Developing Countries Lag Behind School Goals

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — November 23, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

More children are attending school around the world than ever before, but most developing countries are far behind their goals for providing universal schooling and educational programs of good quality, concludes the latest monitoring report by UNESCO.

“Education for All 2005: The Quality Imperative” is available online from UNESCO.

Too many students, the organization reports, are in overcrowded classes and have incompetent teachers and inadequate materials. As a result, many children drop out of school before grade 5 or fail to learn minimal skills.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has been tracking the progress of 160 countries toward meeting six educational goals outlined at a summit in 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, as part of UNESCO’s Education for All initiative. The participating countries have promised to work toward achieving early-childhood education, universal primary education, skills development, adult literacy, educational quality, and gender equity by 2015.

“The message is that the world is making progress toward meeting the six educational goals, but the amount of progress has been too slow,” said Christopher Colclough, a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies in London, who wrote the report. “And educational quality in some parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, has been in decline.”

‘Multiple Challenges’

According to the data, 41 countries—primarily industrialized nations—are close to meeting those goals. Another 51—including Romania, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, many of the Arab states, and most Latin American countries—are on track for doing so over the next decade.

See Also

Return to the main story,

But 35 countries are “very far from achieving the goals,” and they face “multiple challenges to tackle simultaneously if Education for All is to be assured,” the report says. More than 20 of those countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are also in that category.

Eleven countries, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Finland, and South Africa among them, were studied closely to compare strategies among relatively wealthy and developing countries for improving educational access and quality.

More than 103.5 million children worldwide are out of school, although that number has been declining. And while more and more children are attending school, the report says, facilities and supplies have not expanded to accommodate them.

A version of this article appeared in the November 24, 2004 edition of Education Week as Developing Countries Lag Behind School Goals


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

International Photos PHOTOS: Take a Round-the-World Tour of the Return to School
Here's what back to school looks like in classrooms around the globe.
1 min read
A teacher gives a lesson on the first day of school at a cadet lyceum in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sept. 4, 2023.
Young cadets sing the national anthem during a ceremony on the first day of school at a cadet lyceum in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 4, 2023.
Efrem Lukatsky/AP
International Opinion School Reform Is Tough All Over, Not Just in the U.S.
Even though some reforms produce evidence of student success, that often isn't enough to overcome political hurdles.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
International In Their Own Words What a Teachers' Union Leader Saw in Ukraine
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was in the country just after widespread air strikes from Russia.
4 min read
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten prepares to cross the border into Ukraine on Oct. 10.
Randi Weingarten visited Ukraine on Oct. 10—the day Russian missiles slammed into Lviv, Kyiv, and other cities.
Courtesy of AFT
International Q&A 'Tell American Students to Be Grateful': What Ukrainian Refugees Told AFT's President
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten traveled to Poland to meet with Ukrainian students and teachers.
4 min read
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten passes out books to Ukrainian refugees at a makeshift school in a hostel in Warsaw, Poland, on April 4, 2022.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten passes out books to Ukrainian refugees at a makeshift school in a hostel in Warsaw, Poland, on April 4.
Courtesy of Asher Huey