UNESCO released the report Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All evaluating the progress being made towards the 2015 Education for All goals. The world will fall short of the goal to provide universal primary education to all children by 2015. Approximately 57 million children fail to attend school, and 250 million more attend schools but fail to learn basic reading and math skills due to low quality education.
Approximately 10% of the money governments spend on primary education goes to waste because it is spent on substandard education that does little to benefit students. This equates to nearly $129 billion a year being squandered. Under these conditions, one-quarter of the world’s children (175 million) are unable to read even a sentence after four years of primary education.
Children in poor and developing nations suffer the most from the failure of educational systems to deliver quality teaching. These countries have vastly improved attendance rates in primary schools, yet children are not getting the full benefit of the educational opportunities being provided.
This crisis in global education is largely due to severe shortages of teachers and a lack of proper training for those that are actively working in schools. There are not nearly enough qualified teachers available to staff schools and give children the attention they need. As a result, many schools struggle with high student to teacher ratios that make it impossible for teachers to give all students adequate attention.
Additionally, according to the UNESCO report “in a third of countries, less than 75% of primary school teachers are trained.” Many teachers lack appropriate formal training to national standards and are never adequately tested on their abilities to provide instruction before being placed in classrooms.
“Teachers have the future of this generation in their hands. We need 5.2 million teachers to be recruited by 2015, and we need to work harder to support them in providing children with their right to a universal, free and quality education. We must also make sure that there is an explicit commitment to equity in new global education goals…so that no one is left behind” explained Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General.
The UNESCO report recommended that governments focus upon four actions to improve the situation. Governments need to implement reforms to ensure teachers are properly trained and capable of supporting the neediest students. They must also select teachers who represent the same diversity as the children they teach, and ensure that underprivileged areas are being served by high quality teachers. Finally, the report called for governments to improve working conditions and provide incentives in order to attract and retain qualified teachers.
The Education for All Goals were established in 2000 as part of an effort to provide all children, youth and adults with worldwide with a quality education. These goals focus on six goals which include: early childhood care and education, universal primary education, youth and adult skills, adult literacy, gender parity and equality, and quality of education. Although improvements have occurred, this report indicated that none of these global goals will be met by the initial target date of 2015.