$2.3 billion needed to send all children and adolescents to school in war zones

This blog details the contents of a new paper by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report on the barriers that conflict poses to getting all children and adolescents into school, and a new suggested target for financing education in humanitarian crises.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Our new paper, released today, one week before the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, shows that 34 million children and adolescents are out of school in war zones.  The paper shows that $2.3 billion is required to place them in school – ten times the amount that education is receiving from humanitarian aid right now.

One of the core reasons conflict is taking such a heavy toll on education is lack of financing. In 2014, education received only two per cent of humanitarian aid.

The paper determines that even the suggested target of at least 4%, championed since 2011, is grossly insufficient. Had this target been met in 2013, it would have left 15.5 million children and youth without any humanitarian assistance in education. In 2013, 4% of humanitarian aid would have left over 4 million children and youth in Afghanistan, nearly 1.6 million children and youth in Syria, and almost 3 million in Sudan without humanitarian support.

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Reaching the target of 0.7% of GNI to aid and prioritizing education would fill half of education’s finance gap

On June 25 and 26, the European Council, consisting of Heads of State of European Union members met to discuss issues relating to migration, security and defence. However, as the European Union is coming out of the financial crisis and with the new ambitious development agenda taking shape, another issue that needs attention is the pledge 15 EU countries made 10 years ago to dedicate a share of their national income through aid to some of the poorest countries in the world.

scales_pinkHigh income countries in the European Union and elsewhere committed themselves to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance at a UN General Assembly in 1970. This pledge was reaffirmed in 2005 when EU member states committed to reach their target by 2015. It was again reaffirmed in the Incheon Declaration agreed at the World Education Forum in May 2015 that urged developed countries that have not yet done so to make additional concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for ODA to developing countries

Despite the deadline for the target being upon us, many aid-giving countries are still far from achieving it: Three countries which could be said to have been hardest hit by the economic crisis have not moved closer, or have even moved further away from the target since it was set. Italy, for instance, is only expected to give 0.16% of its national income to development assistance in 2015 – the same as it dedicated in 2004. Portugal and Spain are expected only to dedicate 0.17% in 2015.

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Conflict exacerbates already existing inequalities

The EFA GMR’s last report showed that only a third of countries had reached global education goals set in 2000, and identified conflict as one of the major barriers to achieving better results. A new paper out yesterday in time to feed into the upcoming Oslo and Addis conferences shows the extent of the challenges that conflict presents.

conlfict_blog1GMR analysis, based on the most recent household survey data from low and middle income countries, shows that children in war zones are more than twice as likely and adolescents more than two-thirds as likely to be out of school compared with those in countries not affected by conflict.

In conflict-affected settings, children and adolescents are also more likely to leave school early. While on average 75% of children in low and middle income countries not affected by conflict complete their primary education, only 58% of those in conflict affected countries do so. A similar gap exists for secondary education: 55% of enrolled children in countries not affected by conflict complete lower secondary education compared with just 37% in conflict-affected countries and areas.

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Posted in Basic education, Conflict, Equality, Gender, Human rights, Learning, Marginalization, Out-of-school children, Quality of education, Refugees and displaced people | Leave a comment

The Education Story for the Small Island Development States 2000-2015

This blog sums up a new Regional Overview of the EFA GMR 2015 for the Small Island Developing States. The overview was prepared to feed into the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers taking place this week in the Bahamas.

SIDSmall Island Developing States (SIDS) are a group of 39 countries that share the common characteristics of small size, isolation and vulnerability to natural and environmental disasters. Below is brief overview of their Education for All achievements and challenges during the past 15 years:

Among the 24 countries with data in the region the GMR projects that 14 will reach the early childhood care and education goal by 2015. Nine countries are likely to remain far or very far from the target.

