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UNESCO findings show much work ahead for global education goals

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10 April 2015 – On April 8, UNESCO published its Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges report, monitoring the progress on the EFA goals set in 2000. The report’s findings show limited progress on achieving the goals, with only a third of countries having attained the global education goals.

“The world has made tremendous progress towards Education for All. However, the agenda is far from finished,” says UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Key findings illustrate in what ways the agenda will have to be pressed forward.

The challenges today

Only 52% of countries have achieved universal primary enrolment in 2015, with a further 10% close to achieving it. However, this means that another 38% is far from achieving this most watched of goals.

Specifically, a lack of emphasis on the poor and marginalized is visible, as the poorest are five times less likely to finish primary education than the richest.

Significant challenges also lie ahead in terms of gender parity and equality, with only 48% of countries reaching this goal at secondary level.

“We need to see specific, well-funded strategies that prioritize the poorest, especially girls, improve the quality of learning and reduce the literacy gap so that education becomes meaningful and universal,” Ms Bokova emphasized.

Meanwhile, the report says that crucial areas have had less attention as a result of the focus on universal primary enrolment.

For example, adult literacy remains neglected, with illiteracy rates having fallen by only 23% since 2000, short of the 50% target. Even more so, this drop is mostly due to educated young people having grown up, rather than effective literacy policies.

Stories of success and post-2015

Nevertheless, despite these challenges, “the report also details many stories of success,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declares in a video message.

Mr Ban specifically refers to the 50 million more children in school today than there were in 1999.

He adds: “the number of children and adolescents out of school has been cut by almost a half”.

In light of shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda, Mr Ban emphasises the crucial lesson learnt from matching effective policy with resources and will.

For the new Agenda, UNESCO calls for specific education targets, relevant and realistic, as even the core goal of achieving universal primary education will remain out of reach in many countries without concerted efforts.

More information

For more information, you can download the report and associated materials here (password: Report_EFA2015), discover more about the Global Education First Initiative or watch the UN Secretary-General’s message below.


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