|One in three teenage girls from the world’s poorest households has never attended school, according to a new paper launched by UN agency the United Nations Children’s Fund / Photo by: Adam Jones via Flickr|
One in three teenage girls from the world’s poorest households has never attended school, according to a new paper launched by UN agency the United Nations Children’s Fund, which is responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children around the world.
Global Learning Crisis
After the children charity found that 30% of the world’s poorest adolescent girls have no access to education, it urged the policymakers to address the “shameful” disparities in education spending. The report highlights that excluding the world’s poorest children from education drives poverty and the global learning crisis. Among the obstacles that these children face is discrimination because of disability, poor infrastructure, ethnic origin, gender.
UNICEF added that although there are poor children who can attend school, they continue to face challenges, including having poorly trained teachers, poor school infrastructure, lack of school materials, and large class sizes. All these things create an adverse impact on their learning, enrolment, and attendance. The countries that are failing the poorest children are also failing themselves, the report pointed out.
The UNICEF team analyzed the data of children between 10 and 19 years old from 42 countries. It found that 20% of teenage boys from the world’s poorest households have never been to school. Their findings likewise show that both girls and boys had an equal number (14%) of dropouts in primary school. In the UK, they refer to it as elementary school.
Children From the Poorest vs. Richest Households
The report finds a disparity in education spending. It was revealed that 20% of children from the world’s richest households received nearly double the amount for education funding compared to the poorest households. The inequality is most obvious in Africa, such as in Guinea, as the richest kids there benefited nine times more out of the education budget supposedly allotted to the most deprived. Countries with equal distribution of education funding were found in Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, along with Barbados and Ireland. The equal distribution of education funding in these countries balance the budget for the poorest and the richest households.
Data from the World Bank has also been cited. UNICEF said that over half the children in the world who are living in middle- and low-income nations could not understand or read a simple story at the end of their primary school years.
The children charity advised that at least 10% of the countries’ education budget should be allocated to general pre-primary education so that governments can solve the global learning crisis. It emphasizes the importance of pre-primary education as the foundation for higher school level.
UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore said via business and financial market news platform CNBC that as long as the public education funding will remain unequal, there is little hope for countries to escape poverty. She referred to the situation as a “critical juncture” but it can be addressed if investment in education will be done equally so that everyone will have the best chance of lifting themselves out of poverty. Armed with education, it can empower people with the skills they need in life to seize opportunities. Fore believes that investment in education should be done equitably and wisely, focusing on children’s education.
Right to Education
International child sponsorship NGO Humanium has also acknowledged the children’s right to education. It said that education is still inaccessible to millions of kids worldwide. Over 72 million kids who are already in their primary education age are not yet sent to school and 759 adults today are illiterate or they are not equipped with awareness to help improve their living conditions and their children.
Among the causes of lack of education it shared are poverty and marginalization and the financial deficit of developing countries.
Why the Education of Girls Is in Jeopardy
Girls have the least access to education compared to boys because of the traditional and cultural privilege given to males. There are still cultures that believe girls are destined to focus on family homes while boys have to venture the world outside, thus, the need to be educated. More than 12 million girls are at risk of not receiving an education in sub-Saharan Africa, the NGO stated. In Yemen, more than 80% of the girls will also not have the opportunity to attend school. This is an alarming inequality.
Pre-Primary Education: Statistics
Our World in Data, a scientific online publication that focuses on large global problems, shares the total number of students enrolled in public and private pre-primary institutions in the world regardless of age. In its 1973 record, the number of enrolled kids are as follows: Latin America and Caribbean (2.06 million), North America (4.62 million), Europe and Central Asia (10.65 million), Middle East and North Africa (611,675), Sub-Saharan Africa (2.47 million), South Asia (3.38 million), East Asia and Pacific (4.76 million). The total was 28.55 million children in the world enrolled in pre-primary schools.
In 2014, the total number of children enrolled in pre-primary schools reached 133.19 million. The number is distributed as follows: Latin America and Caribbean (19.22 million), North America (9.33 million), Europe and Central Asia (10.54 million), Middle East and North Africa (4.00 million), Sub-Saharan Africa (17.96 million), South Asia (18.27 million), East Asia and Pacific (53.86 million).
Meanwhile, countries with the highest pupil-teacher ratio in pre-primary education as of 2015 include Central African Republic (44.27 headcount basis), Burundi (35.27), Zimbabwe (37.44), South Africa (32.03), Ghana (33.97), El Salvador (34.12), Eritrea (33.83), Cambodia (31.35), Solomon Islands (33.22), and Angola (31.54).
UNICEF has also recommended that governments of the world should offer at least one year of universal pre-primary education for every child. They believe that kids who completed pre-primary education are more likely to stay in school and learn better. As a result, they contribute more to societies and economies by the time they reach adulthood.
Lack of education has serious effects not only on the individual but the society as a whole. Since all children have the right to learn and go to school regardless of how much money their family earns, may the policymakers learn from the recent UNICEF report and make initiatives to help the children who are most at risk.