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Education for All: The Global Scoreboard

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The EFA 2000 Assessment, undertaken in more than 180 countries, reveals a mixed scorecard with positive gains registered on the one side and continuing obstacles on the other. The main trends are presented here.
CATCHING THEM YOUNG: Early Childhood Care and Education
Early childhood care and education has greatly expanded in Latin America, the Caribbean, eastern Asia and the Pacific. It has declined sharply in transition economies in central and eastern Europe and central Asia and remains at a very low level in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States and south and west Asia.
Globally, some 104 million children were enrolled in pre-primary establishments in 1998, a 5 per cent increase from a decade earlier.
Extremes in preschool enrolment figures range from close to 100 per cent coverage in Bermuda, Malaysia, Belgium and Sweden to 2 per cent or less in countries suffering from war and economic collapse.
Expansion in this field has been driven by community and non-governmental structures rather than by governments.
GETTING THEM INTO SCHOOL: Primary Education
The total number of children in primary school rose from 599 million in 1990 to 681 million in 1998. (Thirty years ago, the figure was 411 million.)
Since 1990, some 10 million more children go to school every year. This is nearly double the 1980-1990 average.
In general, enrolment increases match or exceed the population growth rates.
The positive trends in primary education mask disparity of access within many of the larger countries: people in poor, rural and remote communities as well as ethnic minorities register little or no progress.
In 1990, there were an estimated 127 million children out of school. In 1998, this figure fell to 113 million children (110 million in developing nations and three million in developed countries and countries in transition).
The gender gap in primary education has narrowed slightly except in Africa; 44 million more girls were attending school in 1998 than in 1990.
In developing countries, 78 per cent of girls are in school as opposed to almost 86 per cent of boys.
Some sixty per cent of out-of-school children are girls.
Quality has taken a back seat in education priorities as a result of the drive for universalizing primary education. However, countries are increasingly focusing on curriculum reform, teacher training, textbook revision and monitoring learning achievement.
In South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa, less than three out of four pupils reach Grade 5. In the least developed countries taken together, a little over half reach this level and many drop out after the first or second grade.
There can be no Education for All without teachers. Yet their status, salaries, conditions of service and training opportunities have seen little improvement in the past decade.
THE OVER-15s: Youth and Adults

The number of literate adults doubled from 1970 to 1998 from 1.5 billion to 3.3 billion. The overall adult literacy rate has risen to 85 per cent for men and 74 per cent for women.
Only 13 per cent of young adults (15-24 years olds) are illiterate worldwide.
Despite progress in actual numbers, illiteracy rates remain too high: at least 875 million adults remain illiterate, of which 63.8 per cent are women – exactly the same proportion as 10 years ago.
WHO PAYS? Financing Education
iGlobally, around 63 per cent of the cost of education is met by governments and 35 per cent comes from parents, communities, the private sector and non-govermental organisations. Only 2 per cent comes from overseas aid programmes.
Education budgets may have increased, but total national budgets increased at a faster rate. Rising inflation in many cases overtook increases in education budgets.
Dwindling overseas development aid has meant that although basic education receives a constant portion of 15 per cent, the total amount of aid to education has declined.
Multilateral commitments to education rose from $1 billion in 1990 to nearly $2 billion in 1994, falling back to $1,3 billion in 1998.
Conclusions
Basic education is a moving target. Most countries have chosen to restrict the definition to primary schooling and adult literacy, but in many others, it now encompasses not only early childhood care and education but also junior secondary schooling and even full secondary education.
Poverty is the most important single factor explaining failure or inability to meet target goals set by governments. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa present a much more serious challenge than world averages imply and require particular attention if Education for All is to be achieved.
Positive examples of best practice such as community learning centres have a proven track record in achieving Education for All. They should now be expanded to national scale. Percentages
Projections show that the growth rates of school-age populations will, in the medium term, outdistance the growth rates of government education budgets.
Education for All is achievable with strong political commitment. Bangladesh, Brazil, Mali, Morocco and Uganda are just some of the countries who have demonstrated this in the last ten years, especially in primary education.
E-9: Slower Population Growth Promotes Education

Ten years ago, the world’s nine high population countries (E-9) were burdened with high population growth rates and low literacy rates.

Today, by lowering population growth rates and raising literacy rates all nine countries – Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan – have managed to reverse the process, defying all predictions.

Together, the “nine giants” still account for half the world’s population and 70 per cent of its illiterates. But far from the widely predicted population explosion, the nine countries have in fact registered a significant fall in population. In Bangladesh, Brazil, China and India the decrease is particularly significant, because of the sheer size of their populations. China has become the first E-9 country to achieve a 0.90 population growth rate.

Apart from the all-important government commitment, without which no real change can happen, factors contributing to the fall in population have been the increasing number of literate women; better access of girls to primary education; active pro-health and family planning policies and improved sanitary conditions. Once again, education, particularly that of girls and women, has proven its effectiveness.

The E-9 countries have also made impressive progress in universal primary education (net enrolments) notably Bangladesh (19 points), Pakistan (16 points), Egypt (12 points) and Brazil (9 points).

Literacy in the E-9 countries has also been continuously on the rise since 1990. Of the nine countries, Bangladesh, China, India and Indonesia have made the most remarkable progress. It is no coincidence that the same countries also register the strongest decrease in population growth rates.