One in every five children, adolescents and youth is out of school worldwide
by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, agencies
New figures on the number of children out of school worldwide reveal that despite decades of efforts to get every child into the classroom, progress has come to a standstill. According to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), about 263 million children, adolescents and youth worldwide - one in every five - are out school, a figure that has barely changed over the past five years.
The new numbers are published as delegates gather in Paris for the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-Education 2030 Steering Committee meeting. The Committee is a unique body providing strategic guidance on the advancement of the Education 2030 Agenda. SDG4 includes a concrete commitment to ensure that every girl and boy is completing a good quality primary and secondary education by 2030.
The rate of progress, or the lack of it, varies by age group, according to a UIS paper released today. At primary level, the out-of-school rate has barely moved at all over the past decade, with 9% of children of primary age (about 6 to 11 years), or 63 million, out of school.
In addition, 61 million adolescents of lower secondary age (about 12 to 14 years) and 139 million youth of upper secondary age –one in every three – are not enrolled in school. These youth, between the ages of about 15 to 17 years, are four times more likely to be out of school than children of primary age, and more than twice as likely to be out of school as those of lower secondary age.
“These new figures show starkly the size of the gap that needs to be closed to ensure universal access to education,” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “We need much more comprehensive and targeted approaches together with more resources to reach those children and youth who are denied the right to education, with a special emphasis on girls and on improving the quality of education for all. This is the greatest urgency for unlocking progress towards SDG4.”
The UIS figures confirm that across sub-Saharan Africa one in every three children, adolescents and youth are out of school - with girls more likely to be excluded than boys. For every 100 boys of primary age out of school, there are 123 girls denied the right to education.
The new data also highlight a gulf between out-of-school rates in the world’s poorest and richest countries, with an upper-secondary out-of-school rate of 59% across the world’s low-income countries, compared to just 6% in high-income countries.
According to Silvia Montoya, Director of the UIS, “Access to education is only part of the picture. We also have a learning crisis, with one in six children and adolescents not reaching minimum proficiency levels in reading or mathematics; the majority of them are in school. Education has to deliver for every child, which requires effective monitoring to ensure that all children are in school, and that they are learning what they need to know. That is why the UIS, which is the official data source for SDG 4, is developing new indicators on equitable education and learning outcomes.”
The new figures reinforce calls for far greater global investment in education at all levels to ensure progress towards SDG 4, including more resources for data gathering and analysis to monitor the pace and equity of that progress.
Progress for Every Child in the SDG Era - Report from UN Children''s Fund
The latest data on development progress for children shows over half a billion more live in countries where the SDGs are quickly falling out of reach.
Early assessment of progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals confirms an alarming lack of data in 64 countries, as well as insufficient progress toward the SDGs for another 37 countries where the data can be tracked.
The UNICEF report, Progress for Children in the SDG Era, is the first thematic report assessing performance toward achieving the SDG global targets that concern children and young people. The report warns that 520 million children live in countries which completely lack data on at least two-thirds of child-related SDG indicators, or lack sufficient data to assess their progress – rendering those children effectively “uncounted.”
Where sufficient data is available, the scale of the challenge posed by the SDG targets remains daunting. The report warns that 650 million children live in countries where at least two-thirds of the SDGs are out of reach without accelerated progress. In fact, in those countries, even more children could face bad outcomes in life by 2030 than now.
“More than half the world’s children live in countries where we either can’t track their SDG progress, or where we can and they are woefully off-track,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director for the Division of Data, Research and Policy. “The world must renew its commitment to attaining the SDGs, starting with renewing its commitment to measuring them.”
The report tracks progress on five dimensions of children’s rights: health, learning, protection from violence and exploitation, a safe environment and equal opportunity. The report quantifies how far short of the global goals the world is currently expected to fall, measured in human costs. Projections show that between now and 2030:
10 million additional children would die of preventable causes before their fifth birthday;
31 million children would be left stunted due to lack of adequate nutrition;
22 million children would miss out on pre-primary education;
150 million girls will marry before their 18th birthday;
670 million people, many of them children, will still be without basic drinking water.
“Two years ago, the world agreed on an ambitious agenda to give every child the best chance in life, with cutting-edge data analysis to guide the way,” said Chandy. “And yet, what our comprehensive report on SDG progress for children reveals plainly is an abject lack of data. Most countries do not have the information even to assess whether they are on track or not. Children around the world are counting on us – and we can’t even count all of them.”
