Yesterday Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, launched the 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, which assesses progress toward the Education for All goals around the world. Mr Ban commented that ‘education should never be an accident of circumstances’, recognising that many countries, while making progress toward education for all, are leaving millions behind. These marginalised children are the poorest, frequently female, from ethnic and linguistic minorities or disabled. Mr Ban’s full speech is at the UNESCO website.
The report blasts the international community for a ‘collective aid failure’ and warns that the financial crisis threatens to set back progress worldwide. Even if poor countries managed to increase their revenue levels and allocate a greater percentage of their budgets to education, the report finds that there would be a $16 billion annual financing gap for 46 low-income countries which must be bridged to reach the Education for All goals.
The report criticises donors for exaggerating the amount of aid that they have provided, and argues that the flagship multilateral initiative for education, the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) needs fundamental reform because its payout rates are very low, developing countries have a weak voice, the private sector’s role is minimal and countries affected by conflict (in which over 50% of the world’s out-of-school children live) are poorly served.
The team behind the report developed a revolutionary new way of measuring ‘education poverty’ based on the number of years of schooling a person receives. ‘Education poverty’ is defined as receiving fewer than four years of schooling – the time needed to develop basic literacy and numeracy. The report identifies 22 countries with 30% or more young adults below the four-year threshold, and 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have 50% or more below the threshold. This level is far higher among marginalised populations.
You can read the full report at UNESCO’s website. The UK government, and in particular the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is a leading champion of education for all, must act on the findings of this report, supporting a major pledging conference of donors in 2010 and pushing strongly for the FTI to be transformed into an effective fully-funded Global Fund for Education.