The target set by world leaders for all children to have at least a primary education by 2030 is likely to be missed warns a new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report from Unesco. The UN agency says at the current rate of progress it will take until 2042. It will be 2084 before all pupils have access to the end of secondary school.
The promise that all children should have the right to primary education was first made in 1990, with a commitment that it would be achieved in a decade. It was missed. Another 15-year target was set in 2000. It failed. In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals set another target and is now already off track.
On current trends universal primary education in sub-Saharan Africa will be achieved in 2080; universal lower secondary completion in 2089; and universal upper secondary completion in 2099. This would leave the region 70 years late for the 2030 SDG deadline. Nigeria, on current trends, will achieve universal primary education in 2070, universal lower secondary education 2080 and universal upper secondary education in the next century.
Bangladesh is expected to achieve universal primary education in 2055 and universal lower secondary education in 2075 while universal upper secondary education not until the next century.
“If we want a greener planet, and sustainable futures for all, we must ask more from our education systems than just a transfer of knowledge. We need our schools and lifelong learning programmes to focus on economic, environmental and social perspectives that help nurture empowered, critical, mindful and competent citizens.” said Aaron Benavot, Director of the GEM Report.
61 million children of primary age who do not have access to school. Among the poorest rural girls, only 1% are likely to reach upper secondary school. In Nigeria, inequalities are high: the richest males have over 12 years more education to their name than the poorest females. 40% of the global population are taught in a language they don’t understand.
“A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of our planet,” said UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. “Now, more than ever, education has a responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive growth, and peaceful living together.”
Half of countries’ class-room curricula worldwide do not explicitly mention climate change in their content. Despite being one of the regions most affected by the effects of environmental change, sub-Saharan Africa has far fewer mentions of sustainable development in its curricula in comparison with Latin America, Europe and North America.
On current trends, by 2020, there will be 45 million too few workers with tertiary education relative to demand. Investing in higher education is particularly crucial for growth in sub-Saharan Africa: increasing tertiary attainment by one year on average would increase its long-term GDP level by 16%. Yet, in 2014, only 8% were enrolled in tertiary education in the region, far below the second-lowest regional average, that of South and West Asia (23%), and the global average (34%). In Nigeria, only 6% were enrolled in tertiary education in 2014.
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