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Education for All?


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela

At the beginning of March, UNESCO released its 2011 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report to evaluate the current climate of global education. The report reveals that despite some individual country gains, we are still way off track to reaching universal primary education by 2015.

Although the number of out-of-school children in 2008 reduced to 67 million, down from 72 million the previous year, we still have a long way to go in just 4 years if we want to meet the second millennium development goal of universal primary education.

This short video and the report describe how one of the biggest barriers currently keeping 42% of those children out of school is violent conflict. The video focuses on the struggles of the education systems in Colombia, Jordan, and the Congo, describing how displacement, violence, and intimidation keep many children out of the classroom.

Twelve years is the average duration of violent conflict episodes in low-income countries, forcing some children to miss their entire primary education and many to have only sporadic schooling.

It’s easy to think there’s nothing we can do to support education in conflict-affected regions, but the EFA report proves that there are many things we can do, and that we should start immediately.

Aid for Education
Education currently only accounts for 2% of all humanitarian aid. That leaves twenty-one developing countries spending more on arms than on primary schools, which is unacceptable if we claim to value education.

According to the EFA Highlights of the report, it would take just six days of military spending by rich countries to close the USD$16 billion Education for All external financing gap. Despite claims by OECD countries that achieving universal primary education by 2015 is a major priority, just 38% of aid requests for education are met, which is around half the average for all sectors.

Speak up for Education
We need to get more good aid into the education sector in conflict-affected countries if we want to help the 28 million children currently out of school to obtain the education they so desperately desire.

You can join people like the Global Campaign for Education to help put pressure on governments to keep their promise to support education for all.

We’ve already had some major wins, seeing 52 million children enrolled in primary school from 1999 to 2008, but we need to pick up the pace if we want to reach the remaining 67 million by 2015.


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