Relevance/Responsiveness

As outlined in the introduction this Framework perceives sustained development responsiveness / relevance as starting point for determining what constitutes a quality education system within a given context. The world over, individuals, their families and their countries heavily invest in education not only because it is a human right, but also because of its well documented sustainable development impact. Because development is necessarily contextual, systems that support development –like the education and training system– have to necessarily be contextually responsive.

The development context has national, regional, global and time dimensions. An education and training system that fails to meet individual and collective development needs and aspirations cannot be considered as being of good quality. Yet more often than not education and training systems are castigated for their irrelevance to individual and collective needs and aspirations. Signals of this irrelevance range from the perceived or even real inability of the systems to enable learners for: effective learning at different levels of the system, acquisition of competencies commensurate to levels of educational attainment (See evidence from international competency tests), effective functioning in the world of work and in the labor market, and effective contribution to sustainable growth (See evidence linking economic growth to test scores on maths and science).

The education system is also blamed for not preparing learners to effectively contribute to national and global citizenship, civic responsibility, social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and living together. This Framework holds that inadequate understanding of the development context of an education and training system is a fundamental cause of its irrelevance to geographical and temporal development context(s), its irrelevance to individual and collective development needs, its "ineffectiveness for purpose" and therefore its poor quality. The Framework therefore takes a thorough analysis and a textured understanding of the development context(s) of an education and training system as an important starting point for determining the adequacy of the system to provide education quality and learning effectiveness.

A key focus of this Analytical Tool is to assist countries to ascertain how and if their general education system adequately responds to development challenges and effectively contributes toward development as envisaged and defined by the country. The paramount question addressed by this analytical tool is: Have we ensured that our general education system derives its purpose and strategic direction from its development context(s)? The Analytical Tool is meant to support the users’ analysis and identification of the sources of dissonance between the general education system and its development context(s), to prioritize them and to strengthen an analytic knowledge base for redressing the dissonance. The analysis is facilitated by posing some key questions pertaining to development relevance in specific country context(s) and to mechanisms for assuring relevance.

Country level relevance

1. How do we articulate our vision/concept for development of our country? Where is the vision/concept articulated? How and with whom is the vision/concept shared? Where is the evidence of a shared understanding of this vision/concept? How is the vision/ concept operationalized? Where is the evidence that it informs our general education system? What are the mechanisms for keeping the vision/concept current?

2. What are the key dimensions of the operational definition of the development concept? Who gets involved in this operational definition? Where is the evidence of their involvement?

3. Where in the country does the responsibility for operational conceptualization of development lies? How do these loci of responsibility interact with and inform the strengthening of the development relevance of the general education system? How adequate and sustainable are the response mechanisms?

4. How is the responsiveness of our general education system to our concept of development ensured and sustained? Where is the evidence of this sustained responsiveness?

5. How is the general education system positioned to benefit from national development? How is the education system positioned/ ranked among key levers of national development?

labor market and world of work responsiveness

What are the mechanisms for ensuring labor market/world of work responsiveness of general education? Where is the evidence that these mechanism work?

How do we attain and sustain labor market / world of work responsiveness? What are the key markers of labor market / world of work responsiveness? Where is the evidence of this sustained relevance?

External global level responsiveness

1. How do we ensure and sustain the general education system responsiveness to global development challenges and opportunities? Where is the evidence of sustained global relevance?

2. How is the general education system positioned to benefit from global development opportunities? How is the education system protected from global development threats?

External individual level responsiveness

 1. How do we ensure that the general education system optimally responds to development needs of individual learners, to their aspirations and to the aspirations of their families, households and communities? How does the system learn about these levels of needs and aspirations? Where is the evidence that these mechanisms work?

Internal system coherence and responsiveness

1. What are the mechanisms for ensuring that different levels of the general education system are internally coherent, support each other and mutually reinforce each other? How do we ensure that different aspects of the general education system internally cohere, support and mutually reinforce each other?

2. How do we support learner transitions between levels of the general education system and across the same levels of different pathways?

Priorities for action

1. Where and which are the most formidable sources of disconnect between the country’s development needs and the general education system? How can we redress the disconnect? Where and which are the most critical sources of dissonance between different clients’ development needs and the general education system? How can we redress the dissonance?

2. What are the most urgent steps needed to reduce disconnect and to assure adequate and sustainable responsiveness of the general education system?

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