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The Analytical Tool on Competencies underscores learning outcomes—signalling acquired competencies—as an ultimate evidence of a quality education system and learning effectiveness. Learners on the other hand are the “ultimate producers” of learning outcomes since competencies have to be acquired by them. All other elements—teachers, the curriculum, learning environment—of the UNESCO General Education Quality Analysis/Diagnosis Framework (GEQAF) are to facilitate learners in producing desired learning outcomes. The GEQAF holds a view of the learner as not only a beneficiary of these facilitators, but as a “self-benefitting agent,” a “benefactor” and “the prime human resource” on which a quality education system depends for its effectiveness. However, most education systems view learners as beneficiaries that need to be acted upon, helped and/or developed. While learners do need facilitation, nothing and/or no one can learn on behalf of the learner and no learning can happen without the learner’s self-benefitting agency. Thus, a view of learners as empowered prime human resources of quality education systems is fundamental to reaching and sustaining quality education and effective learning.

Like all key human resources of a productive enterprise, education enterprises need to intelligently and strategically invest in learners as their prime producers. Accumulating research evidence on learning specifically and on education in general suggests that to be effective self-benefitting agents, learners require facilitation of different types across stages of their life cycle. For instance, advancements in overall brain research and on brain plasticity in particular should guide not only the scope and nature of investments but also the nature of investment that should enable learner efficiency and effectiveness in the process of learning (See: Brain research on diverse learner needs across ages). We now know that investment in holistic child development (See: Holistic Child Development Index) between ages 0 to 8 is an indispensable facilitator of learner effectiveness in the learning process throughout life. Investment in early childhood development is the most resource efficient investment in the immediate and long term (See: Returns on investment in early years), and it is an early start at shared growth and inclusive development (See: Influential theories of learning ). At the same time, brain plasticity research informs us of appropriate opportunities for learners in the late ages . For Latin America and the Caribbean region, the WFP has calculated that governments lose significant income in labour market underachievement, and lower learning results, due to brain underdevelopment, which in turn is attributed to feeding deficiencies.

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