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The findings > Demographic Transition and Education
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Objectives of this paper

 The 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien reaffirmed the commitment of countries to meet basic learning needs of all children, youths and adults. Specific goals, in the light of which countries agreed to establish national targets, included universal access to and completion of basic education by the year 2000 and the reduction of adult illiteracy, with specific emphasis on eliminating gender disparities in educational opportunities. However, problems of economic stagnation, continued population growth and economic and social disparities both among and within nations have posed various challenges to making this a reality.

 A decade has passed since Jomtien. What progress has been accomplished towards the goal of education for all? Is it possible to quantify the impact of demography on public policy, particularly on education? To what extent did policies directed towards universal access to primary education, the elimination of gender gaps and increasing net primary school enrolment ratios succeed in overcoming the challenges of population dynamics and resource constraints? Which policies have been the most effective and what can countries learn from the experience of others?
  This paper examines what has been accomplished and what remains to be done, first from a global perspective and then with a focus on the less developed regions where the demographic transition is still underway and where universal basic education is still far from reality. Changes in enrolment ratios, literacy rates, gender disparities, public investment in education, as well as shortages in educational provision and inadequate conditions of learning are considered against the backdrop of demographic changes. Regional figures, however, hide considerable variations within regions and even within countries, masking important differences in policies. In order to detect these variations, the situation of individual countries is presented for some specific issues. The relative success of national policies in meeting EFA goals is also examined through a comparison of the E-9 countries that together account for more than half of the world's population (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan).

  Specifically, the paper:

 Describes population growth at the world and regional level and summarises the recent international debate on population, development and education with a focus on the impact of education on population dynamics;

 Examines the impact of demographic growth on the achievement of education for all in the less developed regions of the world, outlining different policy approaches adopted in pursuing the goal of education for all against the demographic pressure;

 Quantifies how E-9 countries have progressed towards universal primary education and the effort needed to fill the remaining gap by 2010 in terms of additional students to enrol, using different enrolment benchmarks;

 Highlights some of the challenges ahead and the main priorities for action towards the achievement of education for all from the perspective of population and sustainable development.

The world population has grown rapidly…
  During the last forty years, the world population doubled, leading to a figure of six billion in 1999. By the middle of the next century, the world population is projected to grow further to between 7.3 and 10.7 billion, with 8.9 billion considered the most likely estimate. About half of the world's citizens are currently under the age of 24.
  While fertility declined in all regions of the world, except Sub-Saharan Africa, from a global total of over 5 births per woman in 1950 to an estimated 2.7 births at present, the young age structure of the world population still implies a growth of 78 million per year. Another 30-40 years will have to pass, according to the scenario based on medium fertility assumptions, before the annual population increment falls back to the size of 1950.
  Even more significant than the rate of growth or the magnitude of the numbers involved, is the fact that ninety-seven per cent of the world population increase occurs in the less developed regions of the world. Every year the population of Asia is increasing by 50 million, the population of Africa by 17 million and that of Latin America and the Caribbean by nearly 8 million .
… but so has the world economy

 Demographic growth must not be seen in isolation. In general, it is where population growth outpaces economic growth, and thus Gross National Product (GNP) per capita declines, and where population growth reinforces social and economic disparities that pressure on economic stability and social cohesion may occur.

 Economic growth and wealth creation in the last century have both been spectacular. While over the three centuries from 1500 to 1820, world GDP roughly tripled, during the 170 years after 1820 it increased more than 40-fold. Against this background, the world population growth seems modest . However, there has been much less success in distributing wealth than in creating it - not just across countries but also within them, creating new imbalances and further problems to be faced.
There is no general pattern in the relationship between population and development…
 Whether rapid population growth influences the pace of economic development, or indeed whether it is the pace of economic development that influences the rate of population growth, is a question that continues to attract the attention of the scientific and popular debate. For many years, empirical studies have failed to find evidence of strong or consistent relationships, either positive or negative, between demographic change and subsequent economic growth. Causal links and interrelationships between population and development are complex and as they also differ between countries it is difficult to identify general patterns. Furthermore, the level of economic development that a country achieved prior to the onset of rapid population growth has an impact on the consequences of that growth: in general, the more advanced the level of development, the less the impact of population growth .
…although in developing countries slower population growth seems to be beneficial to economic development
 Analytical and empirical findings seem to support the conclusion that on balance, slower population growth would be beneficial to economic development for most developing countries. Moreover, recent analyses, based on data since the end of the 1970s, have revealed fairly large negative associations between rapid population growth and growth rates of per capita output . Lately, the predominant view is that slower rates of population growth can buy more time to adjust and can increase countries' ability to attack poverty, protect and repair the environment and build the base for future sustainable development ..
How do demographic and economic trends interact in different countries?

