Youth voices heard as report shows only half of countries have primary schooling for all

Young people are rising up to demand their right to an education – and they are calling on the world’s leaders to take urgent action.

Their voices are heard in a special youth version of an annual report which for the past 15 years has tracked progress towards getting every child into school. Their inspirational quotes add a human face to the bare statistics contained in the main 2015 Education For All Global Monitoring Report, which is released today.

It reveals that just one-third of countries have achieved all of the measurable Education for All goals set in 2000 and only half of all countries have managed to get every boy and girl into primary education.

The report – titled Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges and produced by UNESCO – also said an extra $22 billion a year is needed on top of already ambitious government contributions in order to ensure new education targets now being set for the year 2030 are met.

Chernor Bah says the youth report shows the “hopes and dreams”

The youth version of the report has been produced by A World at School in association with UNESCO. It has a foreword by A World at School co-founder Chernor Bah, who co-ordinates our Global Youth Ambassadors programme which has 500 young advocates in 85 countries. He said the youth version was “innovative and compelling”.

Chernor added: “The stories of these young people illuminate the remarkable progress the world has made in education, the heartbreaking and costly failures, the urgent challenges that lie ahead and the hopes and dreams of a still optimistic generation.

Read the youth version of the 2015 Global Monitoring Report

“The stories reveal a glimpse of a huge groundswell of activism for education. The youth who defied terrorists and joined hands to declare #IamMalala and #BringBackOurGirls, who took over the United Nations to call for education and who are creating pressure globally with the #UpForSchool Petition – set to be the largest petition in history – are doing some revolutionary things in villages and cities around the world to make the dream of education a reality.”

Chernor said it was “simply unacceptable” that development aid to basic education continues to be cut and that just 2% of humanitarian aid is spent getting children who are traumatised by disaster and violence back in the classroom.”

A page from the Global Monitoring Report youth version

The youth version of the report is packed with facts, figures and the six Education For All goals. But it also contains some moving and inspirational quotes from young people and youth advocates – some of them our Global Youth Ambassadors – affected by the issues behind those goals.

Ahmed, 14, from Pakistan said: “A friend of mine left school because he was the eldest of many siblings and his father couldn’t feed them all. Now he runs his father’s French fries stall.” Fauzia, also 14 and from Ghana, said: “When a girl child is educated and becomes a career woman in te future, she can also support her nation and other countries around the world.”

As the Global Monitoring Report was launched, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said: “The world has made tremendous progress towards Education for All. Despite not meeting the 2015 deadline, millions more children are in school than would have been had the trends of the 1990s persisted.

Watch this video to see key findings from the Global Monitoring Report 2015

“However, the agenda is far from finished. We need to see specific, well-funded strategies that prioritise the poorest – especially girls – improve the quality of learning and reduce the literacy gap so that education becomes meaningful and universal.”

The six Education For All goals set in 2000 were:

  • Expand early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable children – 47% of countries reached the goal and 8% were close
  • Achieve universal primary education, particularly for girls, ethnic minorities and marginalised children – 52% of countries achieved this and 10% were close
  • Ensure equal access to learning and life skills for youth and adults – 46% of countries reached universal lower secondary enrolment
  • Achieve a 50% reduction in levels of adult illiteracy by 2015 – only 25% of countries reached this goal, 32% remain very far from it
  • Achieve gender parity and equality – gender parity will be achieved at the primary level in 69% of countries by 2015. At secondary level, only 48% of countries will reach the goal
  • Improve the quality of education and ensure measurable learning outcomes for all – the numbers of pupils per teacher decreased in 121 of 146 countries between 1990 and 2012 at the primary level but four million more teachers are still needed to get all children into school

Read more inspiring stories and find out how you can join the youth movement on our special Education Verdict website, where we will continue to add great content.

And read A World at School’s campaigns director Ben Hewitt’s blog on the Global Monitoring Report.