The report calls for renewed efforts to address the global data-deficiency, while recognizing that strong national data institutions and capacity take time and investment to develop. The report identifies three principles to underpin this work:
Building strong measurement into service delivery systems, whether in health or education, social services or border control;
Systematic and coordinated efforts to ensure all countries have minimum data coverage for children, irrespective of their resources and capabilities;
Establishing stronger shared norms on data concerning children, including common approaches to measuring emerging threats facing children, capturing missing child populations, and sharing data to enable vulnerable children to be more effectively identified, while protecting children’s privacy.
While each government is ultimately accountable to generate the data that will guide and measure achievement of the goals, the international community has an obligation to partner with them to make sure the SDG targets are met.
# Of the 44 indicators linked to nine SDGs specific to children, 39 were assessed for data availability and progress. On average, 75-80 percent of indicators in countries either have insufficient data or show insufficient progress.
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Despite progress, 180 million children face bleaker prospects than their parents
by UNICEF U-Report initiative
20 November 2017
Despite progress, 180 million children face bleaker prospects than their parents.
Despite global progress, 1 in 12 children worldwide live in countries where their prospects today are worse than those of their parents, according to a UNICEF analysis conducted for World Children’s Day.
According to the analysis, 180 million children live in 37 countries where they are more likely to live in extreme poverty, be out of school, or be killed by violent death than children living in those countries were 20 years ago.
“While the last generation has seen vast, unprecedented gains in living standards for most of the world''s children, the fact that a forgotten minority of children have been excluded from this – through no fault of their own or those of their families – is a travesty” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy.
UNICEF is commemorating World Children’s Day, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with global children’s ''take-overs'', high-profile events and other activations of children in over 130 countries to give children their own platform to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and fulfil their potential.
“It is the hope of every parent, everywhere, to provide greater opportunities for their children than they themselves enjoyed when they were young. This World Children’s Day, we have to take stock of how many children are instead seeing opportunities narrow and their prospects diminish,” added Chandy.
Assessing children’s prospects in escaping extreme poverty, getting a basic education and avoiding violent deaths, the UNICEF analysis reveals that:
• The share of people living on less than $1.90 a day has increased in 14 countries, including Benin, Cameroon, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This increase is mostly due to unrest, conflicts or poor governance.
• Primary school enrolment has declined in 21 countries, including Syria and Tanzania, due to such factors as financial crises, rapid population growth and the impact of conflicts.
• Violent deaths among children below the age of 19 have increased in seven countries: Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen – all countries experiencing major conflicts.
• Four countries – Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen – witnessed a decline across more than one of the three areas measured, while South Sudan has experienced declines across all three.
“In a time of rapid technological change leading to huge gains in living standards, it is perverse that hundreds of millions are seeing living standards actually decline, creating a sense of injustice among them and failure among those entrusted with their care,” said Chandy. “No wonder they feel their voices are unheard and their futures uncertain.”
A separate UNICEF survey of children aged 9-18 in 14 countries also released today shows that children are deeply concerned about global issues affecting their peers and them personally, including violence, terrorism, conflict, climate change, unfair treatment of refugees and migrants, and poverty.
Key findings from the survey include:
• Half of children across all 14 countries report feeling disenfranchised when asked how they felt when decisions are made that affect children around the world.
• Children in South Africa and the United Kingdom feel the most disenfranchised with 73 per cent and 71 per cent respectively reporting feeling that their voices are not heard at all or their opinions do not make a change anyway.
• Children in India report feeling the most empowered with 52 per cent of children believing their voices are heard and can help their country and that their opinions can affect the future of their country.
• Children across all 14 countries identified terrorism, poor education and poverty as the biggest issues they wanted world leaders to take action on.
• Across all 14 countries, violence against children was the biggest concern with 67 per cent reporting worrying a lot. Children in Brazil, Nigeria, and Mexico are the most worried about violence affecting children, with 82 per cent, 77 per cent and 74 per cent respectively worrying a lot about this issue. Children in Japan are the least likely to worry, with less than a quarter of children surveyed (23 per cent) worrying a lot.
