15.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in Doha

SDG4 Framework for Action: Symposium on Policy implications of learning assessments to enhance educational quality in the GCC to be held in Doha

UNESCO is organizing a symposium on SDG 4 which will focus on existing data on learning achievement in the GCC countries as a starting point including data on reading ability, mathematics, science, and the extent to which education imparts “21st century skills” among pupils and students in primary and secondary education which will be held in Doha, Qatar from 16-18 May 2017.

The global development context has significantly changed, spurring fresh challenges and opportunities that call for reviewing the way we conceptualize education. Sustainable Development Goal 4 reaffirms the focus on effective and relevant learning outcomes at all levels of education and skills development.We need to leverage what we know about how learners learn, and the skills they need to thrive in the future. 

This symposium will map the current educational landscape in each of the six GCC countries providing updates on enrollment in primary, lower and upper secondary in the public versus the private sector; the range of types of schools; and the share of private schools providing education based on national curriculum. Country presentations by national delegates will provide an overview of current situation of the learning environment and existing data on national and international assessments.

UNESCO Doha office conducted a research study examining learning and learning outcomes in public schools in the Gulf States. The symposium will provide a platform to share insights gained from reviewing educational systems in the Gulf States and raise pertinent questions: How do teachers’ perceive their self-efficacy in teaching specific subjects such as mathematics, science, or reading? Are there any differences in lower and higher grades in how teachers are teaching? What characterizes the differences between girls’ and boys’ schools in the Gulf States? Are girls and boys performing in similar ways or are there differences in boys’ schools and girls’ schools within any specific country?

Most of the countries in the Gulf States demonstrated a commitment to improving learning outcomes by incorporating national and international assessments including TIMMS, PISA & EGRA. Analysis of data in assessments of learning outcomes and comparative surveys such as PISA (2009), PIRLS and TIMSS (2011), the UNESCO EFA GMR 2013 and IBE World Data on Education, indicate that average levels of student learning in the GCC countries is low.

This 3-day technical symposium, including school visits, will focus on exploring the policy implications to improve learning in the Gulf States. Specific focus of the sub-regional symposium include: 

  1. Nature of existing learning data in GCC: What learning assessment data currently exists on GCC countries from both national and cross-national learning assessments? What is the nature of this data? What learning domains or skills/competencies are assessed? At what grade level/age groups ?
  1. Analysis of existing data: What analysis has been undertaken of this assessment data in each of the six countries and/or collectively? What are the findings of these analyses?
  1. Policy implications: What are the implications of this analysis in terms of classroom/school-based practices (teaching/learning methods, including formative assessment, classroom and school management), and/or policy implications in terms of curriculum design, national learning assessment systems, teacher training and other areas?

The objectives of the seminar will be:

  1. To review the findings of analyses of existing (national and cross-national) learning assessment data in GCC countries.
  2. To review measures that have been taken in the areas of national curriculum, learning assessment systems, school management, and teacher training in each of the GCC countries.
  3. To explore policy implications in terms of classroom/school-based practices, curriculum design, national learning assessment systems, teacher training and other areas.



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