UNESCO: World off track to meet education goals by 2030

If current trends continue, by 2030, 225 million children will still be out of school, UNESCO warns.

rural african school classroom
By 2030, when all children should be in school, one in six will still be excluded, the UN warns [File: Getty Images]

The world is about to miss a key deadline for ensuring universal education, the United Nations has warned.

World leaders agreed in 2015 that by 2030 all girls and boys should be able to complete free quality primary and secondary education, but funding gaps are holding back progress, a new report by the UN’s education agency (UNESCO) said on Tuesday.

In 2030, when all children should be in school, as per the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, one in six will still be excluded, it said.

On current rates, the report added, 40 percent will still not be completing secondary education, a figure that will rise to 50 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.

Overall, 225 million or 14 percent of all children, adolescents and youth aged six to 17 years around the world are projected to be out of school by 2030, a small drop compared to 262 million or 18 percent in 2017.

“Countries need to face up to their commitments,” Silvia Montoya, director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, said.

“What’s the point in setting targets if we can’t track them? Better finance and coordination are needed to fix this data gap before we get any closer to the deadline.”

Wide disparity

The report tracked positive changes between 2000 and 2008, when the primary out-of-school rate fell from 15 percent to nine percent.

But progress has since stalled, with UNESCO attributing this to the sudden halt in additional educational aid to low-income countries in the wake of the global financial crash a little over a decade ago.

The disparity is wider in low-income countries which, along with stagnating aid, also have some of the most acute deficiencies in infrastructure.

However, despite the lack of progress, some countries have adopted policies since 2015 to meet the goal, a complementary publication by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report said.

It cited Bolivia’s introduction of school vouchers for indigenous students, Vietnam’s abolition of tuition fees for the poorest and the conditional cash transfers given to refugee children in Turkey.

Source: Al Jazeera