South Asia needs to boost primary education

May 08, 2018

The Kathmandu Post, 08 May 2018

UN Children’s Fund says 30m children denied education

Around thirty million students from South Asia between 5 to 14 years of age who should attend school and avail education are out-of-school, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

South Asian countries have prioritised education and they have achieved commendable gains in bringing out-of-school children into the educational system, but still significant challenge remains the UNICEF said.

The UN body’s remarks came at a three-day conference titled ‘Delivering the Learning Generation in South Asia: Regional Conference on the Delivery Approach’ in Kathmandu on Monday.

Delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are participating

in the event co-hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (the Education Commission).

In a statement today, the UNICEF South Asia Regional Director Jean Gough said, “While impressive strides have been made in achieving universal primary education, we have a learning crisis in South Asia with only about half of primary-aged children receiving education with minimum learning standards.

“We need much greater investment and increased quality education for girls and boys alike if we hope to see the next generation reach their full potential.”

The UNICEF said only 69% of children have access to early childhood education and only a quarter of young people leave school with the secondary skills they need.

The growing skills gap will stunt economic growth, with far-reaching social and political repercussions.  Unless urgent action is taken, the region will fall short of meeting the Education Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education and learning for millions of children and youth by 2030.

In 2016, the Education Commission launched The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing world report with an action plan for the largest expansion of educational opportunity in history.

Drawing on new research from more than 300 partners in 105 countries, the report highlights an ever-worsening learning crisis that, if left unaddressed, will leave half of the world’s 1.6 billion children and youth out of school or failing to learn by 2030.