The world financial crisis could sabotage poor countries’ efforts to get more children into school, UNESCO says in a report released last week.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization urges more funding and attention for those shut out of education systems such as ethnic minorities and rural girls, who account for a disproportionate share of the legions of school-age children who have never seen the inside of a classroom.
Some 72 million children were out of school in 2007, and the report estimates that 56 million will remain out of school in 2015.
As the financial-market crisis hit economies worldwide, wealthy countries cut back on their aid to poor countries, even as the developing countries themselves suffered budget shortfalls and slashed their own education spending, the report says. Families in poor countries, meanwhile, kept children home from school as unemployment rose and remittances from family members working abroad diminished.
The report says poor countries will need $16 billion more a year if they are to meet goals laid out in 2000, when 164 countries pledged to make free primary education available to all children and to work toward eliminating adult illiteracy and ending gender disparities in education.
Even if the goals still seem elusive, the trend over the past decade has been positive, the report adds. The number of children out of school has dropped by 33 million worldwide since 1999, even as global population rose.
A version of this article appeared in the January 27, 2010 edition of Education Week as U.N. Report Finds Financial Crisis Shutting Children Out of School