Five Principles to Guide Measuring of Equity in Learning


“Only a few of us may not have heard the clarion cries for equity or equality in education, with politicians and others calling for ‘equitable education’ or ‘equality of opportunity’ or ‘equal outcomes’, with such terminology often used interchangeably.

In the Handbook on Measuring Equity in Education published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), we took a step back to look more in depth at equity and set out a conceptual framework for its measurement.

Defining the differences between equity and equality

Equity and equality are contested terms, meaning very different things to different people, and the way you see them depends on your own starting point. Are you focusing for example, on education financing, differences in access to schools, or how much – and how well – children learn?

Some researchers define inequality of educational opportunities as the extent to which things you can’t control (sex, poverty, being born in a rural area, etc), as opposed to the things you can control (effort), affect how much you learn or which grade you reach in school.

Inequality due to factors beyond one’s control are defined as unfair and priorities for policy change. But this way of framing the issue involves a dubious moral distinction. Are young children to be held responsible for the extent of their hard work when assessing whether an education system is fair or not?

The language of equal opportunities is problematic when applied to children, especially when effort and the ability to take advantage of opportunities depend on other circumstances, such as the need to work in the household or differences in school quality.” Read more at


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