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Global Education Issues: Making a Difference Through Policy

October 22, 2019

Behind every teacher around the world lies a much larger force at work: education policy. The term refers to the legislation, regulations, and resources that shape and impact the curricula, environments, and teachers that students encounter. Because of the nature of these policies, they often address key global education issues that affect a student’s ability to get the best education possible. Ideally, the policies created include solutions to these issues.

Due to the increasingly complex systems that govern schools and global education organizations, if you are interested in entering the education field, you may want to consider earning an online Master of Education (MEd) in Education Policy and Leadership. Both degrees can help you develop expert knowledge of the various issues that can impact education and help foster the leadership skills you need to be a social change agent.

What Does Education Policy Look Like?

Education policy focuses on several key concepts, including:

  • Education budgets
  • Curriculum requirements
  • Testing guidelines
  • Infrastructures
  • Teachers’ unions
  • Private education systems
  • Faith-based education systems
  • Public education systems

Additionally, government institutions at the local, state, and federal levels have a hand in implementing education policy. Furthermore, a growing number of education-focused international organizations and agencies interact and collaborate with federal institutions to help them meet their goals.

Examples of Global Education Policy Issues

The roadblocks that effective global education policies look to rectify are far-reaching. Some of the most pressing global education issues are related to not only how education is delivered but also what is being taught. It is important for individuals interested in global education policy and leadership to understand these issues and how resolving them can bring about substantial impacts.

Climate Change

UNESCO points to a need to promote climate change awareness through education in order to fight climate change at its roots. If students are not made aware of the dangers of climate change, they reason, then students will be less inclined to act on healing the planet. In the long term, this can have dire consequences for the planet and citizens around the globe.

Gender Inequality

The status of young women in society may severely impact their access to education. In some areas, sending girls to school is seen as less of a worthwhile investment than sending boys. It is a widespread issue—UNESCO estimates that 16 million girls will never have the chance to even attend class. Other issues such as violence, trafficking, early marriage and pregnancy, and cultural attitudes concerning the status of women and gender roles also fuel this discrepancy.

Lack of Resources

Some countries lack the essential infrastructure to build a consistent educational experience for students. These infrastructure weaknesses include inadequate facilities, lack of textbooks, lack of skilled teachers, and insufficient parental and community involvement.

Socioeconomic Issues

In some countries, the socioeconomic structure can present roadblocks to consistent education, either for the country as a whole or for certain populations based on their demographics. For instance, budget deficits can make it extremely difficult to implement even the smallest change, and families may also lack the funds needed for transportation, books, and supplies—even when tuition is free. Additionally, the world is currently facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II, a problem that is severely interrupting the education of millions of children around the world. Furthermore, social fragmentation and practices such as violence as a means of political discourse can also make this roadblock more imposing—even in developed countries such as the United States.

A Path Ahead

Fortunately, there are efforts around the world to address the issues that can inhibit flourishing educational opportunities. Some of these efforts stem from simply providing a model for what an ideal structure may look like, as countries with strong education systems like Finland and South Korea serve as examples for other nations to follow.

Some of the key efforts are the result of efforts from organizations such as UNESCO, the World Bank, the Global Partnership for Education, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). These organizations work extensively with developing countries to help students overcome obstacles that may otherwise impede their path to quality, impactful education. Their efforts are making a positive impact.

Steps Towards Quality Education

UNESCO’s work is a prime example of these global education policy efforts in action. In 2017, UNESCO released a list of 10 goals to help ensure that students around the world receive a quality education. Its objectives include creating universal preprimary, primary, and secondary education; creating effective learning environments; increasing the number of qualified teachers; and achieving gender equality and inclusion. The organization also produces an annual Global Education Monitoring Report. This report highlights ways to rectify particularly pressing issues impacting global education, such as migration, inclusion, and technology.

Many organizations have heeded UNESCO’s call and are actively trying to bridge the gap between strong education systems and those facing steep challenges. One way that agencies try to improve education and help implement education policy is through technology. E-readers, smartphones, and online libraries can offer a wealth of educational material at the touch of a fingertip. Technology also helps teachers manage classrooms, track individual progress, and tailor lessons to a child’s needs.

In India, for example, EkStep, a philanthropic organization, created an open digital platform that provides students and teachers with educational content, worksheets, activities, resources, readings, and other material to help them learn. The World Bank has also launched several projects in countries like Burundi, Pakistan, Morocco, and Turkey to integrate technology and education, with some projects extending to teach digital skills to young women who may not have had such an opportunity in school.

How to Get Into Education Policy

The path toward a dynamic career in education policy begins with pursuing a degree. While there’s technically not a prerequisite here, earning a master’s degree in education, such as a Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership, is commonly considered the educational benchmark for success.

Gaining extensive experience in the education field is equally vital for success. This doesn’t necessarily mean gaining experience in the classroom as a teacher. Spending several years in an adjacent field, such as working as a school administrator, a journalist, or a government worker can provide an individual with a valuable level of hands-on experience.

Pursue a Rewarding Career

Global education policy roles can be demanding. Yet those who pursue these roles can promote change in the education landscape and make a substantial positive impact on children around the globe. This makes a career in global education policy a rewarding and fulfilling one.

American University’s online MEd in education policy and leadership program can be a critical component of your journey in global education policy, with courses such as Educational Leadership and Organizational Change, Economic Inquiry in Education, and Education and Public Policy. Our programs are designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively address a wide host of global educational issues, so you can strive to make quality education accessible to all. Learn how we can help you take a vital step toward a satisfying career.