In advocating for policy change we always talk about needing an ‘evidence-base’. Something which we can use to show that there is an issue, or that there has been progress, or that an intervention is not working. We can’t just work off our feelings on a situation; to be effective advocates for change we need to be grounded in reality.
At RESULTS, since 2015 we have been helping to develop such a base, the Right to Education Index (RTEI). RTEI is a global index built out of the international right to education framework to track national progress towards its fulfilment. Its primary tool is the RTEI Questionnaire which contains 79 questions and 365 data points and is structured into the themes of Governance, Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability, and Adaptability. Questions range from the legality of corporal punishment in schools, to whether there is a legal framework guaranteeing the right to education. All the responses are analysed, peer reviewed, provided to government for comment and then the data is calculated to provide an overall index score.
From our research, the UK scored 86 out of 100 which made it the highest scoring country. From that index score, we produced a country brief for the UK where we identified areas of further improvement based upon the RTEI evidence. Notably, its high score is a reflection of its work domestically and we are clear that this should be replicated through its ODA spending on education to ensure that it positions itself as a global leader in this field. An immediate priority for the UK should be to ensure a successful replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), with an ambitious UK pledge, as well as working to ensure that GPE’s programmes reflect and embody the principles tested in RTEI.
What though, gives RTEI its huge potential is its geographic spread. Led by RESULTS colleagues in the US, the RTEI partnership consists of organisations from Australia, Canada, Chile, DRC, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, South Korea, Tanzania, the U.S. and Zimbabwe. Each organisation is responsible for the questionnaire in their country which provides for a true, global partnership.
In late March, many of these partners gathered in Indonesia to turn the Index into advocacy. Experts from across the education sector presented on the various strategies that could be used in national-level advocacy campaigns. From parliamentary engagement to SDG shadow reporting, partners worked to support each other on finalising their strategies. Here at RESULTS UK, we’re delighted to be working with HakiElimu (Tanzania) and ECOZI (Zimbabwe) in providing global support to their national-level work. With the Index providing a good amount of evidence, the gaps in these countries provisions are able to be articulated and advocated on. Bringing global partners together has to be the future of advocacy and RTEI is driving forward international collaboration on the right to education advocacy.
There have already been successes. The global launch of the RTEI report, held in Jakarta on 24 March, was reported on by The Jakarta Post and the research was used to highlight some shortfalls in Indonesia’s domestic provision of education. Shortfalls which will now be advocated on in order to move towards a world where all people, no matter where they live, can enjoy their right to a quality education. It’s a bold ambition, but RTEI will prove to be a key part in making this ambition a reality.