Education is a right, not a privilege, and is central to ending poverty. A good education empowers individuals, contributes to greater economic growth, produces healthier populations, and builds more stable, equitable societies.
World leaders have repeatedly set international goals to achieve education for all. The most recent is the Global Goal “to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education” by 2030. Although the number of primary school age children out of school has fallen from 100 million to 59 million since 2000, most of this reduction was achieved before 2004 and progress is slowing.
While access to education has repeatedly been reaffirmed as a universal human right, it is still one denied to many children. Access to quality education is unequal both within and between countries, and most of the primary school age children that are out of school are in Africa.
It is frequently the most vulnerable and marginalised children who get left behind, such as girls, children with disabilities and those in countries suffering from conflict. The UN estimates that half of the primary-aged children out of school around the world are living in conflict-affected or fragile countries like Afghanistan or Somalia. Despite progress towards ‘gender parity’ in many countries, girls are still more likely than boys to be out of school – 31 million girls are out of primary school, and of these 17 million are expected never to enter school. Children with disabilities remain perhaps the most marginalised and invisible groups of all, with 90% of disabled children in Africa excluded from education.
Quality not just quantity
Many countries that have experienced a surge in primary school enrolment have not been able to sustain the quality of education by recruiting and training more teachers, expanding classrooms and buying materials. Of the countries we have data for in 2012, 24 had more than 40 primary school students for every teacher. As a result, education standards across the region remain low and many children leave primary school without basic literacy and mathematics skills. According to the 2012 UNESCO Global Monitoring Report, 250 million children who are in school are receiving such a poor quality education that they fail to learn the basics.
We’re working to….
- Political Will: We know how important education is – so it’s surprising how little sustained political leadership is invested in it. We’re working with UK and international policymakers and parliamentarians to change this, helping them to understand the need for investment in education, and the types of policies that achieve results.
- Policy change: We’re working to ensure education policies and programmes in both donor and developing countries are reaching the poorest and most marginalised individuals, families and communities so that no one is left behind.
- Resource Mobilisation: We’re working across the world to advocate for governments to increase financing for education. We call on donors to ensure that vital organisations like the Global Partnership for Education have the financing they need to carry out their life-changing work.