Unit 3:The UNICEF Approach to Quality Education

Welcome to Unit 3

The purpose of this unit is to introduce you to one of a number of approaches to defining quality education.
This is important, because as you have read in the previous module there have been failures in improving education systems in developing countries, especially in terms of retaining children in school, which can be attributed to low education quality.

It is also worth mentioning here that the UNICEF mission related to Child Centred Development covered in an earlier unit also requires a higher level of quality in education if full human potential is to be achieved.

Before you examine some quite complex frameworks of quality you should personally think about the quality of education in primary school.

  1. Imagine you were a parent in a developing country and were looking at 3-4 schools to which you could send your 5 years old child. (We know this is unlikely, but just use your imagination)

2. How would you decide which school was best for your child, assuming they are all free and all nearby your home?

3. Write down a list of as many criteria you would use to measure and judge the schools.

4. Now choose the most important 5, but only do this after you have a big list.

5. Now put your top 5 in order, most important as #1 etc.

This is no different than if you were about to buy a new door for your home. You wouldn’t just go to a shop or a door-maker and say “I want a door please!” You would have a specification, a clear view of what was most needed, your requirements. This would guide the door-maker to get it right for you.

So, is the door for the inside of your house or the outside?

Is it to be made of wood, metal or plastic!

Does it need a lock?

Is it to be plain or decorative with panels or carving?

What style of handle does it need!

Which way round will it open?

What colour do you want?

Is it to be solid or with some glass to see through?

Not so simple is it? This may seem like a crazy example, but it shows how something MUST be defined first before work begins or you could end up with something you don’t want or very unexpected. This is how important your list of requirements is for your chosen school, it is far too important to make a mistake for your child. Now understand how important it is to get it right for EVERY child in your country!

The first large framework defining quality education we will show you is from UNICEF. It was presented at a conference in Italy in June 2000, obviously at the time that the Millennium Development Goals were being determined. It should therefore have played a major role in helping developing countries such as Nepal with their education strategies, such as the SSRP.

We respectfully acknowledge the work of those involved and you can view and download the full working document here Unicef Framework


UNICEF Quality Education Framework


Look at this framework and write some notes about it.

  1. What are your first thoughts?
  2. What is your opinion of its structure or organisation?
  3. What is your opinion of its content/sections?
  4. What do you MOST like about it?
  5. What do you LEAST like about it?
  6. How could you use it to develop a whole education system?
  7. How could you use it to develop a single school?

Please write your views now and keep them, we will return to them in the next two units before we give our own review.

In Summary:

  1. The framework is targeting 5 quality outcomes as goals or objectives.
  2. The framework has 4 inputs that should be made to achieve these outcomes.
  3. Each input contains more detail describing specific requirements to be input.

Finally, in the UNICEF report a very important statement was made about this framework by the Director of UNICEF Programme Division as follows:

“This definition allows for an understanding of education as a complex system embedded in a political, cultural and economic context. (This paper examines research related to these dimensions). It is important to keep in mind education’s systemic nature, however; these dimensions are interdependent, influencing each other in ways that are sometimes unforeseeable.This paper will be important for UNICEF Education Officers to read as they plan programmes that focus on enhancing the quality of education programmes. Knowledge of what has been done in the name of quality education around the world, and what the outcomes have been, will be useful background information for Programme Planning.”
Sadig Rasheed
Director Programme Division
UNICEF Headquarters, New York
October 2000

Now move on to the next unit to learn about the UNESCO framework from 5 years later in 2005. Click Unit 4:The UNESCO Approach