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The findings > Thematic Studies> Demographic Challenges>Part 3
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3. A closer look at half of the world population
 
While it is useful to examine global trends at the level of world regions, policies are largely established at the national and sub-national level and cross-national aggregates can mask important variation between countries within a region. It is therefore also important to examine the development at the national level. This section examines the relationship between demographic patterns, trends in enrolment and investment in education focusing on the E-9 countries that, together, comprise more than half of the world population. The analysis is based on the 1999 provisional estimates and projections of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, which in turn are based on the population estimates and projections of the United Nations and on the enrolment figures provided from the countries to UNESCO. Questions that are addressed include:
 
How have the E-9 countries progressed towards universal primary education, i.e. increased enrolments and enrolment ratios, reducing the out-of-school population and increased investment in education?
 
What will be needed to fill the gap to achieve universal basic education until 2010 in terms of additional enrolments at the primary school age group level?
 
Of course, estimates of future enrolment ratios represent only a restricted vision of the future since they rest on the assumption that current rates of progress will prevail and do not account for the impact of intervening variables. Moreover, because of the weakness of much of the underlying data the scenarios depicted in the following pages indicate broad trends and should be used with caution..
 
In all E-9 countries the number of children of primary school age enrolled in school rose between 1990 and 1997. However countries varied in the amount of progress that was achieved.
 
Fig. 3.1: Change in number of children of primary school age in the population and enrolled between 1990 and 1997 (1990=100)
Source: Calculated from 1999 provisional estimates of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
In all countries examined the expansion of enrolment outpaced demographic growth
 
In all countries, the change in enrolments of children at the age of primary school between 1990 and 1997 exceeded the corresponding change in the number of children of primary school age in the population, thus indicating that educational progress outpaced demographic growth.
 
Some countries achieved or are close to achieving universal primary education.
 
Using the 1999 provisional estimates and projections of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the following charts present the changes in the number of primary school age children, the number of primary school age children enrolled and the number of out-of-school children by country, thus showing the extent to which universal primary education was or – according to the projections based on current trends – will be achieved between 1980 and 2010.
 
Fig. 3.2-3.10: Estimated number of children of primary school age in the population, enrolled and out-of-school, 1980-2010.
 
In China, the sharp decline of the primary school age population, which decreased by more than 30 million in just 10 years – together with a national effort to achieve universal primary education and enhance quality in that decade – meant every child was provided with a place in school by 1990. Between 1990 and 2000, primary school age enrolments followed the curve of the primary school age population, which rose by about 10 million children during this period, while it is projected to decrease by more than 15 million between 2000 and 2010, thus making it easier to ensure quality primary education for all children of primary school age.
Also in Indonesia, the growth in primary school age enrolments outpaced the growth of the primary school age population between 1980 and 1990. Although the right to education was affirmed in the Constitution of 1945, due to the lack of resources it was only in 1984 that compulsory education could be enforced. Practically all of the children of primary school age had the opportunity to participate in education during the 1980s and the aim is now to ensure a minimum of 9 years of schooling for all school age children. Challenges to be met against the constraints posed by the recent financial crisis include improving learning conditions and achievement and reducing dropouts.
 
In Brazil, 1990 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, was expected to result in the achievement of universal primary education by the year 2000. The persisting demographic decline at the beginning of the new century should leave room to invest resources on addressing the problems of drop-out and repetition, eliminating disparities in educational opportunities, enhancing quality and expanding access at higher levels of education.
In Mexico, universal primary education was already achieved by 1980, so that a moderate expansion of the number of children of primary school age should easily be covered by a corresponding expansion of enrolment. In the context of a general educational reform, the education’s budget rose by 86 per cent in real terms, between 1988 and 1993, leading, among other things to an increase in teachers’ salaries; a teacher re-training programme was implemented and a special programme to combat underachievement in basic education has been launched to improve education in poor areas. The year 2000 is expected to mark an inversion in the demographic trend of school population, allowing even more room for investing in educational quality and the reduction of disparities.
In Egypt, the growth in the number of enrolments outpaced the growth in the number of children of primary school age during the 1980s and 1990s and the number of children out-of-school declined by more than 80 per cent between 1980 and 2000. Problems to overcome included the shortage of school buildings and of classrooms equipment and supplies. The expansion of the primary school age population is expected to stop in 2000, which would facilitate the achievement of universal primary education during the first decade of the 21st century, along with current efforts to reform curricula, train teachers and eliminate the remaining gender disparities.
 
