Only a third of countries have achieved all measurable goals
Just one-third of the countries have achieved all of the measurable Education for All (EFA) goals set in 2000. Only half of all countries have achieved the most-watched goal of universal primary enrollment.
An extra $22 billion a year will be needed on top of existing government contributions to ensure the new education targets being set for 2030 are met.
These are the key findings of the 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR) “Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges.” Produced by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), the report has tracked progress on EFA goals for the past 15 years.
Despite not meeting the 2015 deadline, Unesco director general Irina Bokova says millions more children are in school than would have been had the 1990s trends persisted.
But she says there is a need for specific, well-funded strategies that prioritize the poorest—especially girls—improve the quality of learning and reduce the literacy gap to make education meaningful and universal.
Released a month before the World Education Forum in Incheon, Korea, the report’s findings are:
Goal 1. Expand early childhood care and education: Forty-seven percent of countries reached the goal and another 8 percent were close. Twenty percent were very far from the goal. Yet, in 2012, nearly two-thirds more children were enrolled in early childhood education than in 1999.
Goal 2. Achieve universal primary education: Fifty-two percent of countries achieved this goal; 10 percent are close and the remaining 38 percent are far or very far from achieving it. This means almost
100 million children will not complete primary education this year. Lack of focus on the marginalized leaves the poorest five times less likely to complete primary education than the richest. Over a third of out-of- school children live in conflict-affected zones.
Important successes include: Around 50 million more children are in school now than in 1999. While education is still not free in many places, cash-transfer and school feeding programs have raised school enrollment for the poor.
Goal 3. Ensure equal access to learning and life skills for youth and adults: Forty-six percent of countries reached universal lower secondary enrollment. Globally, numbers in lower secondary education increased by 27 percent and more than doubled in sub-Saharan Africa. But one-third of adolescents in low-income countries will not complete lower secondary school in 2015.
Goal 4. Achieving a 50 percent reduction in levels of adult illiteracy: Only 25 percent of countries reached the goal;
32 percent remain very far from it. Globally, the percentage of illiterate adults fell from 18 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2015 but this is almost entirely due to more educated young people reaching adulthood. Women still make up almost two-thirds of the illiterate adult population. Half of sub-Saharan African women do not have basic literacy skills.
Goal 5. Achieve gender parity and equality: Gender parity will be achieved at the primary level in 69 percent of countries by 2015. At secondary level, only 48 percent of countries will reach the goal. Child marriage and early pregnancy continue to hinder girls’ progress in education, as does the need for teacher training in gender sensitive approaches and curriculum reform.
4M more teachers needed
Goal 6. Improve the quality of education and ensure measurable learning outcomes for all: The pupils-teacher ratio at the primary level was reduced in 121 of 146 countries between 1990 and 2012. But 4 million more teachers are still needed. Trained teachers remain in short supply in one-third of countries; in several sub-Saharan African countries, less than 50 percent are trained. But education quality has received increased attention since 2000; the number of countries carrying out national learning assessments has doubled.
Funding and political will: Since 2000, many governments significantly increased their spending on education:
38 countries increased their commitment to education by
1 percentage point or more of the gross national product. Funding remains a major obstacle at all levels.
GMR director Aaron Benavot says that without a concerted action and greater attention to education, millions of children will continue to miss out and the transformative vision of the new Sustainable Development agenda will be jeopardized.
He says governments must find ways to mobilize new resources and international partners should ensure aid gets to those most in need.
The GMR recommends:
Complete the EFA agenda: Governments should make at least one year of preprimary education compulsory. Education must be free for all children: fees for tuition, textbooks, school uniforms and transport must be abolished. Policy makers should identify and prioritize skills to be acquired at each stage of schooling. Literacy policies should link up with the needs of communities. Teacher training should include gender-focused strategies. Teaching styles should better reflect student needs and the diversity of classroom contexts.
Equity: Governments, donors and civil society must develop programs and target funding to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged. Governments should close critical data gaps to direct resources to those most in need.
Post-2015: Future targets for education must be specific, relevant and realistic. In many countries, even the core goal of achieving universal primary education will remain out of reach without concerted efforts.
Close the finance gap: The international community, in partnership with countries, must bridge the $22 billion annual finance gap for quality preprimary and basic education for all by 2030. Clear education finance targets must be established within the Sustainable Development Goals.
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