International

Developing Countries Lag Behind School Goals

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — November 23, 2004 2 min read

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

Events

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.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

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 Opinion Why Other Countries Keep Outperforming Us in Education (and How to Catch Up)
Money from the American Rescue Plan could be our last chance to build the school system we need, writes Marc Tucker.
Marc Tucker
5 min read
A student climbs stacks of books to reach the top
Tatyana Pivovarova/iStock/Getty Images Plus
International Global Test Finds Digital Divide Reflected in Math, Science Scores
New data from the 2019 Trends in International Math and Science Study show teachers and students lack digital access and support.
3 min read
Image of data.
iStock/Getty
International Pre-COVID Learning Inequities Were Already Large Around the World
A new international benchmarking highlights gaps in training for digital learning and other supports that could deepen the challenge for low-income schools during the pandemic.
4 min read
International Part of Global Trend, 1 in 3 U.S. High Schoolers Felt Disconnected From School Before Pandemic
UNESCO's annual report on global education progress finds countries need to make more effort to include marginalized students, particularly in the United States.
4 min read