Cracks in our education systems were apparent before the pandemic struck. These are now deeper and wider. As is very often the case, the most disadvantaged children pay the biggest price – including in Eurasia.
UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report in partnership with the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education and the Network of Education Policy Centers, released a new report this weeks that analyses the response of 30 education systems in the region over the last twenty years.
Before the pandemic, real change had taken seed. If there are still children in institutions, there are far fewer today than a decade ago; if Roma children in Central and Eastern Europe are still disproportionately excluded, they have better protection and more rights; where once children with disabilities had very few chances of attending a mainstream school, today many of them do. The percentage of children with disabilities in special schools fell from 78% in 2006 to 53% in 2016. The percentage of children in residential institutions in the region also fell by 30% over that period. There has been real momentum in this region, sparked by a combination of national commitments and a desire to closely align policies and laws with the EU.
Out of school rates have fallen by half over the last twenty years so there is now near universal access to education. Importantly, there have been great strides towards inclusivity with two in three education systems having adopted a definition of inclusion that embraces multiple marginalized groups. Schools are making their support systems broader and more flexible. Among the 30 education systems reviewed, a large majority of them offer counselling and mentoring, learning assistance, specialist and therapist support.
However, the legacy of segregation – which was wrongly regarded in the past as a solution – persists today. Children are still being separated because of their identity, background and ability. There are separate schools for linguistic and ethnic minorities in 22 of the 30 countries. While educating students in the mother tongue is important, there are too few examples of bilingual education, where students from the majority and minority group can learn from each other’s history and traditions together.
Inclusion is still an elusive dream for some of the most disadvantaged groups. Displacement, a nomadic way of living, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation still represent marginalisation in the region. In Mongolia, 94% of the richest complete secondary school compared to only 37% of the poorest. Roma children are still the most excluded in the region. The report finds that about 60% of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian youth in the Balkans do not attend upper secondary school and they are also disproportionally diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.
Covid-19 has led to further exclusion of these groups. During school closures only 38% of countries designed learning materials for speakers of minority languages. This legacy of segregation will require strong commitment from governments to correct.
For a start, diversity should be seen as something to be celebrated, not a problem to be fixed. Barriers that prevent students from accessing quality education such as medical diagnosis to determine the placement of learners with disabilities, have no place in their education experience. Yes 15 out of 30 countries still adhere to this medical model of education.
The education systems in the region can emerge stronger than before COVID-19. Recovery from the pandemic can be the the impetus to addess unjust policies in the region. History shows us that change is possible.
Recently, eight countries have moved to create resource centres shared between schools for a shift to full inclusion of those with special needs. Resources and logistics have been rallied to open school doors to the refugees who have arrived in some corners of the region. Turkey has absorbed 600,000 refugee children in schools around the country.
We were caught short by COVID-19 and have had our eyes opened to the need for greater resilience to future shocks around the corner. Despite the increadible challenges, the pandemic has forced us to re-assess the way we live, the way we treat other people, and the type of future we want to build once it is over.
All of us need the knowledge and skills to change mindsets that can build a inclusive and democratic society built on solid community values. Yes, COVID-19 interrupted education in a way we have never seen before. Now we must make sure this break is a pause for much-needed reflection about the societies we want to build, and the education we need to build them.
New Social Compact
The Threat of Brain Drain: Causes, Implications, and Solutions
The phenomenon of highly educated and skilled professionals moving from their home country to another country in search of better employment opportunities, living conditions, and other benefits is known as brain drain. This phenomenon presents several difficulties, including a sizable loss of human capital, a decline in the innovation and productivity of the source nation, and a potential imbalance in the distribution of talent globally.
Brain drain has become a major issue for many developing nations, as it results in the loss of talented people who could make significant contributions to the economic and social development of their home nations. Since a large number of highly skilled professionals have left Pakistan in search of better employment opportunities, the nation has struggled with a serious brain drain issue.
