Cuba rates the highest EFA Development Index in Latin America and the Caribbean

With public expenditure on education standing at 13 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Cuba has an Education For All Development Index (EDI) of 0.983, the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the 2013-2014 EFA Global Monitoring Report “Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all”.

Cuba will begin 2015 with a world class level of attainment in the six Education For All (EFA) goals, said Herman van Hooff, director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau of Culture for Latin America and the Caribbean at an event held in Havana to mark the launch of this year’s edition of the Global Monitoring Report - a publication that is seen as a benchmark for worldwide progress in the field.

The event, held on 5 February, 2014 in the Historic Centre of Cuba’s capital, saw Van Hooff presenting a summary of progress achieved and pending challenges in achieving these goals worldwide, stressing that despite the advances achieved during the past decade, 57 million children still receive no schooling (half of them living in conflict zones), and 774 million adults are illiterate. This represents a drop of barely 1% since 2000, so it is now clear that the EFA goals will not be achieved by the planned date of 2015.

The UNESCO bureau chief stated that education should take centre stage in the post-2015 development agenda that is now beginning to take shape, specifying that financing goals must be set so that countries assign at least 6% of their GDP to education, and to ensure that donors are accountable for their promises, so that no-one shall be left behind for lack of resources.
At the presentation of the 2013-2014 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO Havana Education Programme Offical Miguel Llivina further discussed the document’s core topic this year, which is also the sixth EFA goal: improving the quality of education for all.

Here, Llivina drew attention to a global crisis that is affecting the underprivileged more severely: in concrete terms, out of 650 million school-age children worldwide, 38% are not acquiring basic knowledge; and one quarter of those aged 15 to 24 in poor countries are unable to read a complete sentence.

As the Report states, teachers must be seen as a fundamental part of the solution to the global learning crisis, and in this regard four strategies are laid out: recruiting the best candidates from a wide range of backgrounds; training all teachers well, both before and during their careers; allocating teachers effectively by offering incentives to teach in disadvantaged areas; and retaining teachers through improved working conditions an career progression pathways. 

The Havana launch of the 2013-2014 EFA Global Monitoring Report was attended by the representatives of the country’s Ministry of Education, including Vice-Minister Rolando Forneiro; representatives of the  Cuban National UNESCO Commission (CNCU) including its Chairman, Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios; the rectors of a number of the city’s universities; members of the UNESCO associated schools and UNESCO Chairs on the island; and representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and colleagues from a wide range of UN agencies in the country.

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