In other countries the expansion of primary enrolment was partially offset by the growth of the youth population.
 
In India, the National Policy on Education, adopted in 1986 and up-dated in 1992 gave highest priority to primary education, together with adult literacy programmes. As a consequence, primary enrolment rose but so did the primary school age population, (which increased until 2000 when it is estimated to stabilize), thus leading to only a slight decrease of the out-of-school population. The time that will be needed to achieve universal primary education will therefore largely depend on the efforts undertaken in the next decade to expand enrolments and reduce the out-of-school child population. Based on current trends, it is estimated that the number of enrolled children of primary school age 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 has posed a challenge to achieving universal primary education, which has offset the expansion of primary school age enrolments. In 1990 the number of enrolled children began to include the out-of-school children. The number of out-of-school children decreased steadily during the 1990s, while enrolments underwent a remarkable growth in this post-Jomtien decade. The National Education Policy issued in 1992 by the government, in fact, included the goals to universalise primary education by 2002 and improve quality by raising standards and status of teachers. However, unlike in India, it is expected that the primary school age population will continue to expand in the first decade of the 21st century, so that additional resources would serve mainly to keep abreast of population growth and the process of educational recovery would continue but 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. Policy measures aimed at expanding enrolment during the 1990s included the construction of new classrooms and a more effective exploitation of existing structures. The decline in the number of out-of-school children during the decade following Jomtien, however, seems to have been mainly due to the decline of the size of primary school age cohorts rather than to the creation of additional places in school. Based on the 1999 UNESCO projections, the number of primary school age enrolled children is expected 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 cohorts primary school age children. Thus, Bangladesh, as Pakistan, experiences difficulties in achieving universal primary education due to the growing number of children.
In Nigeria, population projections estimate that by 2010 there will be twice as many children of primary school age than in 1980, as there are no signs of a decline in demographic growth. Student demography thus seems to offset 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 looks like it will take many more years to find a place in school for the 20 per cent of the children of primary school age that are currently excluded from school.
 
 
In sum, three main patterns emerge from the analysis of the estimated and projected primary school age population and enrolment trends between 1980 and 2010 in the E-9 countries. In China, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and Egypt, the decline of the primary school age population seems to be accompanied by an increase of enrolments resulting in the achievement of universal primary education most likely at the latest by 2010 (or shortly after for Egypt). In such countries the challenge is thus 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 India, the decrease of the primary school age population expected for the period 2000–2010 is not predicted to be coupled any longer with an increase in primary enrolments so that the achievement of universal primary education looks still some way ahead, at some point after 2010. Finally, in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria, the expansion of primary school age enrolments seems to be partially offset by the persisting increase of primary school age cohorts.
The evidence presented thus far demonstrates that, in many countries, there has been significant educational progress since Jomtien. Some of the developing countries have met the target of universal primary education or come close to it, often in the context of favourable population dynamics. However, other countries still lag well behind the target.
 
Comparing current enrolment ratios against the projected school age population gives a rough estimate of the expansion required to reach UPE in the next decade
 
By comparing current enrolment ratios against the projected school age population, an estimate can be obtained of the expansion in enrolment that would be required in the next decade in order to achieve or approach universal primary education in those of the E-9 countries that have not yet reached this target in the year 2000. These countries are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Egypt.
 
Four benchmarks have been used, in order to quantify the work needed to meet the EFA target in terms of additional enrolled students:
 

An "ideal scenario" of universal enrolment for children of primary school age by 2010;

A scenario that depicts how much enrolment should grow if 90 per cent of the primary school age population is to be enrolled by 2010;

An "average scenario" that reflects a more modest strategy aimed at reaching the 2000 average level, using the 2000 average net enrolment ratios in the less developed regions (84.8 per cent) as the level of comparison;

A "current practice scenario" that depicts the growth in enrolment based on current enrolment trends.

