Out of School children on the rise

UNESCO Report reveals progress slow down

Sub-Saharan Africa now accounts for half of all out- of-school children worldwide and has the highest rate of all regions, according to a report released recently by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Many young people around the world, especially the disadvantaged, are leaving school without the skills they need to thrive in society and find decent jobs. Besides, these education failures are jeopardizing equitable economic growth, social cohesion, and preventing many countries from reaping the potential benefits of their growing youth populations.
The 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, which will be launched on October 16, will examine how skills development programmes can be improved to boost young people’s opportunities for decent jobs and better lives.
But a separate paper jointly released by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, shows that progress in reducing the number of children out of school has stalled. This not only denies millions of children their right to education, but also jeopardizes wider development efforts.
The report also indicated that almost one in four (23%) primary school age children have either never attended school or left school without completing primary education, although, out-of- school figures in sub-Saharan Africa have declined far less than in other regions, from 38 million in 1990 to 31 million in 2010.
By contrast, South and West Asia have made great gains over the past two decades, reducing the number of out-of-school children by two-thirds from 39 million in 1990 to 13 million in 2010. In 2010, the out-of-school rate in South and West Asia was 8%.
The remaining regions also have significantly fewer children out of school: Arab States (5.0 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (2.7 million), North America and Western Europe (1.3 million), Central and Eastern Europe (0.9 million), and Central Asia (0.3 million). Typically, it is the marginalized, the poor, remote rural populations, those affected by conflict, and, ethnic, racial and linguistic minorities, that are denied an opportunity for schooling, as analyses in Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Reports underscore. Exclusion from education also threatens development progress more generally.
Out-of-school patterns vary across and within regions. In 2010, there were 19 countries with more than 500,000 out-of-school children. A number of these countries are in sub- Saharan Africa. Nigeria alone was home to 10.5 million out-of-school children – 3.6 million more than in 2000 – or 42% of its primary school age population. Ethiopia had 2.4 million children out of school, which represents 18% of the country’s primary school age population. While this number is high, Ethiopia has made considerable progress since 2000, when 6.3 million children (60% of the primary school age population) were out of school. Other countries with more than 500,000 out-of- school children in 2010 are in South and West Asia (Pakistan and India), East Asia and the Pacific (Philippines and Thailand), and the Arab States (Yemen).
Of the 61 million children who were out of school in 2010, 47% are expected to never enter school. A further 26% have attended but left school, and the remaining 27% are expected to enter school in the future.
The paper sets out five reasons why reversing this trend is urgent.
According to the latest data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), 61 million children of primary school age were out of school in 2010. The global out-of-school figure had been on a decline over the previous 15 years, falling from 105 million in 1990. Progress was greatest immediately after the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, when world leaders committed to achieve Education for All by 2015 In addition, efforts to improve educational access for girls have paid off. In 2010, girls accounted for 53% of out-of-school children, compared with 58% in 2000.
Despite overall positive signs, the decline in out- of-school figures has slowed down since 2005. Worryingly, the number of out-of-school children has remained at 61 million over the last three years. Much of this global stagnation is due to trends in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of children out of school has actually risen over the past three years, from 29 million in 2008 to 31 million in 2010.

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