Global Campaign for Education: World off track to meet education goals, 72 million still out of school

Published: 11 December 2007

The world is far from achieving the education targets – gains in some countries have been marred by a lack of quality education, especially for girls, disabled children, child laborers and those living in rural and conflict areas and in other countries there has been no progress at all. In a report which grades 156 developing countries and 22 donor nations on their efforts in the last seven years to improve education, the Global Campaign for Education also says that 72 million children are still not attending primary school, 774 million adults are still illiterate and that 18 million teachers are needed by 2015 to achieve the Education for All and Millennium goals.

Global School Report grades 156 developing countries and 22 donor nations.

The world is far from achieving the education targets – gains in some countries have been marred by a lack of quality education, especially for girls, disabled children, child laborers and those living in rural and conflict areas and in other countries there has been no progress at all.

In a report which grades 156 developing countries and 22 donor nations on their efforts in the last seven years to improve education, the Global Campaign for Education also says that 72 million children are still not attending primary school, 774 million adults are still illiterate and that 18 million teachers are needed by 2015 to achieve the Education for All and Millennium goals.

Members of the Global Campaign on Education include Save the Children, Oxfam, the Global March Against Child Labor and the global education union, Education International.

Launched to mark the “halfway point” – between 2000 and 2015 – to meet the Education for All targets on education, the report looks at rich countries’ responses to meet those goals and points to broken promises across the board, from a lack of necessary funding to a lack of political will. The “Education for All” goals were agreed in 2000 by 164 governments to put a viable plan in place to end world illiteracy, ensure free primary education to all, improve quality and tackle gender disparities.

Read the No Excuses Report on the Global Campaign for Education website.

“We desperately need to end the global education crisis. Close to 1 billion people have never had access to education and 1 in 4 women lack basic literacy skills. And yet all of this can change. We know the world can afford it and that a combination of political will and resources can make education for everyone possible.  Yet due to governments’ current complacency, it will not be achieved within our children’s lifetime. It’s time for governments to respond to the demands of children and stop with their excuses,” said Kailash Satyarthi, President of the Global Campaign for Education.

The report, entitled ‘No Excuses’, grades from A to F all governments for their progress to date. Every head of state is graded, ranked and given ‘teachers comments’ on their education commitments on indicators including ‘growth in school enrolments’, ‘political will’ and ‘transparency’. 

Overall the report paints a picture of a global class with high potential that is currently hurtling towards failure and points out what individual governments need to do to turn around their scoring.

The School Report shows that the top five developing countries are Mauritius, Latvia, Uruguay, Hungary and Slovakia, where high levels of commitment have enabled high standards to be developed and maintained in the run-up to the 2015 deadline. The last five with grades of E to F are Haiti, Somalia, Guinea-Bissau, Micronesia and the Central African Republic.

The report notes that several developing countries have achieved a breakthrough in extending coverage of basic education in the last 18 years. Other than the top five these include Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Thailand. And there has been remarkable progress in enrolment since 2000 in some of the most difficult contexts where millions have flocked to school in countries such as Kenya, Cameroon, Botswana and Burundi as governments have lifted school fees in recent years.

The richest countries are also assessed but on their promise to provide adequate, long-term resources to reach the Education for All goals. While Norway and the Netherlands rank at the top, the G8 nations are the worst at giving promised funding for education, with the USA coming last of its “G8 class.” When ranked on the global table, the UK falls 5th, Canada 36th, France 91st, Germany 109th, Japan 124th, and Italy and the US close to the bottom of the global class at 146th.

“Poor countries are being let down by the failure of rich countries to deliver on their promises of finances, made back in 2000. It would cost the equivalent of just a few days G8 military expenditure to give every girl and boy in Africa the chance to go to school,” said Gorgui Sow, Global Campaign for Education Board Member, from Senegal.

The report clearly shows that the most vulnerable pay the price for lack of investments and policies to provide free education to all. A third of out of school children are disabled and in Africa only 10% of disabled children go to school. Young girls are also feeling the impact of the failure from their government to act where out of 113 countries, only 18 of them are on track to meet the gender Millennium goal by 2015. People in conflict-affected areas are equally disadvantaged with some of the lowest global performers including trouble-affected states like Somalia, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“Basic education should be achieved and provided to everyone, no matter what their race, sex or religious beliefs are. Each government must listen to their citizens and make available to them the adequate funding and good-quality education. They cannot afford not to. Our report shows that at current performance rates, close to a billion people won’t receive education in their lifetime – let alone in the next seven years as promised. Everyone knows what is at stake,” comments Nelida Céspedes, Global Campaign for Education Board Member, from Peru.

Contact Information

Alex Kent, GCE Communications Coordinator
alex@campaignforeducation.org,
tel +27 76 428 5390 or +27 11 447 4111

Louis Belanger, Oxfam Media Officer,
louis.belanger@oxfaminternational.org
tel: +1 202 496 1173, mob: +1 202 321 2967