learning outcomes in the region.

On his speech Mr. Ahamed demanded that more emphasis should be given on the inclusion of out of school children. Countries like Bangladesh & Pakistan are using national TV to run education curriculum to children who don’t have access to school. But how we assess those children still remains a major concern.

One of the solutions can be converting the school based student assessment tools into household based assessment. The ICAN(International Common Assessment of Numeracy) Report of PAL Network, an international common numeracy assessment of children, scheduled to be published online on 9 July is a household-based assessment. IIDEdu contributed to the ICAN report as the Secretariat of ASER Bangladesh. IIDEdu carried out the nation-wide  survey last year , the findings of which will be presented in the ICAN Report. ASER Bangaldesh represents Bangladesh in the ICAN Assessment, which also includes inputs from 12 other member organizations from low and middle-income countries across Africa, Asia and America. He concluded by saying, we can take notes from assessment such as these one, as it could be crucial in the coming days regarding the inclusion of dropout children in a post-pandemic world.

On a recent separate event, Syeed Ahamed was announced to be a member of the steering group of NEQMAP at the steering group meeting held in May 2020.

The speaker of the webinar also included NEQMAP secretariats Ms. Phenwilai Chaiyaporn (Um) from UNESCO BKK and Ursula Schwantner from ACER Australia, while Mr. Mark Manns from UNESCO BKK moderated the event. Other guest speakers included Ms. Maki Hayashikawa, Chief IQE, UNESCO BKK; Dr. Abelardo Medes, Bureau of Education Assessment, DepEd, Philippines and Mr. Asliddin Odilov, State Inspectorate for Supervision of Quality in Education, Uzbekistan.

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