Although the evidence supporting the wider benefits of education is substantial, there is a strong debate as to whether observed differences in children’s learning outcomes are driven by differences in social class, income, education, poverty, employment, or any other factor. In almost every country there are marked differences in health, social and civic participation between individuals with high levels of education and those with low levels of education. But these differences are also established if one uses income or social class instead of education as an indicator of socioeconomic status. Whether it is class, education or income that dominates as cause seems to be of little importance. Yet, there are complex interactions between social class, education, income and other background and contextual factors which must be understood in order to establish how is that education can generate wider outcomes for individuals, their families and society as a whole.
This background paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/4 on teaching and learning, focuses on the complementarities that education can bring to the multiple and sometimes inter-related interventions, from government and other national and international organisations, in the context of development. The international commitment to fighting poverty, reducing social and economic inequalities and improving the overall quality of life, particularly of people living in extreme poverty, is strong, and it is in this context that this paper raises the question: can education hinder, sustain or enhance the expected benefits of other interventions?
To address this question, the paper focuses on the benefits of early life interventions for children who participated in the Young Lives Longitudinal Study. Early life interventions have been called upon the WHO Independent Commission on the Social Determinants of Health to close the health gap in one generation (CSDH 2008). In particular, we use mothers’ access to ante-natal care services as an example of an early life intervention. The benefits of ante-natal care for children will be measured in terms of improved nutrition. Crucial for this research is the role of maternal education and its interaction with early life interventions. We hope that this paper provides clear evidence that is useful for the 2013 Education for All Global Monitoring Report which will examine the wider benefits of education in the context of development.
Dr Ricardo Sabates, Senior Lecturer in International Education and Development, University of Sussex Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2013/4 Education for All Global Monitoring Report shows why education is pivotal for development in a rapidly changing world. It explains how investing wisely in teachers, and other reforms aimed at strengthening equitable learning, transform the long-term prospects of people and societies.
Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality For All, EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013-14, Paris: UNESCO, 2014.