The 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, released on 19 January, argues that the crisis could create a lost generation of children whose life chances will have been irreparably damaged by a failure to protect their right to education. The Report examines who these children are and why they are being left behind, and shows that the cost of providing Education for All is much higher than previously estimated. January 2010.
How can we address the issue of the information and knowledge society without first dealing with the fact that almost a sixth of the world's population remains illiterate, and thus excluded from the possibility of effectively participating in a knowledge-driven society? What good are the advantages afforded by the new ICTs for the more than 860 million who cannot read and write? How can we even attempt to narrow the digital divide -thereby combating the inequality that separates the information 'haves' from the 'have-nots'- if we continue to ignore that a large sector of the world's population is denied access to the most basic tool for communicating in modern society?
The eradication of illiteracy -a goal long proclaimed by the international community- had advanced significantly over the second half of the 20th century. Now, however, the trend towards improving literacy levels seems to be slowing down and many fear that past gains may even be lost as resources for education are cut down, with some countries alarmingly moving backwards from previously high rates of literacy. Even the more affluent societies are not free from illiteracy, as surveys show that as much as 25% of citizens in developed countries are affected by functional illiteracy -that is, they may have learned to read or write but have either lost these skills or are unable to use them to solve the most basic tasks.
UNESCO's first progress report since the 2000 World Education Forum reveals that more than 70 countries will not be able to attain the goals set at Dakar for 2015, which include acceptable primary schooling for all children, eliminating gender disparities in school, and cutting adult illiteracy by fifty percent. The most negative outlook is for the sub-Saharan African countries, but other critical countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Arab states and China. And those who are closer to reaching the targets will only be able to do so with significant foreign aid. All this in the face of declining bilateral and multilateral aid for education.
While poverty, war, natural disasters, political commotion, and the ensuing displacement of populations, all contribute to aggravate the situation of education, the most important factor in the equation -the key to effectively reducing illiteracy- is political will. Although basic education is a human right formally recognized over 50 years ago by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and despite repeated and solemn declarations of the universality of human rights, in reality education is still not globally acknowledged as a right, as it is denied to a large proportion of humanity. But the promotion of education should not be seen only in terms of advocating human rights. Education is a powerful tool for reducing poverty and inequality, improving health and social well-being, and laying the basis for sustained economic growth and democracy.
That is why education has been included as one of the eight objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, setting the year 2015 as the deadline for achieving full primary schooling for children everywhere. That is also why, in late 2001, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the United Nations Literacy Decade for the period 2003-2012, in line with the goal set by the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar for achieving sound primary education for all children everywhere by 2015. The basic aim of the decade is to extend literacy to those who are currently deprived of it. The goal is that the more than 861 million illiterate adults and 113 million children without schooling shall acquire and use literacy as a means for communicating at their local level and in the wider society. So far, literacy efforts have failed to solve the educational needs of the poorest and most marginalized populations. The Decade will thus focus on these sectors. The initiative's expected outcomes are to create locally sustainable literate environments where people will be able express themselves, engage in effective learning and written communication, and exchange knowledge with others, increasingly incorporating electronic media and information technologies to communicate, access and utilize the wealth of knowledge available.
Literacy is considered a plural concept, whose particular meanings are determined by the use it is given in specific settings. As such, the Decade will promote diverse forms of literacy towards covering a wide range of purposes, contexts, languages and modes of acquisition, ensuring that literacy is relevant and useful to people in their daily lives. The Decade will seek to effectively join governments and civil society in a sustained effort to face up to the literacy challenge. While it is an effort that involves the UN system as a whole, UNESCO has been entrusted with the task of coordinating the initiative, which is also framed by the Education for All goal of increasing literacy rates by 50% by the year 2015
and the Millennium Development Goals.
The information presented in this report is based on interviews with the affected populations, their community representatives and government officials in Guatemala, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. These specific case studies provide evidence of structural discrimination and a lack of access to education throughout the Americas. (PDF). April 2008.
After five years of negotiations, countries meeting at UN Headquarters in New York have agreed on a new treaty to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Article 24 refers to education with a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity ensuring an inclusive, education system at all levels, and life-long learning. September 2006.
