Governments and development agencies met at Jomtien in 1990 and Dakar in 2000 and committed themselves to achieve ‘Education for All’ (EFA). Most aid to education is now the umbrella of EFA and its associated goals, targets and indicators. This paper selects some of the indicators used for EFA and analyses their strengths and weaknesses. Gross and net enrolment rates (GERs and NERs) are widely used to assess levels of enrolment, but their changing values can provide misleading signals to policy makers. Gender Parity Indices foreground differences in participation related to children’s sex but can conceal underlying patterns of participation and imbalances in the population sex ratio. The Education Development Index is a highly aggregated composite index which is ambiguous to interpret. Devising better indicators requires a more nuanced understanding of what indicators do, and do not, measure, and an appreciation of which targets are most useful at different levels for different purposes.
Journal of Education Policy (2011) 26 (4) 571-587 [DOI:10.1080/02680939.2011.555003]