  It is instructive to examine the way in which demographic and economic trends developed and interacted in different countries. In general, in countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria, where fertility rates remain high, economic growth and wealth per capita cannot afford the annual expansion of the population at its current level. Conversely, countries such as China, Indonesia, Brazil, and Egypt, where the population is growing at slower rates and the demographic transition is underway, benefit from increasing rates of economic growth and present an increased wealth per capita. Although any conclusion is preliminary, the evidence presented seems to shows, for the E-9 countries, a negative association between rapid population growth and growth rates of per capita output.

Rising levels of education play an important role in accelerating the pace of the transition
 Concern with rapid population growth has led researchers and policymakers to examine the determinants of fertility change. In particular, increased participation of women in education has proved to have an important impact on reducing maternal, infant and child mortality, to be consistently associated with lower fertility and to contribute to gender equality . The Jomtien conference as well as most of the education and development conferences held in the 1990s underlined the centrality of education, recognizing its role and benefits in combating poverty, empowering women, promoting human rights and democracy, protecting the environment and controlling population growth. In this perspective, education has been conceptualised as a fundamental right of all human beings and a goal in itself on the one hand, and as an essential means of action for pursuing development objectives in the perspective of sustainability on the other .
 If education is to provide, in the longer term, part of the policy response to population growth and other societal problems, in the short term the pressure of population growth on education systems remains the dominant issue in the developing countries.
   Achieving universal basic education can represent very different challenges for different countries, depending on the national human and financial resources that can be mobilised as well as the rate of population growth and the age structure of the population.
In many parts of the developing world educational progress has been substantial…
 In many parts of the developing world educational progress has been substantial over the 27-year period between 1970 and 1997. Estimated adult literacy rates in the world rose from 63 to 78 per cent during this period. World total enrolment at the primary level increased from 411 million in 1970 to 542 million in 1980, and to 668 million in 1997. This growth took place exclusively in the developing world in which enrolment increased from 313 million in 1970 to 579 million in 1997 .
…with primary enrolment now growing at almost double the pace than before Jomtien…
 Between 1990 and 1997, that is since Jomtien, primary education enrolment in all developing countries taken together grew by about 72 million pupils - at almost double the pace than that observed during the 1980s. Net enrolment ratios also reflected a positive development, showing that growth in enrolment outpaced the growth of the primary school age population.
   The number of out-of-school children of the official primary school age group was 95 million in 1990 and was expected to decline further to 88 million in 2000 and 79 million in 2010 . In particular the number of out-of-school children decreased in Eastern Asia and Oceania and to a lesser extent in Latin America and the Caribbean.
…but in some regions, a growing minority continues to be left out
 Conversely, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States and somewhat less in Southern Asia the achievement of universal primary education has been hindered by the growth and age-structure of populations. Efforts to increase primary enrolment ratios have had to work against a rapidly growing population. Thus, despite significant growth in enrolment, the number of out-of-school children did not decline correspondingly.
Different policy strategies have adopted in order to expand access to schooling
  Many countries in all of the less developed regions organised national policy meetings on Education for All in the early 1990s and several of them adopted EFA policies and plans. Policy strategies aimed at favouring the expansion of access to schooling included a movement of decentralisation of the management of education institutions as well as, in some cases, of curricula; the building of new partnerships and a more marked involvement of the community; the introduction of instruction in the mother tongue; the diversification of schooling and the promotion of programmes for drop-out children; the sensitisation of parents to the value of education; and the institution of free primary education.
Primary education will no longer suffice to meet demands of tomorrow's societies…
  If the completion of primary education enables people to take care of their own and their family's hygiene, nutrition and health, further education is required in order to participate effectively in today's knowledge-based economies and societies. The number of enrolled young people of secondary school- age grew by about 83 million throughout the world between 1990 and 1997, of which 74 million were in developing countries. Positive trends in net enrolment ratios during the 1990s confirm that, in general, enrolment of secondary school age youth grew faster than the relevant age population. In some countries, however, more than half of the pupils of secondary school age were enrolled in primary school, as repeaters or late entrants.
