Recently many more children around the world have gained access to basic education. However, we do not know how well increased access to education has translated into learning in many low- and middle-income countries. Between 2005 and 2013, only 61 countries measured the foundational reading skills of children in the early grades of primary schooling. The ability to read and understand a simple text is one of the most fundamental skills a child can learn. Yet in many countries, students enrolled in school for as many as 6 years are unable to read and understand simple texts.
As the leading global advocate for children, UNICEF has a pivotal role in facilitating the generation of high quality, up-to-date information on the wellbeing of children. While the current MICS education module has provided essential data on school participation and educational attainment, there have been growing, diverse data demands by governments, by the international community and within UNICEF.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Target 4.1 (By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes), call for more data on cross-nationally comparable data on learning outcomes. Enhanced involvement of parents in education (at home or in the management of the education system) can be meaningful to progress towards these goals and further data on these dimensions are also very relevant.
A new MICS methodological paper examines the development of two new MICS modules which are aimed at gauging children's learning: Parental Involvement (PR) and Foundational Learning skills (FL) on literacy and numeracy. These are modules which are intended to partly address SDG Target 4.1 and provide countries with a household-survey tool that can be used to gauge learning in children and understand how parents influence this process.