This post has been written by Lucía Rodríguez, team leader of the Core Group of the GIAN Network for the Right to Quality Education.
When I used to study in collegue a literary generation was described as a group of writers bonded by certain a ideology and style in a concrete time period – fifteen years aproximately-. In 2000, fifteen years ago, the General Secretary of United Natios, Koffi Annan, would state to the world that we were the first generation capable of ending with the world poverty. We had the means and skills to do it and every nation along with every significant international development organization came to a common political agreement, the Millennium Development Goals which will set up a serial of essential challenges such as extreme poverty reduction into half, combat HIV/AIDS and achieve universal primary education.
This would occur just a few months after those same countries had agreed in Dakar- Senegal, the Education For All Goals (EFA Goals). Fifteen years later, I am writing this post as I read the report “Education For All, 2000-2015: Achievements & challenges” that UNESCO has released today making an evaluation about what this generation has been capable of to guarantee the right to quality education for everyone.
The report, I assume that trying to rescue the silver lining, starts asssesing the improvements that have been achieved, and even if there are some, these have been that indifferent and insufficient that we can only think that this generation has failed one more time. During these fifteen years, for example, the number of children who have never gone to school has been reduced since some governments have increased public investment in education. However, as UNESCO Deputy Manager, Irina Bokova has mentioned, the report shows that the results are modest, that Education for All has not became a reality in the world- still only one third of the countries reached the six goals- and “we have to do a lot more to place quality education and life long learning at hand for everyone.”
The assessment shown by the report give us some numbers that make us think how urgent it is to take global action and give education the importance it deserves and that it has been denied for the last fifteen years:
- 47% of the countries has managed to entend and imporve primary children attention and education, specially in favour of those who are most vulnerable, but a 20% still stands a long way form achieving this goals.
- In the attempt to reach universalization of primary teaching, it is where we can find the greatest improvement. Half of the countries with which we have numbers have achieved universalization primary schooling. One third of these minors unschoolarized live in areas lashed by wars and conflicts.
- At world level, the number of scholars signed up in the secondary first term increased by 27%, while in Subsharian Africa the number was doubled. However, one third of the youngsters who live in low and medium income countries will not manage to finish the first term of secondary education.
Without a doubt, where there has been the least improvement is in adult literacy: 751 million youngsters over 15 years old and adults cannot read or write, two thirds of them being women. In 2000, this number increased up to 800 million.
- Education investment has increased but we must find urgently the way to cover the 22.000 million $ that means the education annual deficit to achieve pre scholar and primary education quality for every boy and girl in 2030.
Taking a look at these numbers we might be sceptical, discouraged or frustrated but we must never forget the responsability we all share as educators. 2015 is the assessment year but also it is the year to shape our next new international commitments that will make a reality the Right to Education for everyone and to face the challenges of poverty eradication, climate change fight and achieving a truly sustainable development for the following generations.
Two of the most important appointments where all our international leaders need to make commitments are up coming: the Corea World Education Forum 2015 in Incheon, Korea hosted by UNESCO in May and the World Assembly of the Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations headquarters in New York where some of the GIAN representatives will be attending to both of these international meeting to defend the excluded and the impoverished interests.
A few days ago, two old friends have reached me with messages full of hope and life. Yolanda from Honduras writes: “I believe that, in these times, keeping the hope in believing that things can change, people can change, it is not only an act of faith but of rebellion. And at least in that, I want to be a rebel.”
And Luis form Venezuela reminded “people don’t die or give up their dreams of free and dignified life. When we are doing as bad as now, some only see ashes of desolation and end up thinking that our people is subordinate to their challenges, that there is no solution. In their short- sightedness, they don’t appreciate that underneath the ashes there are embers waiting for an inspiring breeze that turns them into unstoppable fire.”
I still wait for justice, education for everyone and trusting in this generation, mine and ours, will be able to rebel and together we will meet the changes to reach a sustainable development starting from education.