… although in the less developed regions it still represent the only educational opportunity for the majority
  Overall the proportion of the official school age population actually enrolled in secondary education continues to be low. In the year 2000 it was estimated to be higher than 50 per cent only in Eastern Asia and Oceania (55 per cent) and the Arab States (51 per cent). In Latin America and the Caribbean and in Southern Asia only 44 and 43 per cent respectively, of the official school age population were enrolled in secondary school. In Sub-Saharan Africa their proportion did not reach one quarter of the population (24 per cent) and in the least developed countries taken together, it amounted to only 18 per cent. Primary education remains therefore the only educational opportunity for more than 80 per cent of the school age population in the least developed countries, for more than 75 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, and for 45 to 57 per cent in the other developing regions. It is therefore crucial that primary education be able to answer the basic learning needs of tomorrow's adults.
Illiteracy declined in developing regions, but not at the desired pace…
  Levels of literacy within a population are an indicator of the human potential that can promote the social, economic and cultural development of a country and many studies have confirmed that throughout the world the best predictor of the learning achievement of children is the education and literacy level of their parents.
  The estimated number of literate adults aged 15 years and over went from 2.7 billion people in 1990 to 3.4 billion in 2000, that is, from 75 to 79 per cent of the world's adult population. If illiteracy rates decreased in all of the less developed regions, this decline did not progress at the desired pace and efforts of governments had to work against the obstacle of an ever increasing population. In the least developed countries taken together, one adult in two is still illiterate, that is, lacks the basic reading, writing and numeracy skills essential to develop and function at both the individual and societal level. In the year 2000, among the less developed regions, the problem of illiteracy seems to be particularly serious in Southern Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States, with estimated percentages of illiterates of 46, 40 and 39 per cent respectively.
…and gender disparities in access to educational opportunities are still large
  The mid-decade meeting of the Forum on Education for All held in Amman in 1996 judged insufficient the progress achieved in closing the gender gap during the 1990s and reaffirmed the education of girls and women as "the priority of priorities". The share of girls in the primary school age out-of-school population decreased only by one percentage point during the 1990s, from 60 to 59 percent. In the least developed countries considered alone, the proportion of primary school age out-of-school girls increased even, from 54 to 56 per cent. At the regional level, the disparities were more pronounced in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where female enrolment ratios would have to increase by 12 and 9 percentage points, respectively, in order to attain gender equality. The regional averages however, hide marked differences across countries. For example, in the African region south of the Sahara, countries where the enrolment of girls is some 25 percentage points lower than that of boys, such as Benin and Chad, co-exist with countries where the gender gap penalises boys, such as Botswana and Lesotho.
  Similarly, women's access to educational resources remains inadequate in a large part of the developing world. It was estimated that in 1990 there were 322 million illiterate men and 560 million illiterate women (i.e. over 30 per cent of the adult female population) in the world. In 2000, the percentage of illiterate women was estimated to be 26.4, and the gender gap will have decreased slightly (from 13.3 percentage points in 1990 to 11.7 in 2000).
  The educational disadvantage of women is only one aspect of the discrimination from which they suffer in many countries where women are the poorest of the poor. In order to succeed in closing the gender gap in educational opportunities, against the obstacles posed by poverty and demographic pressure, priorities and commitment of governments would have to be directed at overcoming this tendency to devalue women that is the heart of the problem. This implies not only using all means to improve access to and participation of girls and women in education but also conveying through the contents and methods of that education the value of women and an egalitarian view of human beings.
Progress in expanding enrolment has not always been matched by increases in the quality of educational provision as it can be seen from survival rates to Grade 5…
  What matters, ultimately, is not just the volume of participation in education but more importantly - and as stressed in the World Declaration on Education for All - what people actually learn as a result of participating in education. This, in turn, depends on the quality of education. One indicator of quality that is often used is the percentage of a pupil cohort reaching Grade 5. In general, the school experience of many children in the developing world is relatively brief and unsatisfactory. In Southern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that less than three out of four pupils reach Grade 5. In the least developed countries taken together, only half of the pupils reach this grade level. Indeed, many students drop out between the first and the second grade, having acquired not even the most basic elements of an education. This probably reflects both the poverty of these children and their families and the inability of schools to respond adequately to their needs.
