A quarter of a billion children will not be in school in 2030 and many of those studying will receive a poor education unless there is a six-fold increase in aid, according to new estimates released by UNESCO.
The proportion of children and adolescents aged six to17 who are not in school globally will fall only slightly on current trends, from 18 per cent (265m) to 14 per cent (225m), it said. A large share of those who are studying will not achieve minimum proficiency in reading while standards in francophone Africa are projected to continue to decline.
The figures reveal the slow progress being made towards the UN’S Sustainable Development Goals. They have been shared with ministers of the G7 group of leading industrial countries at talks with Unesco in Paris in efforts to boost their investments ahead of a planned education summit in Biarritz at the end of August.
Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Unesco, told the Financial
Times: “We have to put education at the heart of development. We have to reinforce the level of investment — not only the quantity but also the quality of learning.”
The analysis highlighted that, of $4.7tn spent each year on education worldwide, $3tn, or 65 per cent, is spent in high- income countries. Just $22bn or 0.5 per cent is spent on the similar number of school children living in low-income countries.
Chart showing how fewer teachers in Sub-saharan Africa at primary and secondary level have received minimum training
Globally, $ 39bn a year was needed in low and lower middle income countries required to achieve universal education. Aid, which has been stagnant since the start of this decade, needed to increase by a factor of six, according to the analysis.
While most countries are making progress in increasing the proportion of students in school, it said there was far less consistency in improving results, with many pupils struggling to achieve basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Unesco said that an additional 60m teachers needed to be recruited worldwide. In sub-saharan Africa, the share of teachers with the minimum required training had fallen since the start of the millennium to just two-thirds of those in primary schools and half of those in the secondary sector.
Unesco has joined forces with the World Bank to develop a series of measures designed to assess learning, as well as track progress in tackling bureaucratic obstacles and policy barriers to improving education. It has also launched an international commission on education that will report in 18 months.
In low-income countries, just over half of upper secondary schools have electricity and basic drinking water, while only 37 per cent have access to the internet.
A separate Unesco analysis released last week showed sharp discrepancies in girls’ access to education. It argued that the absence of toilets and the dominance of men among headteachers were among the factors that limited higher participation rates among girls in schools.