Last month UNESCO published the 10th annual Education For All Global Monitoring Report. Developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO, the GMR is an authoritative reference on the global community’s commitment and progress towards Education for All.
In April 2000 more than 1,100 participants from 164 countries gathered in Dakar, Senegal, for the World Education Forum. The participants, ranging from teachers to prime ministers, academics to policy-makers, non-governmental bodies to the heads of major international organizations, adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments and agreed upon six wide-ranging education goals to be met by 2015. Parts of these goals went on to form the basis of the Millennium Development Goal to achieve universal primary education by 2015 (MDG 2).
As Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, says in her foreword to the report, “there has been undeniable progress” in some areas, like expansion of early childhood care and improvements in gender parity in primary schools. But overall, the news is not good. Bokova says:
“With three years to go until the 2015 deadline, the world is still not on track. Progress towards some goals is faltering. The number of children out of school has stagnated for the first time since 2000. Adult literacy and quality of education still demand faster progress.”
The report makes for depressing reading. Here are some of the headlines:
- Improvements in early childhood care have been too slow. In 2010, around 28% of children under five suffered from stunting, and less than half the world’s children received pre-primary education.
- Progress towards universal primary education is stalling. 61 million children of primary age are still out of school around the world. And frighteningly, for every 100 children out of school, 47 are never expected to go to school.
- Many young people lack even basic foundation skills. UNESCO estimates that in 123 low and lower middle income countries, around 200 million 15-24 year olds have not even completed primary school, equivalent to one in five young people.
- Adult literacy remains an elusive goal. The number of illiterate adults has dropped by just 12% between 1990 and 2010. Around 775 million adults remain illiterate, two-thirds of them women.
- Gender disparities remain in many countries. In 2010 there were still 17 countries with fewer than nine girls for every ten boys in primary school. In another twist, in more than half of the 96 countries that have not achieved gender parity at secondary school, boys are at a disadvantage.
- Global inequality in learning outcomes remains stark. As many as 250million children are still unable to read or write by the time they should be reaching grade 4 of school.
At RESULTS we have long campaigned for more progress on achieving education for all children, no matter what country they live in, how much money their parents have, whether they are a girl or a boy, or a child living with a disability.
As we get closer to the 2015 deadline for the existing global goals, we will be continuing to push for the UK and other global leaders to do more to support children, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalised, to access and complete a quality education. And as the world begins to turn its attention to developing a new set of goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, we will be urging that education and the unfinished business of Education For All remain central to all our development efforts.
After all, without education, what progress is possible?