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UN Study Says Global Education Has Declined

The number of children and young adolescents receiving education has worsened in a time when primary and secondary education goals have been put in place, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

In a study released this month, the UIS data for the school year in 2013 shows that 124 million children and young adolescents have either dropped out of school or never started school. This number rose by 2 million since 2011. The number of primary school aged children not in school increased by 2.4 million between 2010 and 2013. Of these 59 million children, 9 percent are denied the right to education. In addition, there are almost 65 million young adolescents not receiving an education.

The UIS study offers two causes to explain the rise in children and young adolescents out of school.

First, areas in Sub-Saharan Africa have struggled to provide schooling to communities with populations of people aged mostly 6 to 15 years. These developing areas have not yet created stable economies to create proper schools and education systems for the majority of their citizens.

The second reason that the UIS focuses on is the grand procedures that were taken by many countries to create greater access to education. These measures launched global education at the start of the century but did little to institute strategies for continual improvement.

To fix this problem, Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director General, agrees with the report that new methods and “serious commitments” must be implemented to reach communities with the least amount of children and young adolescents in school.

“Targeted interventions are needed to reach the most marginalized children and youth who are out of school today, including those with disabilities; from ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities; and children affected by armed conflict,” the UIS study said.

The study also said that the large attempts to end gender discrimination in education have not been successful. In South and West Asia, less than half of the children and young adolescents receiving education are girls.

“While the gap is considerably smaller than in the early 2000s, UIS data show little improvement in recent years, despite the many campaigns and initiative designed to break the barriers that keep girls out of school,” UIS said.

With hopes of changing these numbers, a summit in September will host world leaders in hopes of creating new Sustainable Development Goals to address education.

Although this is a great step for bettering global education, improving education will be more difficult than ever. The World Education Forum in Korea in May 2015 said that in order to achieve education goals, 12 years of funding must be given. Additionally, the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report team has projected that a sum of at least US$39 billion will be needed to fund universal satisfactory secondary education by 2030.

Aaron Benavot, Director of the EFA GMR, also said that funding needs to be drastically increased: “Aid needs to be shooting upwards, not creeping up by a few percentage points.”

Benavot said that The Oslo Summit on Education for Development and the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in August will show whether or not donors are willing. In agreement with Benavot, the UIS suggests that improvement from the levels reached in 2010 does not look promising, and donors must move education to the top of their list to really make a difference. A large change in funding must be made in order to start a worldwide effort for access to education. This year will show if our world is truly ready to fight for education.

– Fallon Lineberger

Sources: UNESCO 1, UNESCO 2, United Nations
Photo: Saturno