Africa: Behind the race for Education for all by 2015

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African countries have the unhealthiest environment for school-age children a new report has claimed. Children in Somalia, Eritrea, Comoros, Ethiopia, Chad, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Liberia are not getting an education.

Africa still accounts for almost half of the total of number of unenrolled children. In 1999, 58 percent of African children were enrolled in primary school. By 2008 the figure was 76 percent, the report revealed.

The report produced by Education International, Plan International, Oxfam, Save the Children and VSO, based its reports on access to basic education, teacher-student ratio and educational provisions for girls.

“Education is now on the brink. Sixty-nine million children — more than all the primary school-going children in the United States and Europe — will not be going to school this morning,” Kailash Satyarthi, president of the Global Campaign for Education which issued the report, told a high-level event in New York on the sidelines of a U.N. summit to promote achievement of the goal.

The report comes amidst efforts to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of ensuring a primary school education for every child in the world by 2015.

Co-founder of the Global Campaign, Queen Rania of Jordan said summit after summit has failed to persuade leaders to put resources into education.

“Education doesn’t just beat poverty, it beats disease, it beats inequality- and for girls education, it is nothing less than a lifesaver, from stigmatism, insecurity and violence,” Rania was quoted as saying.

The global recession forced poor countries to cut their education budgets by $4.6 billion. But the Global Campaign for Education believes that “Just $16 billion per year could pay for every child to go to school.”

World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced that its arm that gives grants and soft credits to the world’s 79 poorest countries is pledging an additional $750 million over the next five years, a 40 percent increase in the bank’s basic education spending over the last five years directed at the poorest countries.

The funds are especially for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to help them meet the education goal by 2015.

According to the United Nations, the number of children not in school has dropped from 106 million in 1999 to 69 million in 2008.

However, the report’s “Donor Report Card” gives two countries “A,” the Netherlands and Norway, and four “B,” Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, and Britain. The United States, in 16th place, received a “D” along with France, Germany, New Zealand and others while Greece was at the bottom of the list in 22nd place with an “F.”

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