Universal Education

The Sustainable Development Goals, which the international community adopted in September, include a commitment to provide every child with access to free primary and secondary education by 2030.

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May 26, 2017 – Online MCAT CARS Practice

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The Sustainable Development Goals, which the international community adopted in September, include a commitment to provide every child with access to free primary and secondary education by 2030. Finding the additional $20 billion per year, or more, that will needed to deliver on this commitment is one of the central objectives of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

The commission was established last September by the Norwegian prime minister, and co-convened with the presidents of Malawi, Chile, and Indonesia and the director-general of UNESCO. Its members, including five former presidents and prime ministers, three former finance ministers, six Nobel Prize winners, and three of the world’s most successful business leaders – Jack Ma, Aliko Dangote, and Strive Masiyiwa – will report their findings to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the co-conveners in September. On January 24, we met in London to chart the way forward.

The challenge is daunting. Some 60 million primary-school-age children have no access to formal education. Of the roughly 590 million who are attending school, some 250 million – roughly two in five – are failing to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. And some 60% of school pupils in developing countries do not meet basic mathematics standards.

If current trends persist, by 2050, children in most regions of the world will receive, on average, ten or more years of schooling – up from three years in 1950. Some countries in Africa, however, will lag far behind, with just 3-4 years of schooling on average. If we maintain a business-as-usual approach, it will take more than a hundred years – well into the twenty-second century – before every child is provided with an opportunity to complete his or her schooling.

Even as education levels play an increasingly important role in economic growth, the funds needed to raise them have failed to materialize. International development aid for education has fallen by nearly 10% in recent years – and government spending in low-income countries has failed to make up the difference.

In 2002, education accounted for 16% of total domestic spending in poor countries. Today, the figure is just 14%. Meanwhile, outlays for health increased from 9% to 11% of total spending. And, to make matters worse, in many of the countries with the greatest need for education – including Pakistan and Nigeria – governments are spending too little on it (sometimes as little as 2% of national income).

Nor is the money – when it is made available – spent equitably. In low-income countries, almost half of all education funds are spent on the most educated 10% of children. Very little trickles down to street children or boys and girls in remote rural areas, conflict zones, or urban slums.

According to UNESCO, the ratio of pupils to qualified teachers in the Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, and South Sudan is more than a hundred to one. And those teachers receive little support, encouragement, or feedback. Good teachers are undoubtedly the key to quality education; but they can do only so much if they are not provided with skilled supervision, a well-organized curriculum, and access to technology.

The phrase “universal education” will mean nothing if it does not apply to children living in huts, hovels, and refugee tents. When war or disaster strikes, the international community rightly mobilizes funding for food, shelter, and health care. All too often, however, financing education is only an afterthought. With refugees spending more than ten years away from home, on average, this neglect cannot be allowed to continue.

Fortunately, progress is being made in this area. In an exciting experiment in Lebanon, schools have been put on double shifts in order to accommodate the country’s Syrian refugee population. Local children attend in the morning, and in the afternoon, Syrian refugee children study in the same classrooms.

The program has been a stunning success, providing schooling for some 207,000 children who might otherwise have been deprived of an education. And plans are underway to expand the program to cover one million children in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. The biggest obstacle to what would be a spectacular achievement – as is so often the case – is a shortage of money.
It is to support efforts like this one that the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity was formed.

UNICEF leader Anthony Lake, UNESCO head Irina Bokova, and Global Partnership for Education Chair Julia Gillard have lent their support to a platform for the provision of education in emergencies, a proposal that I hope will be formalized at the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey in May. And it is my goal that by the end of the year we will also have a timetable to provide primary and secondary education to every child in the world – and the funding with which to achieve this most important of objectives.

Adapted from project-syndicate.

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This was an article on Education.

Have a great day.
Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
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23 Comments


  1. author purports global effort to increase primary secondary education is needed.
    challenges are daunting but gives Lebannon example that it is possible. however, money is issue but hopefully it’ll be solved.

    Reply

  2. Author supports universal education and lists challenges of establishing it before discussing some progress.

    Reply

  3. goal = free secondary education, difficult challenge, lack funding

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  4. Goal= Free education + raise more money
    Tone=positive for education

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  5. Every child = access to free education. Problem – no funds. Education in emergencies = can be done (ex. refugee kids in Lebanon).

    Reply

  6. MI: Goal = free education for all + tough to achieve

    Reply

  7. Amongst many challenges, lack of funding or financial support is the biggest issue in trying to provide the education to children. Author wishes to overcome this problem in the near future and hopes that every child will be provided with education.

    Reply

  8. goal: free education; obstacle to this being universal= funding/spending

    Reply

  9. This article’s purpose was to explain the shortcomings of today’s international education initiatives and prove to readers that the current system show insignificant progress when compared to the growing need. A plan put forth by the author seeks to find funding and build better infrastructure to provide universal education.

    Reply

  10. There is not enough money to provide free primary and secondary education on a global basis to every child in the world.

    Reply

  11. The Authors main idea is that children across the globe, especially in refugee areas and third-world countries, have limited access to education because of a lack of proper funding. Author argues that despite education being an important factor towards economic growth, governments are not spending enough and decreasing funding, international aid is falling, and teachers are not given enough support. However, progress is being seen in Lebanon where more children, including refugees, are being accommodated in flexible schedules but financing such programs continues to be a problem.

    Reply

  12. Providing primary and secondary education is a challenging yet critical task the author assumes the internation community has to encounter. The passage states the obstacles on why that is not yet possible, such as no funding or poor distribution of wealth by goverments, as well as a lack of qualified teachers and support. The Author proposes a new way of thinking, which can ultimately provide education to every child in the world.

    Reply

  13. universal edu = need + challenging (lack of funding, teacher support)

    Reply

  14. Need for good universal education. Challenges: low funds, low priority put on education, or funds distributed to educated children, few teachers and poor teacher support, refugees. Progress: schools double shifts, plan to expand but need funds.

    Reply

  15. MI: goal of Uni ed needs $/support to happen
    tone: neut

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  16. providing universal education for all children will be very challenging especially in times of war crises

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  17. MIP: efforts to bring education to all increasing; focus = how to pay for it

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  18. Author maintains that it is imperative that we provide universal education as soon as possible given that it will be even more challenging to do so in the future.
    No explanation given on why funding on education has fallen globally. Countries with the greatest need for education are not spending more of their GDP on financing education as well. Very little money trickles down to groups in need as education funds are not spread evenly across the population. In war-torn countries, education is not the primary concern for refugee children and the author feels strongly that more should be done in this regard, citing the example in Lebanon where Syrian refugee children are provided education together with their own populace.

    Reply

  19. MI: World pushing for universal education, difficult and progress is being made but need more money

    Reply

  20. MIP: need to spend more on equal education for all kids; tone = neutral

    Reply

  21. Author view: wishes for universal education for all, esp. in poor/disadvantaged countries
    Challenge: lack of funding, education put on lower priority

    Reply

  22. education /=/ universal, obstacle = $, group formed to address education challenges, program = success + expanding, proposal for education in emergencies, author = member of group + positive

    Reply

  23. MP: not everyone is educated because gov don’t provide sufficient funding for it and it is often overlooks, although there is a focus on it now, we still lack money
    Tone: + pro universal educaion

    Reply

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