Last month, Unesco released the sixth edition of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

A mid-term assessment of where the world stands on its commitment to provide basic education for all children, youth and adults by 2015. What education policies and programmes have been successful? What are the main challenges? How much aid is needed? Is aid being properly targeted?

“…The report regrets that national governments and donors have emphasized formal primary schooling at the expense of early childhood and adult literacy programmes. These programmes have a direct impact on achieving universal primary education and gender parity, and more broadly on poverty reduction. Children from the poorest backgrounds are those who stand to benefit most from early childhood care and education programmes. Despite measures in many countries to expand access to pre-primary education, participation levels remain below 20% in the Arab States and sub-Saharan Africa, and under 40% in South and West Asia on average.

Governments, the report finds, are also neglecting adult literacy: worldwide 774 million adults – nearly 1 in 5 – lack basic literacy skills. More than three-quarters live in only 15 countries. Women’s literacy in particular has a strong influence on a child’s education and health yet they still account for 64% of adults who are not literate worldwide. On current trends 72 out of 101 countries for which projections were calculated will not succeed in halving adult illiteracy rates by 2015.

External financing for basic education remains far short of the US$11 billion required annually to reach EFA in low-income countries. It is insufficiently targeted to countries of sub-Saharan Africa and to countries facing conditions of fragility. France, Germany, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom are the five largest donors to education but the first three allocate less than one-third of their education aid to the basic level. The report states that too many donors are putting excessive priority on post-secondary.

Most countries that have achieved EFA or are close to doing so are in North America and Europe but this category also includes Argentina, Brunei Darussalam, Bahrain, Mexico and the Republic of Korea. Norway tops the Education for All Development Index followed by United Kingdom, Slovenia, Sweden, the Republic of Korea and Italy.” [Press release]

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