One in four stu­dents in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries are un­able to read a sin­gle sen­tence. A UNESCO re­port high­lights the need to im­prove the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion. By Mridu Rai

India Today - - BREAKING NEWS -

The 2013-14 Ed­u­ca­tion for All Global Mon­i­tor­ing Re­port ( GMR), which was launched last month in New Delhi, has re­vealed a lack of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and how a fail­ure to reach out to marginalised sec­tions of so­ci­ety has led to a ed­u­ca­tional cri­sis that needs ur­gent at­ten­tion. This is the 11th re­port on global ed­u­ca­tion pub­lished by the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion ( UNESCO).

The re­port en­ti­tled ‘Teach­ing and learn­ing: Achiev­ing qual­ity for All’ con­tains some star­tling sta­tis­tics. Did you know that the poor qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries has left one in four young people un­able to read a sin­gle sen­tence? The GMR notes that the global learn­ing cri­sis has cost gov­ern­ments $129 bil­lion a year and cal­cu­lates that 37 coun­tries are wast­ing at least half the amount they spend on pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion be­cause chil­dren are not learn­ing any­thing of con­se­quence. In con­trast, the study shows that en­sur­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for all can gen­er­ate huge eco­nomic re­wards and even in­crease a coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct per capita by 23 per cent over 40 years.

Speak­ing at an event to launch the re­port, Man­ish Siso­dia, min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion, PWD, ur­ban de­vel­op­ment and rev­enue, Govern­ment of Delhi said, “Even af­ter 20 years of ed­u­ca­tion, to­day’s stu­dents are not con­fi­dent of se­cur­ing a job for them­selves. The coun­try can walk the path of de­vel­op­ment only if there is more in­vest­ment in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.”

Ac­cord­ing to the GMR, the poor­est young women in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries will be com­pletely lit­er­ate only by 2072. High­light­ing the vast eco­nomic dis­par­ity in the coun­try, the re­port states that in In­dia the rich­est young women have al­ready achieved uni­ver­sal lit­er­acy but the poor­est will only do so around 2080. How­ever, the GMR also shows that with the right poli­cies in place quick and steady progress is pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, in Nepal, the lit­er­acy rate of the poor­est young women tripled from 18 per cent in 2001 to 54 per cent in 2011.

The re­port notes that the only so­lu­tion to this prob­lem is to hire and re­tain the ser­vices of good teach­ers. It also

high­lights the need to ad­dress gen­der­based vi­o­lence in schools as it is a ma­jor bar­rier to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion.

In an­other event, UNESCO joined hands with the Com­mon­wealth Ed­u­ca­tional Me­dia Cen­tre for Asia ( CEMCA) to ob­serve World Ra­dio Day on Fe­bru­ary 13, 2014, by host­ing a sem­i­nar ti­tled ‘Com­mu­nity Ra­dio: Strength­en­ing Free­dom of Ex­pres­sion and Em­pow­er­ing Com­mu­ni­ties.’

The sem­i­nar was held to high­light the use of com­mu­nity ra­dio ( CR) as a plat­form to pro­mote ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, free­dom of ex­pres­sion and gen­der equal­ity. Some of the topics dis­cussed at the sem­i­nar was com­mu­nity ra­dio’s role in strength­en­ing gov­er­nance at the grass­root level as well as the op­por­tu­ni­ties it had pro­vided for the em­pow­er­ment of women across Asia.

Pho­to­graph by UNESCO/ POULOMI BASU

The re­port notes that the only so­lu­tion to this prob­lem is to hire and re­tain the ser­vices

of good teach­ers

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