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Equitable Learning

Ensuring Equitable Learning by 2030

Ensuring Equitable Learning by 2030

Project summary

Over the past 15 years, considerable progress has been made in children are getting access to school worldwide, but this has not been accompanied by a commensurate increase in learning outcomes. Of the estimated 250 million children not learning the basics, around half have spent at least four years in school.

As the timeline for the Millennium Development Goals reaches its end, proposed post-2015 targets are shifting towards a greater focus on raising learning for all. This requires a particular focus is needed to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds, including poor girls, those living in rural areas, and children with disabilities, have the opportunity to learn.

This research project aims to inform these discussions. Our analysis assesses current patterns in learning, explores the nature of learning inequalities, and aims to identify their root causes. Further, the research aims to identify strategies that can help address these learning inequalities. It also identifies ways to improve data collection in the future for the purposes of research to inform policymaking.

Our analysis primarily draws on large scale, citizen-led surveys of learning and living conditions in households across south Asia and eastern Africa (namely, ASER India, ASER Pakistan, and Uwezo in East Africa). These data have the benefits of robust survey design, a nationally representative scale, and information on out-of-school children who are at risk of being overlooked by school-based surveys.

More specifically, our research includes:

  • An examination of the extent of wealth and gender disparities in learning in rural India and Pakistan, and the role that private schooling and private tuition have played.
  • An analysis of learning inequalities in South Asia and eastern Africa, together with a review of the research literature for potential policy mechanisms that might alleviate such disparities, and suggest approaches to improve future data collection and research.
  • An analysis of the determinants of trajectories in learning disparities in India over the primary school years.

Research team:

Principal Investigator: Pauline Rose
Co-Investigator: Ben Alcott

Country partners:

ASER India, ASER Pakistan, Uwezo (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda)


University of Cambridge; Department for International Development


June 2015 – ongoing


Alcott, B., and Rose, P. (2017). Learning in India’s primary schools: how do disparities widen across the grades? International Journal of Educational Development.

Alcott, B., Ilie, S., Rose, P. and Sabates, R (2017) 2016 Nestle Foundation Report (pg 34 & 35), looking at 'Progressive Universalism and Equality.' 

Ilie, S., Rose, P. and Sabates, R.(2016) 'Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries to Achieve Global Convergence in Learning' Education Commission

Rose, P and Zubairi, A. (2016) 'Raising Domestic Resources for Equitable Education' Education Commission

Alcott, B. and Rose, P. (2016) 'Does private schooling narrow wealth inequalities in learning outcomes? Evidence from East Africa' Oxford Review of Education.

Alcott, B. and Rose, P. (2015) ‘Schools and learning in rural India and Pakistan: who goes where, and how much are they learning?’ Prospects.

Rose, P. (2015) 'Is a global system of international large-scale assessments necessary for tracking progress of a post-2015 learning target?' Compare Vol 45 Issue 3: 486-490

Rose, P. (2015) ‘Three lessons for educational quality in post-2015 goals: Clarity, measurability and equity’ International Journal of Educational Development. Vol 40 (January): 289-246

Rose, P. and Alcott, B. (2015) How can education systems become equitable by 2030? DFID think pieces - learning and equity. HEART: Brighton


P.Rose, Let's get WISE about prioritizing investment in education, Global Partnership for Education, 6 November 2015

B. Allcott and P. Rose, Universal access to quality education: More and better learning data needed to track #GlobalGoals progress  International Growth Centre (IGC), 2 October 2015

Achieving the Education SDG: Start early and stay the course  Unicef, 1 October 2015

Five steps to achieving the goal of educating every child in the world The Guardian, 22 September 2015

A stepping-stones approach to leaving no one behind in learning, 25 August 2015

Bringing the data revolution to education, and education to the data revolution, 2 December 2014

Achieving equitable quality education post-2015: Indicators to measure progress towards learning and equity
Education and Development Forum (UKFIET), 27 November 2014

Achieving universal lower secondary education by 2030 – tracking progress of the marginalised Overseas Development Institute blog, 3 July 2014

What the Annual Status of Education Report tells us about learning inequalities in Pakistan
Right to Education Pakistan blog, 12 June 2014

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