… the conditions of school equipment and supplies…
  Many experts have expressed concern over the conditions of learning in over-crowded schools of the developing world, and their impact upon achievement. Based on the responses of school-heads in a pilot survey of conditions of learning in the least developed countries conducted in 1995, it appeared that between the Jomtien conference and 1995, the volume of school equipment and supplies had either remained constant or decreased, which means that, given the general increase in enrolments, the conditions of primary schools had deteriorated overall.
… pupil-teacher ratios…
  The expansion of enrolment during the first EFA decade made the chronic shortage of qualified teachers more critical. In the less developed regions taken together pupil-teacher ratios were twice as large as those in the more developed ones, while in the least developed countries they were three times as large. A high pupil-teacher ratio can initially be one means for keeping costs low while expanding enrolment. However, high pupil-teacher ratios combined with inadequate instructional equipment and low teacher motivation cannot contribute to learning.
… as well as from investment and spending patterns in education…
  Investment in education is a key determinant of the scope, quality and impact of education in a country. Expenditure on education can be used as an indicator to assess the implementation of EFA targets. While public current expenditure rose in all developing regions except in Southern Asia, enrolments also increased. The result was that the additional investment did not always lead to an increase in resources available per pupil. In fact, at the pre-primary and primary level the public current expenditure per pupil as a percentage of GNP per capita decreased in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern Asia. Thus, in these two regions it seems that a trade-off was made after Jomtien to enrol more students at a lower cost. On the other hand, in Latin America and Eastern Asia and Oceania, despite the expansion of the enrolled school age population, the expenditure per student also increased.
  Among the policy measures common to various countries that have achieved universal primary education early in their development process is the allocation of a higher expenditure per pupil as a percentage of GNP per capita into primary education and a lower one into higher education compared with other countries in the same regions .
  One of the necessary responses to the problems of the scarcity of resources is a clear commitment to giving high macro-economic priority to education, together with health and other basic social services, re-examining - according to the suggestion of the Jomtien Declaration and Framework for Action and the successful examples of countries which can be considered as high-achievers - spending patterns and unit costs at the different levels of the education system in order to allocate higher shares of education budgets to basic education.
  In all E-9 countries, the number of enrolled primary school age children rose between 1990 and 1997 and the increase exceeded the corresponding change in the number of primary school age children in the population, thus indicating that educational progress outpaced demographic growth. Countries, however, varied in their pace of change. The following analysis is based on the 1999 provisional estimates and projections of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. However, given the weakness in many of the data on which estimates and projections are based, the results should be interpreted as broad trends and used with caution.
Some countries achieved or are close to achieve universal primary education…
  In China, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and Egypt, the increase of primary school age enrolments, representing a main goal of national policies, accompanied by a decline of the primary school age population implies that universal primary education will be achieved by 2010 (or shortly after in the case of Egypt). In China, the sharp decline of the primary school age population, which decreased by more than 30 million pupils in just 10 years, was one of the factors that permitted the provision of a place in school to every child by 1990. In Indonesia, the growth in primary school age enrolments outpaced the growth of the primary school age population between 1980 and 1990 and practically all primary school age children had the opportunity to participate in education at some point during the 1980s. In Brazil, the 1990s marked the turning point in the growth of their primary school-age population. The decrease in the number of children, coupled with a policy aimed at increasing enrolment ratios in primary school is predicted to result in the achievement of universal primary education by the year 2000. In Mexico, universal primary education was already achieved by 1980, so that a moderate expansion of the number of primary school age children during the 1990s was easily covered by a corresponding expansion of enrolment. In Egypt, the growth in the number of enrolments outpaced the growth in the number of primary school age children during the 1980s and 1990s, and it is estimated that the number of out-of-school children declined by more than 80 per cent between 1980 and 2000. The expansion of the primary school age population is projected to stop in 2000, which will facilitate the achievement of universal primary education during the first decade of the 21st century.