Causes of Brain Drain
The brain drain is caused by a number of factors. The absence of employment options in the country of origin is the main factor. It can be difficult for many highly qualified professionals to find employment that matches their education and experience, which causes them to look for opportunities elsewhere. Due to low pay and unfavorable working conditions in some countries, professionals may also struggle to support their families. Instability in politics, poor infrastructure, and limited access to technology can all be contributing factors.
The same is true for Pakistan, where one of the main reasons for the brain drain is a lack of economic opportunities. Many highly qualified professionals, such as doctors, engineers, and IT experts, are compelled to look for opportunities abroad because they cannot locate domestic jobs that match their skill sets. Similarly, long-standing political unrest in Pakistan has been characterized by frequent administration changes and a pattern of military takeovers.
Simultaneously, through their financial contributions, the diaspora communities—which include expatriates, overseas Pakistanis, and Pakistani Americans—have a significant impact on Pakistan’s economy. Whereas, doctors, engineers, scientists, and business owners are just a few of the highly qualified professionals living in the Pakistani diaspora. These professionals can help Pakistan develop by sharing their skills and knowledge because they have worked in developed nations where they have gained invaluable experience and knowledge.
Implications of Brain Drain
There are several detrimental effects of brain drain on developing nations. First, it leads to a shortage of highly skilled professionals, making it challenging to develop critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and technology. An additional effect is a decrease in investment in education and training. Secondly, governments invest a lot of money in professional development and education, and when these people leave the workforce, that investment is lost. Third, a reduction in innovation, research, and development may result from brain drain. It can also worsen economic inequality because most highly skilled and educated individuals can afford to emigrate.
Moreover, brain drain has serious repercussions for the country of origin. Highly skilled individuals frequently leave the country, resulting in a sizable loss of human capital that can harm the nation’s economic development. Sectors like healthcare, education, and research—which demand highly skilled personnel—feel the impact of this loss most acutely. Furthermore weakening the nation’s economy is the possibility of brain drain causing a general decline in productivity and innovation. Additionally, the exodus of talented people can make already-existing social and economic disparities worse by depriving the country’s marginalized communities of qualified professionals who can assist in meeting their needs.
Possible Solutions for Brain Drain
The issue of brain drain has been addressed with a number of solutions. In-country wage increases and better working conditions are two potential solutions. This may attract highly qualified professionals and persuade them to remain and support the growth of their nation. Making investments in vital industries like healthcare, education, and technology is an additional solution. Whereas, governments can foster an environment where professionals are more likely to stay and contribute to the growth of their nation by offering more employment opportunities and better infrastructure. A further way to entice professionals to stay in the country is by providing incentives like tax breaks and housing subsidies.
However, Pakistan must create a comprehensive strategy to address this issue that aims to retain its skilled workforce and draw in foreign investment. To provide training opportunities and help Pakistanis develop industry-specific skills, one potential solution is to form partnerships with foreign institutions. With this strategy, education, and training can be of higher quality, increasing the employability of Pakistan’s skilled labor force.
Pakistan should also concentrate on improving the environment in which companies can operate. The government should offer incentives to foreign investors to set up their businesses in Pakistan, which will create more job opportunities for the local workforce. To create a stable and conducive environment for businesses to operate, the government should prioritize investments in vital sectors like infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
Raising the standard of living in Pakistan is another way to draw and keep skilled workers. This can be done by funding social welfare programs, enhancing the standard of healthcare, and making sure that people live in a safe and secure environment. With this strategy, Pakistan’s citizens and the wider world may have a more favorable impression of the country.
The development of many developing nations is seriously threatened by brain drain. Some of the main reasons include a lack of job opportunities, low pay, unfavorable working conditions, poor infrastructure, limited access to technology, and political unrest. The detrimental effects of brain drain include a lack of highly skilled workers, a reduction in investments in education and training, a decline in innovation, research, and development, and a worsening of economic inequality.