This is a public access human rights resource, the only such site in the world devoted solely to the right to education. It was started by Katarina Tomasevski, the first ever Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, after her appointment in 1998.
Ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives, approved by world leaders at the September 2000 Millennium Summit. Goal and targets include attaining universal primary education and eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education.
This report provides global and regional assessments on the state of teachers and education quality. It explores the policy implications of bridging the gap between the two, especially in developing countries. April 2006.
Remarks delivered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a ceremony held on Thursday evening, 13 February, at the New York Public Library, to mark the launch of the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012).
The launch of the UN Literacy Decade was yet another in a series of international pledges to provide education to all. Time and again, in the past two decades, an atmosphere of urgency to achieve education goals has been created. And yet, each time, these pledges have met with very little commitment and action, claims the author.
In cooperation with a team of international correspondents from The Times Education Supplement in London, this second edition of UNESCO's new Courier is dedicated to the United Nations Literacy Decade and features several articles on a range of issues.
It is remarkable that for nearly every kind of human insecurity, education can have a preventive role, a constructive contribution to make. The first -and perhaps most basic issue- is that illiteracy and innumeracy are forms of insecurity in themselves. By Amartya Sen, 1998 Nobel laureate in Economics.
It is widely acknowledged that a significant proportion of children, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds and girls, either drop out of primary school or learn very little even if they attend school. The creation of 'backward and forward' linkages is essential to creating an environment where every child not only goes to school but benefits from it.
"Concerned about the lack of recognition on the importance of adult education by our governments, we offer this document as a basis for debate and discussion on how we could move from declarations to concrete actions" says the civil society report on adult education in Africa. (PDF). November 2008.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the most unequal region in the world with 71 million persons living in extreme poverty and a further 200 million in poverty, education is a fundamental tool for combating poverty and social exclusion says the final declaration of the Latin America and the Caribbean regional conference on adult education. September 2008.
Although governments worldwide signed up to a UN goal promising 50% reduction in illiteracy by 2015, they are investing scandalously little in programmes towards that goal. Literacy programmes receive a mere 1% of education budgets in many developing countries and equally suffers very low priority in aid budgets. A new research by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) challenges the oft-repeated excuses for denying adults the right to learn and provides evidence of what works in practice. December 2005 (pdf version).
Lifelong learning has been acknowledged as a need and a principle for education and learning systems worldwide. However,the learning needs of adults continue to be sidelined or ignored in recent international development initiatives and education policy recommendations for the South,including Education for All and the Millennium Goals. This new book illustrates the need and opportunities for governments,national societies and the international donor community to re-frame the North-South gap and to re-orient education and learning towards social transformation and human development. By Rosa María Torres, December 2004. Pdf format.
South African non-government organization working to deliver a wide range of adult basic education and training programs to educationally disadvantaged adults by way of adult education centers, teacher training, curriculum development and community outreach.
An approach to adult learning and social change, used by over 350 diverse organizations in more than 60 countries. See Resource section, featuring evaluation of experiences of the Reflect pilot projects.
877 million left behind
Millions of illiterate adults have no desire to read and write because they do not see the direct benefits. They think it will not change their lives. So why force literacy on people? Some argue that reading and writing are the second culmination of our humanity, after speech, and by failing to provide literacy, we deprive people of being fully human.
Country governments and international agencies still need to focus much more on the inclusive participation of disabled children, starting by recognising inclusive education as a right. (PDF). October 2007.
Political and military violence targeting educational systems is depriving a growing number of children of the right to education, according to "Education under Attack", a UNESCO report presented at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) High-Level Segment in Geneva, Switzerland on July 2007. (PDF document).
This tool identifies the right to education and actions that individuals and organizations can take to fulfill these rights, with a focus on refugees, returnees and internally displaced people. It has been developed for local, regional and international organizations that work with displaced communities. (PDF document). August 2006.
Education Action International defends the right to education in the belief that education is the key to unlocking potential for positive development. It works with people affected by conflict in their home countries and countries of refuge, through its two divisions: the Refugee Education & Training
Advisory Service (RETAS) and the International Division.
