Paris, 26 October 2001
- Thirty-two countries are at grave risk of failing to enrol
all children in primary schools by 2015. In 15 of these countries,
less than half of children are attending school.
This warning is contained in
monitoring report released today on Education For All
(EFA), a global compact that commits countries to achieve
universal primary school enrolment, establish full gender
equality in primary and secondary enrolment, and cut adult
illiteracy levels in half, all by 2015. This report - prepared
by UNESCO with inputs from partner organizations - has been
released to coincide with the first annual High-level Meeting
on Education for All (October 29-30) at UNESCO Headquarters,
part of the follow-up to the World Education Forum held in
Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000.
One out of every five school-age
child in developing countries does not attend school. In sub-Saharan
Africa, Southern Asia and the Arab States, nearly 100 million
children, more than 60 percent of them girls, are not in school.
All told, the world will need to make room for an additional
156 million school-age children by 2015 over the number enrolled
in schools in 1997. Of that total, more than half - 88 million
children - will be from sub-Saharan Africa, while South Asian
and Arab States will need to find school places for 40 million
and 23 million more children, respectively.
A massive effort is required
in sub-Saharan Africa, which will have to increase its 1990s
pace of enrolment by between 2 and 3 times in order to achieve
universal primary education by 2015. Countries at grave risk
like Angola, the Central African Republic, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Liberia, Niger and Somalia
will need to accelerate ten-fold their 1990s pace of increased
The report finds that one in
five adults world-wide - some 875 million in all - are illiterate.
Halving the adult illiteracy rate between now and 2015 implies
adding around 90 million newly literate adults each year on
average. East Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean
can meet this EFA target by maintaining almost the same pace
as in the past decade. But countries like Egypt and India
must increase by two-fold the number of new adult literates,
while Bangladesh and Pakistan will need to triple them.
With regard to gender equality
in education, the report finds a narrowing enrolment gap over
the past decade in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa.
But it adds that "while gender disparity is not a serious
concern in most of the Latin America/Caribbean and Eastern
Asia/Pacific countries, it remains one in many Arab States
(and) sub-Saharan African and Southern Asian countries".
In certain countries, like Lesotho and Namibia, the gender
gap actually favours girls, "a phenomenon that deserves
just as much attention as discrimination against girls",
the report notes.
African countries like Malawi,
Mauritania and Uganda have doubled enrolment to reach nearly
100 percent gross primary enrolment during this decade. Zambia
has reported a rise in its national literacy rate from 55
percent in 1990 to nearly 70 percent in 1996. The report warns,
however, that many countries are increasing enrolments at
the expense of the quality of education.
Sustained donor and national
support for EFA over the coming decade is needed, with estimates
ranging from $8 to $15 billion additional funding per year
over the coming 15 years in order to achieve universal primary
education alone. The highest estimate ($15 billion) represents
only 0.06 percent of the GNP of donor countries, or 0.3 percent
of the GNP of developing countries, the report points out.
Monitoring Report will serve as a basis for discussions
at the inaugural High-level Group meeting, which will bring
together 29 key decision makers including sixteen Ministers
of Education, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, Oxfam
Director Barbara Stocking, and ministers of international
co-operation from Canada, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom,
and the head of Japan's international co-operation agency.
Debate will centre on sustaining political commitment, mobilizing
financial resource and forging partnerships with civil society
The 32 countries at risk of
failing to reach the EFA goals by 2015 unless "serious
action is taken" are Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burkina
Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo,
Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana,
Haiti, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria,
Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, United
Republic of Tanzania, Yemen.
2001 Monitoring Report on Education for All (EFA) can
be consulted online: UNESCO's
EFA homepage / UNESCO's
Institute for Statistics
*This classification is mainly based on the trends in net
enrolment ratio (NER) over the past decade.
A country is considered as "at a risk" if:
1. Its net enrolment ratio (NER) for the latest year available
(around 1997-99) is less or equal to 60 percent;
2. Its NER has decreased significantly during the last decade;
3. Its gross enrolment ratio (of less than 100 percent) has
decreased significantly during the last decade.