However, there are potential solutions to these problems, such as enhancing working conditions and raising salaries, investing in important industries, and providing incentives like tax breaks and housing subsidies. Governments can improve the environment for professionals to stay and contribute to the growth of their nation by putting these solutions into practice, which will ultimately result in more economic and social advancement.
Last but not least, the loss of talent from Pakistan is a serious issue that hinders the development and growth of the economy in that nation. The main causes of this trend are the state of the global economy, unstable political conditions, and a weak educational system. By investing in education and training, fostering a more welcoming environment for businesses, and raising the general standard of living of its people, Pakistan can, however, position itself to attract and retain skilled workers in a fiercely competitive global marketplace.
New Social Compact
Pakistan’s Support from Girls education and importance of women progress in Afghanistan
Pakistan firmly believes that girls’ education is one of the cardinal rights of all human beings in Islam, and it is committed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Pakistan has a strong stance in support of Afghan women, particularly in ensuring their access to education, which is currently at risk due to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.
Islam places great importance on education, and the Holy Quran encourages both men and women to seek knowledge. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also emphasized the importance of education and made it obligatory for all Muslims, regardless of gender. Therefore, Pakistan strongly believes that denying girls’ education is a violation of the fundamental rights of human beings and goes against the teachings of Islam.
Pakistan’s support for girls’ education extends beyond its borders, particularly in Afghanistan. Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Pakistan has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure that Afghan girls have access to education. Pakistan has provided humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees, including education and health care services. Pakistan has also been a key player in the international community’s efforts to support Afghan women’s rights and education.
Pakistan has repeatedly called on the Taliban to respect women’s rights, particularly their right to education. Pakistan’s Prime Minister has stated that the Taliban must ensure that girls have access to education and that women can participate fully in Afghan society. Pakistan has also urged the international community to support Afghan women and girls, particularly in providing access to education and protecting their fundamental rights.
The participation of women in public and political life is critical for the future of Afghanistan. Afghan women have faced numerous challenges in accessing education, healthcare, and political participation, particularly under the Taliban’s previous regime. However, with the recent Taliban takeover of the country, the situation for Afghan women is even more precarious, and their participation in public and political life is in serious jeopardy.
The participation of women in public and political life is essential for a healthy and functioning democracy. It ensures that women’s voices are heard and their interests are represented in policymaking processes. Moreover, women’s participation in public life can lead to the development of policies that benefit both men and women, such as improving access to education and healthcare.
Despite the numerous challenges that Afghan women have faced in accessing education and participating in politics, they have made significant progress over the past two decades. Women have held important positions in government, including serving as ministers, members of parliament, and ambassadors. Women have also played a critical role in the peace process, advocating for the inclusion of women’s voices and interests in peace negotiations.
However, with the Taliban’s recent takeover of the country, the situation for Afghan women is uncertain. The Taliban have a history of denying women’s rights and imposing strict gender segregation and dress codes. The Taliban’s track record on women’s rights has raised concerns about the future of Afghan women’s participation in public and political life.
The international community must take concrete steps to support Afghan women’s participation in public and political life. This includes providing support for women’s education, healthcare, and economic empowerment, as well as advocating for women’s inclusion in peace negotiations and political decision-making processes. It is essential to ensure that Afghan women have access to safe and inclusive spaces to participate in public life and that their fundamental rights are protected.
Pakistan firmly believes that girls’ education is one of the cardinal rights of all human beings in Islam, and it is committed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Pakistan’s stance in support of Afghan women and their right to education is a testament to its commitment to promoting human rights and dignity, particularly for women and girls.
The international community must work together with Pakistan to ensure that Afghan women have access to education and that their fundamental rights are protected. Only then can we build a more just and equitable society where all human beings can fulfill their potential and contribute to the betterment of the world. Afghan women have made significant progress over the past two decades, but their participation is now in serious jeopardy. The international community must take concrete steps to support Afghan women and ensure that their fundamental rights are protected, including their right to participate in public and political life. It is only through the full inclusion and participation of women that Afghanistan can build a just and equitable society and secure a peaceful and prosperous future.
