Education for all becoming harder to achieve

Millions of children could miss the opportunity to go to school as a result of the financial crisis. The United Nations sounds the alarm in a new report on education.

Lower economic growth and increasing poverty could put a stop to the last decade’s progress towards the goal of education for all. This is the conclusion of the report Reaching the marginalized, which has been drawn up by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with economic support from Norway.

Many donor countries have already reduced their funding for primary education. Worldwide, pledges of support for this sector were reduced by 22%.

The United Nations also point out that it has become more difficult and more expensive to ensure schooling for children and young people who are already marginalized due to poverty, gender, race or language. For example, 97% of poor Hausa-speaking girls in Nigeria have less than two years’ schooling. The national average is 25%.

Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim commented: “This is very unfortunate. There are still 72 million children throughout the world who do not attend school. We need to increase our global effort to ensure that we achieve the vital goal of education for all.”

Minister of Education Kristin Halvorsen pointed out that education is absolutely necessary in order to achieve development and progress in poor countries.

“A good public education system was a decisive element in Norway’s development of its welfare state. The lesson we learned here is also relevant for developing countries, and we have a clear responsibility to support them,” she said.

With a view to strengthening girls’ right to education, Norway provides NOK 500 million this year to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for its efforts to promote primary education and gender equality.

The UNESCO report will form the basis for a summit on education for all to be held in Ethiopia in February 2010, which Norway will take part in.

Source: Ministry of the Environment and International Development

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