New UNESCO data: Numbers out of school children stagnate while aid to basic education falls by six per cent in a year
New statistics released by UNESCO show that 57 million children were out of out of school in 2011; a drop of just two million from the year before*. Compounding this problem for children around the world is a new data analysis showing that aid to basic education has decreased for the first time since 2002.
The new figures were released before a high-level discussion in New York on 11 June in support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative. They highlight the need to tackle the twin crises in education – whether children get into school at all, and whether they learn once they are there.
“We are at a critical juncture,” said UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova. “The world must move beyond helping children enter school to also ensure that they actually learn the basics when they are there. Our twin challenge is to get every child in school by understanding and acting on the multiple causes of exclusion, and to ensure they learn with qualified teachers in healthy and safe environments. Now is not the time for aid donors to back out. Quite the reverse: to reach these children and our ambition to end the learning crisis, donors must renew their commitments so that no child is left out of school due to lack of resources, as they pledged at the turn of this century.”
The new figures on out-of-school children were released by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics. They show that countries in sub-Saharan Africa account for more than half of all out-of-school children and have the highest out-of-school rate. More than 20 per cent of African children have never attended primary school or have left school without completing primary education. By contrast, countries in South and West Asia have made considerable gains over the past two decades, reducing the number of out-of-school children by two-thirds from 38 million in 1999 to 12 million in 2011.
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