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Pearson Global Learner Survey: Majority Want to Increase Their Understanding of Equity and Social Issues

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70% of people in the UK believe education on diversity, equity and inclusion should begin in primary school or earlier 

New global polling data released today by Pearson shows that people are reporting a renewed interest in educating themselves about issues of social injustice, diversity and equality, as these topics become more present and urgent in the world: 

  • More than 60% (44% in UK) feel they could learn more about a variety of diversity issues  
  • 80% of respondents (68% in UK) are actively trying to educate themselves about issues related to social justice, diversity or gender equality  
  • Interest is even higher among younger generations, with 85% of Gen Z (76% in UK) and 84% of Millennial (78% in UK) respondents reporting learning more about these topics 

In addition, people believe schools have an important role to play, with seven in ten British respondents believing that children should begin learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion in primary school or earlier (this was more than 50% globally) 

  • 83% of respondents (81% in UK) believe that schools are just as responsible for teaching social issues as academic topics  

The findings come from the second instalment of Pearson’s 2021 Global Learner Survey, a look at attitudes and issues relating to learning worldwide. Polling 5,000 consumers in five countries (Brazil, China, India, the UK and US) aged 16-70, this survey looked at how people are learning about diversity, equity, and access, exploring what they expect from education systems when it comes to preparing young people to live in a diverse society. 

“People have always shown a desire for knowledge and a willingness to continue learning over the course of their lives,” said Dr. Florida Starks, chief diversity officer, Pearson.

“Over the past year, they watched as new attention was given to issues that have been overlooked by many for too long. Rather than turn away, they decided to take action, turning to friends, family, the media, and many other sources to educate themselves, while also looking for our education system to do more to prepare the next generation of students to thrive in a diverse, inclusive, and equitable society.” 

Other findings include: 

Equal education for all?

Respondents believe schools are making progress providing an equal education for all students, with 63% globally (72% UK) saying they trust their current education system to provide a quality education for all. But there is still much work to be done, particularly around support for LBGTQ+ students: 

  • 56% of respondents around the world (57% in UK) believe that the education system in their country is doing enough to teach about race, gender and inequality 
  • 72% of respondents (62% in UK) agree that schools need to do more to support LBGTQ+ students  

Different Generations, Different Education

When asked to reflect back on their own education, there are clear generational shifts, with 21% of Gen Xers feeling that race and gender equality were adequately discussed when they were in school compared to 34% of Gen Zers in the UK:  

  • In the UK older generations were less likely to feel that race and gender equality were adequately discussed when they were in school – 34% of Gen Zers (1997-2012); 36% of Millennials (1981-1996); 21% of Gen Xers (1965-1980); and 28% of baby boomers (1946-1964) 

Generally, respondents feel at least moderately well informed about race and gender equality issues but are less informed about the issues affecting people who are LGBTQ+, with:  

  • The overwhelming majority of respondents (92% globally/91% in UK) feel at least moderately well informed about race and inequality issues, and 92% globally (90% in UK) feeling at least moderately well informed about gender and equality issues 
  • However, more than a quarter of respondents (26%) report that they are not at all well informed about the issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community (23% in UK) 

Education on these issues comes from a variety of other sources too, not just education institutions: 

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  • Around the world, both social and news media are seen as the most important sources for increasing knowledge about diversity, equity, and inclusion 
  • How people are accessing information on these topics differs generationally, with 57% Gen Xers and 68% Baby Boomer respondents in the UK predominately learning about these issues through the news media, and 46% of Millennials and 62% Gen Z UK respondents turning to social media  
  • Among UK respondents, 48% report reading a news article to learn more about the issues affecting others, while 46% report that they have watched a documentary, 42% have researched topics online and 34% have spoken with a friend or family member 

About the Pearson Global Learner Survey research: This poll was conducted by Morning Consult from May 27 – June 1, 2021, among a total sample of 5,500 people in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, India, and China between 16 and 70 years of age. The interviews were conducted online. Results are representative of the online population with a margin of error of plus and minus 2 percentage points. Now in its third year, Pearson’s Global Learner Survey is the leading poll of learners and on education issues in the world, offering a deeper understanding of trends in education and providing key data to help further discussions on many important issues.


Youth & COVID-19: Impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being 

11th Aug 2020: The “Youth & COVID-19: Impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being” report by ILO captures the immediate effects of the pandemic on the lives of young people (aged 18–29) with regards to employment, education, mental well-being, rights and social activism. Over 12,000 responses were received from young people in 112 countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives. Even before the onset of the crisis, the social and economic integration of young people was an ongoing challenge. Now, unless urgent action is taken, young people are likely to suffer severe and long-lasting impacts from the pandemic.

This study reports the findings from the Global Survey on Youth and COVID-19 conducted by partners of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth between April and May 2020. This was at the time when the COVID-19 pandemic had rapidly translated into an economic crisis.

The Global Survey aimed to capture the immediate effects of the pandemic on the lives of young people (aged 18–29) with regards to employment, education, mental well-being, rights and social activism. Over 12,000 responses were received from 112 countries, with a large proportion coming from educated youth and those with Internet access. The survey population is representative of students and working youth with a tertiary education, who together account for about a quarter of youth in the countries sampled.

The study finds the impact of the pandemic on young people to be systematic, deep and disproportionate. It has been particularly hard on young women, younger youth and youth in lower-income countries.

One in six younger adults stopped working since the outbreak of COVID, with young workers aged 18 to 24 more likely to lose their jobs.

One in eight young students were left without any access to education or training.

Young people are concerned about the future and their place within it. This study is their story.

DECENT JOBS FOR YOUTH

The global initiative for action: Decent Jobs for Youth is the global initiative to scale up action and impact on youth employment in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This platform is a hub for catalyzing partnerships, collaboration and coordinated action grounded in evidence-based strategies. Our vision is a world in which young women and men everywhere have greater access to decent jobs.

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