Nigeria and Pakistan together could account for one third of the world’s children out of school by the year 2015, according to a report published on Tuesday by Unesco that highlights the “vast gulf” in education opportunities separating the developing and developed worlds.
At current trends, up to 7.6m children will not receive a basic education in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, by 2015, out of 29m globally, the Education for All report predicts. In Pakistan, 3.7m children will be out of school in the same year. “Both countries suffer from weak governance and high levels of inequity in finance and provision,” the report says.
Nigeria’s poor performance in school enrolment rates is in contrast to some other African countries, with fewer resources but with governments that have prioritised education. In Ethiopia, enrolment figures have surged as a result of steadily increased spending and rural school construction. Tanzania has achieved even more dramatic results, reducing the total number of children out of school to 150,000 by 2006 from 3m in 1999.
In Asia, a region marked by gender inequality, the report says Nepal has registered strong gains while in Bangladesh as many girls as boys reach secondary school.
However, the report blames “a combination of political indifference, weak domestic policy and the failure of aid donors to act on commitments” for the likelihood the world will fail to meet the goal of universal primary education by 2015. The financing gap is running at $7bn (€5.5bn, £4.6bn) annually, it says.
The authors also criticise donors who skew aid budgets towards higher education, singling out France and Germany as culprits.