New Social Compact
In a Racist Society, Be an Anti-Racist
The concept of racism has drawn more discussion and attention in the sociopolitical landscape of today. The never-ending fight against racism has been a long-standing problem that has presented difficulties for both social movements and civil rights activists. Conversations about racism have been further sparked by the recent emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and its cries for justice and equality.
Anti-racism has a long history that dates back to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Activists like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. demanded an end to discrimination and segregation during this time, sparking a wave of social and political change. While the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were important legislative victories for this movement, racism still existed.
Anti-racism has developed and grown over the years. During the 1980s and 1990s, anti-racist activists started concentrating on problems like economic inequality, environmental racism, and police brutality. The Black Lives Matter movement has more recently raised awareness of systemic racism and issues of police brutality.
Being anti-racist requires a fundamental change in our attitudes and beliefs about racism. Simply being non-racist or refraining from overtly racist behavior does not constitute being anti-racist. Instead, it entails proactively confronting and destroying systemic racism, which is frequently firmly embedded in societal institutions, practices, and ideologies. Anti-racism is the understanding that racism is a systemic problem that permeates all facets of society and is not just a matter of personal prejudice or bias.
Because of this, it is even more crucial to be anti-racist in a society where racism is normalized and perpetuated in many cases without anyone noticing or objecting. To eliminate systemic racism, which is pervasive and sneaky, we must work together. A person who opposes racism must actively work to create a society that is more just and equitable.
Furthermore, in a world where institutionalized racism and discrimination remain widespread issues, being anti-racist is more crucial than ever. People who actively seek to recognize and oppose racism in all of its manifestations, whether they be in interpersonal interactions, governmental actions, or cultural norms, are referred to as anti-racists.
Why Being an Anti-Racist Matters:
The fact that racism and discrimination still cause harm to people and communities all over the world makes being anti-racist important. Racism has far-reaching and detrimental effects, including violence by police against Black and Brown people and discrimination in employment, housing, and education. Anti-racists can contribute to establishing a society that is more just and equitable for all by actively working to overthrow these oppressive systems.
However, fighting against injustice is only one aspect of being an anti-racist; it also involves working to bring about constructive change. Anti-racists can aid in changing cultural norms and advancing inclusion and acceptance by confronting racist attitudes and actions. A more diverse and vibrant society where everyone has the chance to succeed can result from this.
How to Be an Anti-Racist:
A combination of individual and group action is necessary to be anti-racist. Anti-racists can actively work to be inclusive and welcoming to people of all backgrounds by challenging their own biases and beliefs, becoming knowledgeable about the struggles of marginalized communities, and challenging their prejudices and beliefs. Speaking out against racist remarks or actions, supporting companies and organizations run by people of color, and helping out anti-racist organizations are all examples of how to do this.
Collectively, anti-racists can support laws and programs that advance equity and justice. Supporting affirmative action initiatives, promoting police reform, and tackling the underlying causes of inequality and poverty are a few examples of what can be done in this regard. Together, anti-racists can bring about significant change and create a society that is more just and equitable.
Racism has been a major problem throughout the world, and despite numerous initiatives and campaigns to combat it, it persists in many societies. Being anti-racist is more crucial than ever in a society that tolerates it. Anti-racists can contribute to the development of a more just and equitable world by proactively combating racism and discrimination. Anti-racists can influence society and contribute to the creation of a better future through both individual and group efforts. Our attitudes and behaviors toward racism must fundamentally change to respond to the call to be anti-racist. It necessitates a consistent effort on our part to analyze our privilege and biases, educate ourselves, and take part in anti-racist activities. We can make society more just and equitable for everyone by actively addressing systemic racism.
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