As part of the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000, the U.N. set the goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015. Today, in 2013, it is already clear that progress has been made. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization recently put out a report stating that, “India has made the largest progress in absolute terms of any country in the world … reducing out-of-school (children) numbers from 20 million in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2006, and (around) 1.7 million by latest data.”
This progress in India is largely due to a welfare program called Sarva Shishka Abhiyan aiming to universalize elementary education and make education entitled by law. While enrollments may be high, in some cases actual attendance remains low. This still poses a serious problem, as those who do not attend classes will face challenges keeping up in school and later on in career opportunities and financial stability. It is uplifting, however, to know that South Asia, one of the poorest regions in the world has made some of the best progress in terms of getting young people into schools.
Finding the ability to engage the minds of children in other developing regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, has proved to be more difficult. While the continent has shown signs of significant improvement in education since 2000 (from 58% to 87% enrollment), progress is not being achieved equally across the region. Some places like Burundi have offered free and compulsory primary school education, which explains UNICEF estimates that the proportion of children in school increased from 59% to 96% over just six years. Despite these successes, it is estimated that around 31 million children across sub-Saharan Africa are still not receiving a primary school education.
In order to tackle these issues challenging global education, some different solutions have been proposed. One common suggestion is to use investments from other developed countries in order to bolster education policies. However, educationists like Vinod Raina, a member of the Central Advisory Board on Education, say that “basic education should be a responsibility of the domestic economy and countries like India should never rely on grants or loans.”
Raina went on to explain the problem at hand, expanding, “…some countries, which don’t have a robust domestic economy, need sustained allocation from donor countries and agencies.” So, while the countries in question should have the responsibility of providing education, in some cases it is impossible for them to do so. With many developed countries are decreasing their aid budgets, the Millennium Development Goal of universal education seems far away. Only with improved federal aid and some way to police enrollment as well as attendance will global education be achieved and the next generation be inspired to achieve bigger and better things.
– Sarah Rybak