Towards progressive universalism: the impact of inequalities on learning achievement

10 May 2017

Drawing on analysis of available large-scale datasets, this session will show how inequalities in learning between the rich and poor and, amongst the poor by gender, widen substantially over the primary school cycle. It will also identify that children with disabilities are most likely to be left behind. The evidence further demonstrates that access to higher education for children from poor households is strongly dependent on their learning in the early years. Analysis will be presented showing that, where children from poor backgrounds have the same opportunities as those from rich backgrounds, learning gaps narrow significantly. It will further identify the importance of changing the way in which public resources are allocated, to achieve ‘progressive universalism’. The Debate will conclude by identifying ways in which data collection could be improved in resource-poor environments to enable better monitoring of education SDGs related to learning, with a focus on tracking progress for the most disadvantaged groups.

Strategic Debate - 18 May 

  • Speaker: Pauline Rose, Director, Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, University of Cambridge
  • Moderator: Suzanne Grant Lewis (Director IIEP)

Thursday, 18 May 2017, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
IIEP – Auditorium
Contact: / 01 45 03 77 52


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Addressing inequities in education is a global imperative. The 2016 Education Commission Report highlights the inequities of educational access and learning outcomes, while the SDG 4 targets require progress in reducing inequities across geographic units, gender, ability groups, and within crisis-affected settings.

Beyond diagnosis and monitoring, what does research tell us about effective strategies to enhance equity and equality of opportunity in education? IIEP’s 2017 Strategic Debate series will explore this question from several perspectives, pushing us to go beyond understanding the nature of the problem to explore what can be, and is being, done, particularly through education policy and planning.