EFA: Intial Progress, but Momentum is Stalling

Initial Progress...

Initially, the focus provided by the EFA goals and MDGs, along with the continued pressure of civil society organizations succeeded in mobilizing more funds from donors and in prompting significant changes in legislation in Southern countries (e.g. compulsory schooling for children). As a result, since 2000 the number of children out of school has gone down from 100 million to 75 million, and the numbers of illiterate adults from 871 million to 774 million.

But Momentum is Stalling....

We are now past the half way point to 2015 and there are troubling signs that the momentum to reach the EFA goals may be stalling. Despite the initial progress, there is much more work to be done, considering that

  • There are hundreds of millions of illiterate children, youth and adults who cannot read and write.
  • 18 million more teachers are needed if every child is to get a quality education.
  • More than half of the world’s out-of-school children are girls.
  • Globally, tens of millions of children who start primary school drop out by the 5th grade because of poor quality and the economic needs of their families.
  • The quality of education for many students remains poor due to a severe shortage of adequately-trained basic education teachers, textbooks, learning materials and classroom resources.
  • Over half of the world’s 75 million children who are out of school are in conflict-affected countries or emerging states

Donors Not Keeping Promises...

One key reason that progress is stalling is that the rich countries of the world are not fullfilling their commitments to provide the necessary resources.

The Global Campaign for Education estimates that to get every child into school will cost $11 billion a year. For children and adults to get the quality education that has been promised to them will cost $16 billion a year.

If all G8 countries (i.e. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US & Russia) actually gave the aid they have promised, it would enable 60 million children to go to school. (This would require about $5 billion --equivalent to the European nations’ spending on farming subsidies or the cost of four US Stealth Bomber planes.)

Canada currently provides less than half its "fair share" of the cost of providing Education for All (based on its Gross National Income vis-a-vis other donor countries).

Troubling Implications

Beyond missing the 2015 goals, the failure of governments to meet their promises to provide education has much wider ramifications: Uneducated children in the developing world are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses, including trafficking, forced child labour, early child marriage, and indoctrination into the ranks of child soldiers and militias. These children are also more likely to fall victim to deadly disease, including AIDS, and other serious health problems. Without an education, millions will be left to a life of poverty.