Interactive Atlas Shows Snapshots of State of Ed Worldwide

UNESCO, the United Nations organization focused on world education, science and culture, has launched a new "eAtlas" that provides interactive snapshots of education data. The new "eAtlas for Education 2030" offers information about access to education, its quality and the outcomes for multiple countries.

The themes shared in the online tool derive from the ambitious target set in the Sustainable Development Goal on education (SDG 4), which reads, to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all."

That overall goal incorporates 10 more granular targets, such as target 4.4, increasing the number of people — youths and adults — who have relevant skills for "employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship"; or target 4.1, "all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes."

To "transform" the overall goal into reality, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics has been working on compiling the data sources needed to monitor progress and help steer the policies and resources needed by people working on the initiative.

The current eAtlas is a first attempt at providing monitors tied to each of the SDG 4 discrete targets. For example, a user who clicks on target 4.1 can view country-by-country data regarding minimum proficiency standards in math and reading, completion rate, percentage of children over-age for grade and the number of years free and compulsory primary and secondary education is guaranteed, among other facts. The data can be viewed on the website or downloaded as an Excel file and is available in English and Spanish, with a French version in the works.

Much of the data comes from UNESCO education and literacy surveys, which cover more than 200 countries and territories. However, the current data isn't standing still. For instance, while five of the targets involve measurement of learning, there's no agreement on what the framework should look like for measuring that. So the atlas serves as a stop-gap measure while the UNESCO Institute of Statistics and other organizations continue building out the education data standards and methodologies.

The UNESCO eAtlas is available online here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.