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Unicef calls for an increase in education spending as new report reveals global crisis in learning

More than two-thirds of schoolchildren in low-income countries will not learn basic primary level skills in 2030 despite an ambitious goal to get every child in school and learning, according to a report launched today by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World notes that without an urgent increase in education investments by national governments, children in low-income countries will remain trapped in intergenerational cycles of poverty and be left without the skills and knowledge they need to contribute to their societies and economies when they reach adulthood.

“Every child, in every country, in every neighbourhood, in every household, has the right not only to a seat in a classroom, but to a quality education – starting in the early years of life, the single most important stage of brain development,” said Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We need to invest early, invest in quality, and invest inequity – or pay the price of a generation of children condemned to grow up without the knowledge and skills they need to reach their potential.”

The report shows that more than 1.5 billion adults will have no education beyond primary school in 2030. Unicef backs the recommendations made in the report and calls for an increase in national education expenditure from 3 per cent to 5 per cent to help address what could be a global education crisis.

Other key findings from the report:

  • Only half of primary-aged schoolchildren and little more than a quarter of secondary-aged schoolchildren in low- and middle-income countries are learning basic skills.
  • 330 million primary and secondary school students do not achieve even the most basic learning outcomes.
  • The crisis is growing as populations grow – there will be an estimated 1.4 billion school-age children in low- and middle-income countries by 2030.
  • Twice as many girls as boys will never start school.

"We face the civil rights struggle of our generation – the demand of young people for their right to education and the ticking time bomb of discontent that results from the betrayal of the hopes of half of an entire generation,” said Chair of the Education Commission and UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. “We cannot accept another year or decade like this. The Commission aims to unlock the biggest expansion of educational opportunity in modern history."

Notes to Editors:

A Financing Compact for the Learning Generation: 12 recommendations to get all children learning

I. Performance - Successful education systems put results front and center

  • Set standards, track progress and make information public
  • Invest in what delivers the best results
  • Cut waste

II. Innovation - Successful education systems develop new and creative approaches to achieving results

  • Strengthen and diversify the education workforce
  • Harness technology for teaching and learning
  • Improve partnerships with non-state actors

III. Inclusion - Successful education systems reach everyone, including the most disadvantaged and marginalized

  • Prioritise the poor and early years – progressive universalism
  • Invest across sectors to tackle the factors preventing learning

IV. Finance - Successful education systems require more and better investment

  • Mobilize more and better domestic resources for education
  • Increase the international financing of education and improve its effectiveness
  • Establish a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) investment mechanism for education
  • Ensure leadership and accountability for the Learning Generation

About The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity

The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (The Education Commission) is a major global initiative engaging world leaders, policy makers and researchers to develop a renewed and compelling investment case and financing pathway for achieving equal educational opportunity for children and young people.

This report is the culmination of a year-long analysis involving over 30 research institutions and consultations with 300 partners across 105 countries.

The report is available at: http://report.educationcommission.org    

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Unicef UK Press Office media@unicef.org.uk, 00 44 (0) 207 375 6030

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