PARIS, France — In 2000, leaders from 164 governments met at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal to create a comprehensive agenda for improving global education. Their plan, called the “Dakar Framework for Action, Education For All: Meeting our Collective Commitments” launched an ambitious education agenda for the following fifteen years.
Now an Education for All Global Monitoring Report published by UNESCO, shows both the progress made and steps still needed to be taken. “There has been tremendous progress across the world since 2000 – but we are not there yet,” the report states. “Despite all efforts by governments, civil society and the international community, the world has not achieved Education for All.”
Some high notes of progress made in global education efforts from 2000 to 2015 include:
- In 2012, 184 million children were enrolled in pre-primary education worldwide, an increase of nearly two-thirds since 1999.
- The primary school net enrollment ratio was 84 percent in 1999 and is estimated to reach 93 percent in 2015.
- Pupil/teacher ratios declined in 83 percent of the 146 countries with data at the primary education level.
- Many countries have increased spending on education. Between 1999 and 2012, 38 countries increased their spending by 1 percentage point or more of national income.
The report also says the number of children and adolescents who were out of school have fallen by almost half since 2000. “An estimated 34 million more children will have attended school as a result of faster progress since Dakar.”
The greatest progress has been achieved in gender parity, particularly in primary education, although gender disparity remains in almost a third of the countries with data, the report says.
“Governments have also increased efforts to measure learning outcomes through national and international assessments, using these to ensure that all children receive the quality of education they were promised.”
But there are still 58 million children out of school globally and around 100 million children who do not complete primary education, the report says. Inequality in education has increased: The world’s poorest children are four times more likely not to go to school than the world’s richest children, and five times more likely not to complete primary school.
In addition, conflict remains a steep barrier to education, with a high and growing proportion of out-of-school children living in conflict zones.
“Overall, the poor quality of learning at primary level still has millions of children leaving school without basic skills,” the report says.
The strategies used to implement the Dakar Framework included investing significantly in basic education, linking educational goals with other poverty-reducing policies, engaging civil society in education development, supporting accountability in governance and management, meeting the needs of education systems in areas of conflict and instability, integrating strategies for gender equality, raising the status of teachers and educators, harnessing information and communication technology, and others.
With the most important goal of universal primary school enrollment left unmet, the EFA report paints a sobering picture of global education development. “The extent of progress was less than anticipated and insufficient to match the scale of ambition,” the report says. “With an unfinished agenda and, with inequality increasing in many cases, the most disadvantaged continue to be the last to benefit.”
Now that the new UN Sustainable Development Goals have been agreed on for the next 15 years with the goal “To Ensure Inclusive and Quality Education for All and Promote Lifelong Learning,” there is hope that more can be done.
Sources: Sustainable Development Goals, EFA Global Monitoring Report 2000-2015,