With just three years to go until the deadline for the Education for All goals, the 2012 Report identifies that progress towards many of the goals is slowing down, and that the goals are unlikely to be met.
1: Expand early childhood care and education
This goal is way off track and progress has been too slow:
- Less than half of children went to pre-school in 2010. In poor countries, less than one in six children go to pre-school.
- By 2015, it is estimated that a quarter of children under five years old will be suffering from stunting.
2: Achieve universal primary education:
It is no longer possible for this goal to be met:
- Progress on reducing out-of-school numbers has ground to a halt since 2008, leaving 61 million out of school. The number of children out of school increased in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- In at least 87 countries, fewer than 80% of children of official school age entered school in 2010. It will now be impossible for them to complete the primary cycle by the 2015 deadline.
- Of 100 children out of school, 47 are expected never to enter.
- In poor countries, four out of ten children drop out of school before the last grade.
3: Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
Despite huge advances since 1999, progress in reducing the number of out-of-school adolescents has stagnated since 2007:
- 71 million adolescents are still not in school and are missing out on essential foundation skills.
- Three out of four out-of-school adolescents live in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
- In poor countries, only around half of adolescents enroll in lower secondary school
- Despite recent improvements in measuring skills, data will not be available to assess fully progress towards goal 3 before the 2015 deadline.
4: Reduce adult illiteracy by 50%
Most countries will miss Goal 4, some by a large margin:
- 775 million adults are illiterate, two thirds of whom are women
- Only 9 out of 10 young people are literate today, meaning that illiteracy is unlikely to be eradicated in the near future.
- Poor literacy skills are a problem in rich countries too, where 160 million adults do not have sufficient literacy skills to read a newspaper or apply for a job
5: Achieve gender parity and equality
Gender parity is the biggest success of the EFA goals, but the Arab States and Sub-Saharan Africa are still lagging behind the target. More progress is needed to ensure girls and young women have equal opportunities:
- At primary school, 68 countries have still not achieved gender parity, and girls are disadvantaged in 60 of them.
- Extreme disparities are on the wane in primary education. The number of countries with fewer than nine girls per ten boys in primary school has almost halved since 1999.
- At secondary school, 97 countries have not achieved gender parity. In more than half of these – predominantly in upper middle and high income countries - boys are more disadvantaged than girls.
6: Improve the quality of education
Millions of children who go to school do not learn the basics:
- Of the 650 million children of primary school age, 250 million cannot read or count whether they’re in school or not.
- There was a small improvement in the number of primary school pupils per teacher in the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa and South West Asia, however, teacher numbers have not been able to keep pace with enrolment and pupil-teacher ratios have worsened since 1999.
- In a third of countries with data, at least a quarter of teachers at primary schools were not trained to the national standard.
FINANCING EDUCATION FOR ALL
A few low and middle income countries have made cuts to their education budgets during the economic downturn, but the education sector overall has not yet suffered as much in national government spending as feared.
Despite global promises to achieve Education for All, aid and government spending are showing worrying signs of slowing down:
- For the first time, total aid decreased last year. Aid to education is likely to stagnate until 2015.
- Less than $2 billion in aid went to basic education in low income countries; this is a long way from the US$16 billion needed for education.
- The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have potential to make a big impact in achieving Education for All, but their aid to education at the moment is very limited. India allocated just 2% of its aid 2008-2010 to education, for example, compared with 25% for energy projects.
The Private Sector
The private sector’s contributions, made up in the vast majority by just five corporations, add up to the equivalent of just 5% of official aid. Corporations, the first beneficiaries of an educated, skilled population, must step forward alongside governments and donors to help fill the funding gap.
- Their contributions are often more closely linked to their business interests than to EFA goals and government plans.
- Large amounts of private funding goes to higher education even though only a minority of children makes it through to that stage.
- Most of the IT sector’s support goes to emerging economies – such as Brazil, India and China – rather than to developing countries most in need.