About 250 million children globally are not learning basic skills, even though half of them have spent at least four years in school, a UN report has said.
The independent Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report entitled “Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All’’ put the annual cost of this failure around 129 billion dollars.
The report which was made available at the UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday noted that less than 75 per cent of primary school teachers were trained according to national standards.
It also added that some 57 million children were not in school at all.
The report said that some 125 million school children around the world were unable to read a single sentence, even after four years of attendance, describing the situation as a waste of 129 billion dollar a year.
It, however, called on governments to draft the best teachers to teach the most underprivileged if the goal of universal education was ever to be reached.
“This learning crisis has costs not only for the future ambitions of children, but also for the current finances of government,’’ it stressed.
The report proposed four strategies to provide the best teachers to reach all children with good quality education.
It also suggested that the selection of the right teachers to reflect the diversity of children and training teachers to support the weakest learners from the earliest grades.
Others are overcoming inequalities by allocating the best teachers to the most challenging parts of a country.
It also includes providing teachers with the right mix of government incentives to remain in the profession and ensure all children are learning, regardless of their circumstances.
“The policy changes have a cost. This is why we need to see a dramatic shift in funding.
“Basic education is currently under funded by 26 billion dollar a year while aid is continuing to decline.
“At this stage, governments simply cannot afford to reduce investment in education nor should donors step back from their funding promises.
“This calls for exploring new ways to fund urgent needs,’’ the report quoted the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, as saying.
The report also said that the world would miss the goal of full primary schooling for children, both boys and girls, everywhere by 2015.
It explained that the second of the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 was imperative to make education central to sustainable development agenda for the decades after 2015.
“As we advance towards 2015 and set a new agenda to follow, all governments must invest in education as an accelerator of inclusive development.
“This report’s evidence clearly shows that education provides sustainability to progress against all development goals.
“ Educate mothers, and you empower women and save children’s lives. Educate communities, and you transform societies and grow economies,” Bokova said.
The report noted that in 2011, around half of young children had access to pre-primary education, but that in sub-Saharan Africa the share was only 18 per cent.
It said that the number of children out of school was 57 million, adding that half of whom lived in conflict-affected countries.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, only 23 per cent of poor girls in rural areas were completing primary education by the end of the decade.
“If recent trends in the region continue, the richest boys will achieve universal primary completion in 2021, but the poorest girls will not catch up until 2086,’’ the report said.