…while the challenge remains to improve learning conditions and achievement
  In such countries the challenge is now to improve learning conditions and achievement, increase the internal efficiency of education systems, reduce school disparities in educational outcomes, and expand participation in education beyond primary school.
…while the challenge remains to improve learning conditions and achievement
  In such countries the challenge is now to improve learning conditions and achievement, increase the internal efficiency of education systems, reduce school disparities in educational outcomes, and expand participation in education beyond primary school.
In other countries, the expansion of primary enrolment was partially offset by the growth of the youth population
  In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria the expansion of primary school age enrolments supported by national policies was partially offset by the increase of the primary school age population so that, based on current trends, the achievement of universal primary education lies in the future, at some point after 2010. In India, primary school age enrolments rose but so did the primary school age population, which increased up to 2000 when it is projected to stabilize, thus leading to only a slight decrease of the out-of-school population. Based on the trends obtained from available statistics, it is predicted that the number of enrolled primary school age children will not change significantly during the first decade of the 21st century, with the result that 20 million children could still be out-of-school in the year 2010. In Pakistan, as in India, rapid population growth remains a challenge to achieving universal primary education, countering as it does a continuing expansion of primary school age enrolments. The number of out-of-school children decreased steadily during the 1990s, while enrolment underwent a remarkable growth in this post-Jomtien decade. However, unlike in India, the primary school age population is expected to continue expanding in the first decade of the 21st century, so that additional resources will serve mainly to keep abreast of population growth, and the process of educational recovery will proceed at a slow pace. In Bangladesh, some progress was made during the 1990s in increasing primary school age enrolment ratios, after primary education was made compulsory in 1993. However, the number of primary school age enrolled children is predicted to increase by 3 million, between 2000 and 2010, while the number of out-of-school children is expected to decrease by just 1 million during the same period, due to a new expansion of the primary school age children cohorts. Finally, in Nigeria, by 2010 there will be twice as many primary school age children than in 1980, as there are no signs of a decline in demographic growth. Student demography thus offsets the considerable efforts made to increase the number of enrolled children, which are particularly evident after 1990. Without an inversion of this demographic trend it will take many more years to find a place in school for the 20 per cent of primary school age children that are currently excluded from it.
Four benchmarks are used to quantify the gap to achieving universal primary education
  In order to quantify the efforts needed in the E-9 countries that have not yet enrolled all of their primary school age children, four benchmarks have been used in this paper: universal enrolment, net enrolment ratios of 90 per cent, the net enrolment ratio in less developed regions in 2000 (84.8 per cent), and a scenario in which the current rates of progress will prevail.
  Based on the 1999 provisional estimates and projections of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh will be required to increase their enrolment by 32 per cent, 26 per cent and 25 per cent respectively, if they are to reach by 2010 the estimated net enrolment ratio of the less developed regions in the year 2000. These percentage increases correspond to enrolling 5 million more primary school age children in Pakistan, 3.8 million more in Nigeria and 2.7 million more in Bangladesh. India will need to enrol more than 2 million additional children, while in Egypt the net enrolment ratio is already currently higher than the 2000 average.
  In order to achieve 90 per cent net enrolment ratios by 2010, India will be required to increase its enrolment by about 9 per cent, enrolling 8 million additional primary school age children. Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh are required to expand their enrolments by between 33 and 40 per cent, with respect to the level each country had reached in the year 2000.
  Finally, the ideal universal enrolment scenario implies a growth in enrolment ratios that is estimated to range from 5 per cent in Egypt to 55 per cent in Pakistan, with respect to the current situation of each country. The percentage increases required to achieve universal primary education correspond to enrolling almost half a million primary school age children more than in 2000 in Egypt, 5 million more in Bangladesh, 7 million more in Nigeria, almost 9 million more in Pakistan and 19 million more in India. Based on these figures, the universal enrolment scenario seems to be difficult to reach for these countries by 2010, unless major efforts are made and additional resources are mobilised to increase the rate of educational progress.