An independent, indigenous, non-political, non-governmental organization with a primary mission to provide education to poor disadvantaged and neglected orphans whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS and to help their families to overcome poverty and hopelessness in Uganda through helping them initiate sustainable income generating projects.
Crisis situations are nowadays a major concern and a structural reality in numerous Member States. Faced with the challenges generated by conflict with accompanying chronic instability, and refugee and displaced children, and by frequent natural disasters, UNESCO has been developing strategies and capacities to respond with efficiency to the concerned Member States in
A coalition of development NGOs and teachers' unions advocating education policy-related issues, the GCE became the node of NGO advocacy during the Dakar Forum. It promotes education as a basic human right, focusing particularly on children, women and all disadvantaged, deprived sections of society.
Education International and the European Parliament's Committee on Development and Cooperation have initiated a resolution which proposes doubling the EU-budget for primary education in developing countries, a resolution that can make a difference for millions of children.
The 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report argues that the crisis could create a lost generation of children whose life chances will have been irreparably damaged by a failure to protect their right to education. The Report examines who these children are and why they are being left behind, and shows that the cost of providing Education for All is much higher than previously estimated. January 2010.
Together, civil society organizations laid out a consensus position on how the UN Conference on Adult Education held in Brazil from 1st-4th December could move from rhetoric to coherent action. As a result of civil society action and support from many governments there were some significant gains. December 2009.
Invited by the Latin-American Campaign for the Right to Education, the UN special rapporteur on Right to Education, Vernor Muñoz, from Costa Rica, stood in São Paulo from 24 to 26 January. February 2008.
The emergence of the information society has opened up new possibilities in education but it has also exposed some basic deficiencies. While illiteracy is now almost negligible in the developed countries it is still only too prevalent in the poorest nations. The educational systems in the developing countries are in urgent need of greater public investment and contributions from the international community says the new Social Watch report 2006. September 2006.
Globally, the right to education is denied despite pretty United Nations' rhetoric on human rights mainstreaming and rights-based development. Its denial is epitomized in levying charges even in primary school, thus pricing it out of the reach of the poor. This report by Katarina Tomasevski, UN special rapporteur on the Right to Education from 1998-2004 summarizes the shortcomings of global educational promises and then examines how the right to education fares in 170 countries. (PDF document). August 2006.
In recent years, non-governmental organizations have established themselves as fully recognized partners in the Education for All movement. The latest issue of UNESCO’s Education Sector newsletter reports on how civil society involvement pushes the boundaries in education. (PDF document). July 2006.
On September 14, world leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York, in part to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000. One of the eight goals is to ensure that by 2015, every child attends and completes primary school. However, a recent survery by Human Rights Watch found that school fees and related education costs, the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, discrimination, violence and other obstacles keep an estimated 100 million children out of school, the majority of whom are girls. September 2005.
This report analyses if governments are delivering on their promises to provide free and quality basic education for all. Using the format of a ‘school report’, this publication ranks leaders of 14 developing countries in the Asia Pacific region as ‘class leaders’ or ‘poor performers’ based on their actions to provide basic education for all. (PDF format). June 2005.
Keeps information on world and regional conferences and forums on education. Includes links to multilateral and civil society actors, as well as the EFA Observatory. Regular monitoring of the state of education in the world is an essential part of the follow-up to Dakar. For this reason, UNESCO has created the EFA Observatory, in order to monitor and report on progress achieved in education on a national, regional and global level.
This report outlines the history of the EFA initiatives and their lack of progress toward stated goals. It presents criticisms of the Fast Track initiative and states that there has been little mobilization of support from civil society, and a lack of ownership of the initiatives on the part of governments and other authorities, additionally stating that teachers have been little consulted and involved (pdf format).
Establishes a new analytical tool, the Education Performance Index, to assess the rate of progress towards universal primary education, and skillfully disaggregates national statistical data to show regional variances in performance. (pdf format files)
The EFA partnership is a broad coalition of national governments, organizations such as UNESCO and the World Bank, civil society groups, and associations, is committed to reaching and sustaining the EFA goals through broad-based
partnerships within countries, and supported by co-operation with regional and international institutions.
