Education International
Education International

Latest UN figures show that universal education for all still a work in progress

published 18 July 2016 updated 26 July 2016

Despite the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, new data released by the Global Education Monitoring Report reveal the immense global challenge to get all children and youth into school.

Two hundred sixty-three million: according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, that is how many children and youth remain out of school. Alone the number is staggering, but broken down the latest information from the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR) paper, Leaving no one behind: How far on the wary to universal primary and secondary education, reveals the true challenges facing political leaders, policymakers and education unions and organisations.

Even though out-of-school rates decreased for primary, lower secondary and upper secondary between 2007-2014, as well as the overall number of children and youth not in school, the latest numbers provide little to celebrate. For example, in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa at least half of all youth are out of school. And of the 61 million out-of-school children, an astounding 34 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.

“These latest figures, although shocking in too many ways, prove that our work is far from complete,” said Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “We must make equity a priority, especially when it comes to gender disparity in education.” Van Leeuwen was referring to the fact that girls continue to be more likely excluded from education than boys.

School out of the question in armed conflict zones

The report also details that in 2014, regions in as many as 32 countries affected by armed conflict were home to 21.5 million, or 35 percent of the global total, of out-of-school children. Another 31 million adolescents were forced from lower and upper secondary because of violent conflict.

However, when it comes to refugee and internally displaced children and youth, the report was unable to pin down how many are out of school due to the unavailability of data.

In an effort to address many of these challenges and issues, Member States, UN agencies and other stakeholder groups are convening in New York from 11-20 July for the 2016 meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development.