  The situation of the E-9 countries reflects that of the other developing countries. In 2000, 32 of the 107 developing countries for which estimates were available had achieved net enrolment ratios of more than 95 per cent, another 28 between 80 and 95 per cent, while 47 countries were below the 80 per cent mark, with 15 countries having less than half of the official primary school age population enrolled in school.
  It is important to acknowledge the efforts that have been made during these ten years by many national governments, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and NGOs, as well as individuals, including local policy makers, teachers and parents. Thanks to these efforts, the targets seem more easily attainable today than ten years ago. Recognising such progress however, should not lead to a slowing down of the pace of the educational recovery, since the achievement of education for all still lies ahead
Enrolment target should be harmonised with the attainment of sufficient quality standards
  In order to enable all countries to achieve universal primary education without sacrificing the quality of the teaching/learning experience, countries starting from different points of departure may have to establish different intermediate national targets, combining the common urge with realistic timeframes. In order to harmonise quantity, that is the expansion of enrolment, with quality, that is achievement, the minimum sufficient standards to be attained need to be defined, measured and guaranteed, while progressively expanding enrolment.
Reliable and timely data on learning outcomes are needed
  More research is needed on learning achievement, in order to be able to assess, monitor and guide the progress towards the universal acquisition of basic literacy and numeracy skills, as well as "life skills". Efforts and progresses have been made in this direction. At least 50 nations carry out national assessments of learning achievement (International Consultative Forum on Education for All, forthcoming). The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) has carried out numerous international assessments over the last 40 years . Although some developing countries participated in these study, however, it was mainly developed countries that were involved. Conversely, in recent years, a number of international assessment projects have been undertaken with the aim of involving developing countries, proving also for them both the feasibility and utility of this type of exercise .
The remaining gaps should be targeted sharing successful initiatives and policies
  Renewed efforts will be required to reach the child population that is still out-of-school, bearing in mind that progress may now require larger efforts than those required previously, given that those that are not in school yet are likely to be the most difficult to reach for different reasons.
  Although much has been done to promote the participation of girls and women in education, innovative experiences have to be shared and multiplied in order to overcome continued discrimination against girls and women and fully address gender issues.
  Also in the area of adolescents' and adults' literacy and education, countries could benefit from an exchange of information and experiences involving intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, associations and private partners.
Macro-economic priority should reflect the importance of primary education
  Funding schemes should reflect the highest priority of primary education given that in the developing world this represents the only educational opportunity for a share of the child population that ranges from 45 to 80 per cent depending on the region and that it has proved to have a powerful impact on health care, reproductive and social behaviours which are at the core of sustainable development.
The spirit and goal of education for all should be shared by the whole society
  Schooling risks to fail its mission if it educates according to values and visions that are not supported, shared and conveyed by the society as a whole. Reforming education implies therefore a parallel process at the societal level with the aim of constantly instilling the vision of education for all and its goals into the minds of the world's societies.
International cooperation should mark a shift from a global world towards a more united one
  Education for all represents a challenge for all regions of the world, with the poorest and most populous countries requiring particular attention and support also by the international community. Agreeing that education for all calls out for a response from the "world as a whole" means going beyond the simple acknowledgement that we live in a global world. "Global" does not necessarily means safe, good for everyone, or harmonic. It simply points at the interdependence among the parts so that what happens in one part of the globe may have repercussions on what happens in several other parts.
  Globalisation, however, provides the opportunity to direct the chain of interdependent actions and reactions towards progress for all human beings. The responsible and ethical management of globalisation may contribute to a more co-operative and united world.
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