At the spring 2002 meeting of the World Bank, the member countries launched the Education for All Fast Track Initiative and promised to provide increased and better coordinated aid to countries with credible strategies. While the Fast Track initiative has generated new incentives that are galvanizing action at the national level, the donor response is inadequate. (pdf format, 25 pages)
Despite much progress since 2000, millions of children, youth and adults still lack access to good quality education and the benefits it brings. This inequality of opportunity is undermining progress towards achieving Education for All by 2015.
Poor quality of education, the high cost of schooling and persisting high levels of adult illiteracy are undermining the chances of achieving education for all by 2015 says the new global monitoring report on education for all launched by UNESCO. December 2007.
Latin America and the Caribbean leads the developing world in the provision of pre-school education although improvement has been uneven, according to the annual Education for All Global Monitoring Report, published by UNESCO. The 2007 report focuses on early childhood care and education, the first of the goals approved by 164 countries at the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in 2000, which are to be fulfilled by 2015. October 2006.
Education is a fundamental human right, yet there is a massive gap between the language and practice of rights. The basic rights of millions of people are routinely violated, and the epicenter of this education rights violation is Africa.
Source: ActionAid. doc format, 9 pages.
According to the 2001 Census, 65 per cent of Indians are literate. And almost every child now has access to a school, with around 95 per cent of the rural population having a primary school within one kilometer of their home. But are socio-economic conditions preventing children from going to school? How many drop out within a year or two? And what is the quality of education available at these schools?
After over a decade of concern and investment in primary education, what have been the results and how much further does the region need to go before it has achieved a primary education of quality for all children? The paper reviews available data for four countries as well as for the region as a whole. (pdf format 26 pages)
This report aims to inform campaigning and advocacy work in the North and South on girls' education, highlighting the progress made in reducing gender gaps in education in the developing world and the size of the challenge that remains (pdf format).
The Partnership on Sustainable Strategies for Girls Education is an international, inter-agency group dedicated to improving educational opportunities for girls in the developing world, formed by the Department for International Development U.K., the World Bank, and the United Nations Children's Fund.
The Working Group on Non-Formal Education (WGNFE) works with African ministries of education, partner agencies, and NGOs to facilitate and strengthen the links and partnerships between all stakeholders in NFE. The Working Group also promotes communication and sharing of information on strategies for monitoring NFE in order to ensure its optimal contribution to national educational goals.
Representatives of 19 countries of the Asia-Pacific region reaffirm their commitment to achieve the goals of Education for All and call upon all EFA partners to recognize the pivotal role of non-formal education.
CLCs are defined as local educational institutions outside the formal education system, for villages or urban areas, usually set up and managed by local people to provide various learning opportunities for community development and improvement of people's quality of life.
This site provides an integrated platform of information that has been used in different literacy campaigns world-wide. It contains case studies on Brazil, Jamaica, Kosovo, Nicaragua, South Africa, Tanzania, India, Spain, Tunisia, Germany, Oman and Syria.
Eldis is a gateway to information on development issues, providing free and easy access to wide range of high quality online resources. Provides summaries and links to online documents and offers a directory of websites, databases, library catalogues and email discussion lists. Keeps information on many topics, including: gender and education, health and education, education reform, adult education, literacy, ICTs and education, education in emergencies and economics of education.
This web site is designed to give an overview of literacy and basic education issues and practices in an international context, offering ideas, discussions, and activities for teachers/practitioners, policymakers, or researchers to
enrich their thinking on literacy.
Jointly developed by the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO and UNESCO with the close collaboration of literacy, non-formal education and statistics experts from international organizations, government sectors and NGOs of the
Member States in the region.
Established in 1994 by UNESCO and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, with the mission of providing leadership in research, development, and training in the broad field of international literacy and development, with an emphasis on developing countries.
ACCU implements various regional literacy programs to promote literacy education and to contribute to achieving EFA in Asia and the Pacific, in cooperation with UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (PROAP), government agencies and NGOs in the Member States of UNESCO.