UNITED IN DEVELOPMENT
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
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.
The report notes that the only solution to this problem is to hire and retain the services
of good teachers