 
These scenarios should not be considered as alternative estimates of future enrolment ratios in the examined countries, but rather as an attempt to quantify the efforts that are required in these countries in order to achieve different rates of primary school age enrolment at the end of the next decade.
 
The numbers obtained by comparing current net enrolment figures against the projection of the official school age population represent a simplification of the reality. In fact, these figures do not take into account the under-aged and especially the over-aged enrolled pupils (repeaters and late entrants), representing in some countries up to 30 per cent of total enrolment. This means that the actual current total enrolment is much larger than the primary school age enrolment. The total enrolment in 2010 will also be larger than the primary school age one. However, by comparing primary school age enrolment against the primary school age population, this extra-part of the enrolled population is excluded from both estimates and it is possible to obtain a more reliable picture of the required expansion in enrolment capacity at the country level.
 
The next chart (Figure 3.11) presents the percentage growth required under each of these four scenarios in the E-9 countries that have not yet attained universal primary education.
 
Source: Calculated from the 1999 provisional estimates and projections of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
 
Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh have to increase their enrolment by 32, 26 and 25 per cent respectively, in order to reach, by 2010, the current average net enrolment ratio in the less developed regions.
 
For each country, the bottom part of the bar illustrates the "average scenario", that is, the percentage change (2000=100) that is required to reach by 2010, the 2000 average net enrolment ratio in the less developed regions taken together (84.8 per cent). Based on the provisional 1999 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 2000 average net enrolment ratio in the less developed regions. These percentage increases correspond to enrolling five million more children of primary school age in Pakistan, some 3.8 million more in Nigeria and 2.7 million more in Bangladesh. India will need to enrol more than two million more children, while in Egypt the net enrolment ratio is already currently higher than the 2000 less developed regions average.
 
The line shows what percentage change is needed in each country in order to maintain its estimated current rate of progress, based on the provisional projections of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh would have to increase their primary school age enrolments by more than 25 per cent, compared to their level in 2000, whereas in Egypt, based on current enrolment and population trends, the primary school age enrolment ratio in 2010 is expected to exceed the 90 per cent benchmark.
 
In order to enrol 90 per cent of the primary school age population by 2010, India has to expand its current enrolment by about 9 per cent, while Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh have to increase enrolment by between 33 and 40 per cent.
 
The "90 per cent scenario" is represented by the middle part of the bars. In order to meet this target by 2010, India is required to increase its enrolment by about 9 per cent, enrolling some 8 million more children of primary school age. Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh will be required to expand their enrolment capacity by about 8 per cent more than the average scenario would imply, that is a percentage increase between 33 and 40 per cent with respect to the level reached in 2000. According to this scenario, Bangladesh would have to enrol more than 3.5 million additional children of primary school age in school between 2000 and 2010, Nigeria almost five million and Pakistan more than six million.
 
Finally, the "ideal universal enrolment scenario" represented by the top part of the bars implies a growth in enrolment ratios that ranges from 5 per cent in Egypt to 55 per cent in Pakistan. The percentage increases required to achieve universal primary education would correspond to enrolling about half a million more children of primary school age 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 in other developing countries.
 
The situation of the E-9 countries reflects that in other developing countries. The 1999 provisional projections of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics indicate that, in 2000, 32 of the 107 developing countries for which estimates were available are expected to have 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 (all but two in Sub-Saharan Africa) having less than half of the official age population enrolled in school. The projections for 2010 show an improvement, with one third of the countries falling into each group, but 36 countries are still expected to have less than 80 per cent of children of primary school age enrolled and 11 of these countries less than 50 per cent.
 
Huge efforts remain to be faced by some countries to expand enrolment, while other countries can now focus exclusively on enhancing quality.
The countries that have achieved or have nearly achieved universal enrolment can now concentrate on the quality and relevance of education. Those that have between 20 and 5 per cent out-of-school children should aim at closing the gap as soon as possible. The countries that have net enrolment ratios of below 80 per cent need to invest massive national resources, together with international support from donors and NGOs. In these countries, where a continuous growth of the school age population does not facilitate the task of expanding enrolment and providing all of the children with basic education at the prescribed age, a marked increase in enrolment ratios could be one of the driving forces contributing to the onset of a demographic transition.
 
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