UNESCO Report Shows Sobering Global Education Progress

Fifteen years ago an educational framework was set in Dakar, Senegal at the World Education Forum that established goals to achieve “Education for All” by 2015. Since then, the number of children who are now out of school has fallen by half, but there are still 58 million children out of school globally and around 100 million children who do not complete primary education according to the report.

Of course, it is the world’s poorest children who are largely not attending school. In fact, poor children globally are four times less likely to attend school than the world’s richest children. And since the World Education Forum in 2000, only one third of countries have achieved all of the measurable Education for All (EFA) goals.

There has been some progress since 2000, however. 184 million children were enrolled in pre-primary education worldwide, an increase of nearly two-thirds since 1999. And yet, for older children, especially those who live in sub-Saharan Africa, 20 percent of enrolled children drop out before graduating.

While two-thirds of all countries will reach gender parity in primary school enrollment, there are still millions of girls who are secondary school age who are not attending school for a variety of factors including cultural reasons, menstruation, school fees, the need to take care of younger siblings and work at home.

Of the low-income sub-Saharan African countries, only Tanzania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, and Togo reached their spending goals on education by 2012. This is important because sub-Saharan Africa still lags behind all regions in reaching its overall educational goals. To be sure, funding needs to be increased across the board and in all regions. Only 38 percent of all countries reached its target educational funding goals by 2012.

“The world has made tremendous progress towards Education for All,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. “Despite not meeting the 2015 deadline, millions more children are in school than would have been had the trends of the 1990s persisted. However, the agenda is far from finished. We need to see specific, well-funded strategies that prioritize the poorest – especially girls, improve the unescoquality of learning and reduce the literacy gap so that education becomes meaningful and universal.”

Today’s report was launched one month ahead of the World Education Forum that will be held in South Korea. This new meeting will take into consideration the educational progress and challenges since 2000 and will also set forth a Framework of Action for the world’s educational goals post 2015.

Read the current report: Education for All 2000 – 2015: Achievements and Challenges.

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