SID1Since 1999, numbers enrolled in pre-primary education increased in more than three-quarters of countries with data in the SIDS, notably in the Cook Islands and Tonga, where ratios more than doubled. However, ratios decreased in several countries, including in Guyana, Saint Lucia and Samoa. Despite overall positive trends, in more than half of SIDS, on average fewer than 75% of children were enrolled in pre-primary school, albeit with major variations across countries, ranging from less than 7% in Guinea-Bissau to more than 100% in Cuba, Mauritius and Seychelles.

One major barrier to pre-primary education in the SIDS is cost. Despite government commitment under EFA to expand ECCE ‘especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged’, in at least half of countries in the region, 60% or more of pre-primary education was provided by the private sector. Private enrolment accounts for 100% of pre-primary enrolment in Saint Lucia, Samoa and Tonga.

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World Refugee Day and the lost generation

One in 122 people worldwide is either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum, says UNHCR’s annual Global Trends Report: World at War, released last Thursday. And given that 58% of all refugees are children, World Refugee Day is a time to reflect on the educational impact of emergency situations, which affect millions of children worldwide.

Camp of Pasi. The only persons at the camp are the survivors from two villages obliterated by the tsunami one kilometer from there.

Photo: UNESCO GMR

During times of emergency and conflict, education is the number one priority for parents, and is vital in reestablishing normality and structure for children in an otherwise unstable environment.

However, while 36% of out of school children live in conflict-affected countries, education accounts for just 2% of humanitarian aid, leaving many children unable to continue school at a time when it matters the most.

According to the UNHCR report, the number of refugees has risen to a staggering 59.5 million in 2014, an increase of over 8 million in just one year. The main reason for such a jump is the war in Syria, which saw an average of 42,500 become refugees every day last year.

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What would you put first? A new suit, or your nation’s education?

Photo: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Photo: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

News has reported this morning that the new National Assembly in Nigeria is to receive $43 million in a clothing allowance, meaning that each of the legislators is receiving over $91,000. According to the latest costing estimates by the EFA GMR team, that amount of money could help 112,000 children access a quality, equitable primary education.

We should remember that over two thirds of people living in Nigeria earn below $1.25 a day, according to 2011 figures. The allowance just received by the 469 legislators for new suits, skirts and shirts, therefore, is equal to the amount that almost 34.5 million people exist on per day.

Aside from clothes, of course, the National Assembly is set to receive all sorts of other allowances, including for furniture and for cars. Those in the House of Representatives will receive the equivalent of $9 million for new chairs and tables, for instance, which could send almost 23,000 children to school. It could be spent on chairs and desks for schools, alternatively.

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Posted in Democracy, Equality, Finance, Governance, Legislation, Out-of-school children, Poverty, Quality of education, Teachers | 9 Comments

Why media reports about learning assessment data make me cringe

montoya-cropped1By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

With a new set of post-2015 education goals and targets on the horizon, the international community is looking to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) to help collect global data on countries as they seek to improve the learning outcomes of their children and youth. UIS is the official source of cross-nationally comparable education data, uniquely placed to identify and produce a range of new indicators with the support of its technical and financial partners. The challenges ahead are tremendous. While addressing the myriad of issues related to data production, we must address the following critical issue: How will the data be used?

The view from the field where scorecards eclipse analysis

Before joining the UIS as Director, I led a series of learning assessment initiatives in my native Argentina. With a small team, we focused on two key areas: producing the policy-relevant information needed for our constituency and ensuring accuracy in every step of the process, from psychometrics to sampling, test administration and data production. There was no room for error – we were producing high-stakes data that would shape education policies and resource allocations for generations.

Credit: Nguyen Thanh Tuan/UNESCO

Credit: Nguyen Thanh Tuan/UNESCO

The work was complex but inspiring. We were producing data that could positively influence the lives of children and their families. But to be honest, I was always nervous about the release of the results. I actually cringe when learning assessments make the front-page news, with headlines focusing on a ‘bad grade’ instead of suggesting recommendations to address the problems faced by the students, their teachers and their families.

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