• Children across all 14 countries are equally concerned about terrorism and poor education with 65 per cent of all children surveyed worrying a lot about these issues. Children in Turkey and Egypt are the most likely to worry about terrorism affecting them personally, at 81 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.
By contrast, children in the Netherlands are the least likely to be concerned that terrorism would affect them directly, at just 30 per cent. Children in Brazil and Nigeria are the most concerned about poor quality education or lack of access, with more than 8 in 10 children worrying about this affecting children across the world.
• Around 4 in 10 children across all 14 countries worry a lot about the unfair treatment of refugee and migrant children across the world. Children in Mexico, Brazil and Turkey are the most likely to worry about unfair treatment of refugee and migrant children across the world, with nearly 3 in 5 Mexican children expressing fear, followed by more than half of children in Brazil and Turkey. Around 55 per cent of children in Mexico are worried this will personally affect them.
• Nearly half of children (45 per cent) across 14 countries do not trust their adults and world leaders to make good decisions for children. Brazil has the highest proportion of children (81 per cent) who do not trust leaders, followed by South Africa at 69 per cent. Children in India have the most confidence in their leaders, with only 30 per cent not trusting.
• Watching TV featured as the number one hobby of choice in 7 out of 14 of the countries.
World Children’s Day is a day ‘for children, by children’, when children from around the world will be taking over key roles in media, politics, business, sport and entertainment to express their concerns about what global leaders should be focusing on, and to voice support for the millions of their peers who are facing a less hopeful future.
“World Children’s Day is about listening to us and giving us a say in our future. And our message is clear: We need to speak up for ourselves, and when we do, the world needs to listen,” said Jaden Michael, 14-year-old activist and UNICEF child advocate.
# The 37 countries in which prospects for children are declining in at least one key respect are: Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Côte d''Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guatemala, Guyana, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Iraq, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Paraguay, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tonga, United Republic of Tanzania, Ukraine, Vanuatu. Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
For the survey, UNICEF polled more than 11,000 children aged between 9 and 18 years old in 14 countries about their concerns and attitudes on global issues including bullying, conflict/war, poverty, terrorism and violence against children. The countries surveyed were: Brazil, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Destructive impact of conflict on education highlighted in four-country African youth survey.
Unsafe or damaged schools, absent teachers and dangerous journeys to class are among the destructive ways that conflict is impacting the learning prospects of young Africans according to a new UNICEF survey carried out in four countries.
Based on polling among 128,000 young people in Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda, Chad and Nigeria, the survey findings were presented at a special dialogue event in Brussels ahead of the forthcoming African Union – EU Summit. The event was organised by UNICEF and the European Commission Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Disruption to education as a result of conflict was reported by up to 76 per cent of survey respondents in Nigeria, and as many as 89 per cent in parts of northern Uganda. Schools that had been forced to shut or been damaged were the factor cited by almost 50 per cent of respondents overall. A lack of teachers and unsafe journeys to school were the other main ways respondents said violence had undermined their opportunities to learn.
Similar results were registered in CAR, where an estimated 80 per cent of the country is under the control of armed groups.
Over half of respondents said that while education was vital in providing them with skills and opportunities, learning also played a vital role in promoting peace.
Youth representatives at the Brussels meeting said the call for more resources to be dedicated to education should be heard loud and clear at the African Union – EU summit, which is being held in Cote D’Ivoire on November 29-30 with the theme of “investing in youth.”
“Young people in Africa represent so much dormant potential,” said Ubanwa Oyudo from Nigeria. “They represent the future, but to secure that future, investment is needed.”
19 year old Judith Sankagui said children in Central African Republic needed support “if they are to contribute, like those in other countries, to the future of this planet.”
“What this survey shows is that conflict is blighting the lives and hopes of an enormous number of young Africans,” said UNICEF Nigeria Representative Mohamed Malick Fall. “At the same time, it demonstrates that for those same youth, the issues of education and peace are tied closely together.”
The survey also underlined the huge importance young Africans attach to the role of technology in their education. 96 per cent of respondents agreed that technology could support their learning prospects.
The survey was conducted among youth from the UNICEF-supported U-Report initiative, a real-time social messaging tool that enables communication between young people and decision makers on issues that they care about. ‘U-Reporters’ respond to polls, report issues, support child rights and work as positive agents of change on behalf of people in their country. Today there are over 3 million U-reporters in more than 30 countries. http://ureport.in/
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