The world’s education crisis got a lot worse last year.
That’s the bottom line from a new United Nations report that found that the number of children out of school around the world increased by 1 million since last year’s report, bringing the total to 264 million children who don’t have access to an education.
That means nearly 10% of the world’s children don’t have the opportunity to go to school, a startling statistic that isn’t improving.
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The numbers were released in the Global Education Monitoring Report from UNSECO, UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The report, which monitors educational progress around the world, also revealed how few children are completing their educations, and identified some potential causes of the world’s failures in educational attainment.
For those kids who are in school, many are not completing their educations, according to the report. While 83% of students globally finish primary school, only 69% finish lower secondary (ending at age 14), and only 45% complete upper secondary school, or high school.
This means that among those who did have access to schooling, less than half received a high-school education.
In her introduction to the report, Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova wrote that lack of accountability in school systems often leads to kids falling through the cracks, and such weaknesses threaten the most vulnerable children.
“When public systems do not provide an education of sufficient quality, and for profit actors fill the gap but operate without regulations, the marginalized lose out,” she said. “[L]ack of accountability risks jeopardizing progress, allowing harmful practices [to] become embedded in education systems.”
Those statements were echoed in the statistics that showed large inequities in education for the world’s poor. While the world average for completing lower-secondary education was 69%, only 12% of boys and 8% of girls in the poorest income bracket did so.
Furthermore, these inequities may even be underestimated due to government reluctance to collect education data on the groups at risk of exclusion from school. The report estimated that up to 350 million children may have been underrepresented in their survey methods.
Bokova concluded her introduction by indicating that accountability is the key to meeting the commitments outline in the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Accountability is about interpreting evidence, identifying problems and working out how to solve them,” she said. “This must be the backbone to all our efforts to achieve equitable, quality education for all.”