UNICEF is urging world leaders to invest in education for the world’s poorest children in a new report published Monday.
The UN children agency released the report, "Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children," at the Education World Forum in London. Representatives from 120 countries were present at the conference to discuss education systems around the world and brainstorm how to use technology to improve schools.
“Countries everywhere are failing the world’s poorest children, and in doing so, failing themselves,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a press release.
The lack of resources available for the world’s poorest children is worsening a “crippling learning” crisis, according to the agency.
A third of the world’s poorest girls between 10 and 18 years old have never been to school, the report said. Poverty, gender-based discrimination, disability, poor infrastructure, and living a far distance from school are some of the factors denying millions of young people an education.
Many of the world’s poorest children do not have a school to attend even if they had the option, according to the report. Lack of girls' education was exacerbated by public education budgets that often disproportionately support richer children.
Ten countries across Africa had the biggest disparities in education spending, with Guinea, Central African Republic, Senegal, and Cameroon showing the biggest education disparity, UNICEF said. The disparity is causing poor children to miss school entirely or to receive a sub-par education in classrooms that have too many students or do not have trained teachers.
Barbados, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden are the only countries in the report that distribute education equally between rich and poor children.
The report maps out guidelines for governments to follow in order to provide equal quality education by prioritizing and equally distributing funding between rich and poor children, and guaranteeing one year of universal pre-primary school for every child.