United Nations lays down the benchmarks for education

The first report of the United Nations on the 17 Sustainable Development Objectives shows that, despite the progress made as regards quality educational opportunities, much more effort is needed, particularly as regards children.

One of the main conclusions of the report prepared by the UNESCO is that the probability of children attending school is lower if they live in rural areas, their families are poor or their parents have received little or no education. In 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 59 million children of primary school age and 65 million adolescents of lower secondary school age, mostly girls, had not received an education. However, some data give room for hope. In 54 of the 58 countries examined, at least half of the children between 3 and 4 years old were on track in terms of development in at least three of the following areas: literacy-numeracy, physical development, socio-emotional development and learning.

In higher secondary and third-cycle education, things are different. The number of students enrolled in technical vocational education and training (TVEP) increased by a third between 2000 and 2013, yet the uptake for TVEP alone fell from 26 to 22%. Enrolment in third-cycle education increased throughout the world and in developing regions the numbers have doubled, with a similar number of men and women enrolled.

But inequalities continue to exist. In 2013, there were 757 million illiterate adults and two thirds of this figure were women. And in only five of the 22 countries located in developing areas did at least 75% of young people reach the minimum levels of competence in reading and/or mathematics, which is much lower than in more developed countries.

These data show the need for specific actions in support of the most marginalized. To guarantee the identification of these groups and individuals, the UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics has presented the e-atlas, capable of providing all data relating to education. Among other functions, the map offers information on gender inequality, the relevance of teaching, security in the school setting and the number of adults that attend basic education programmes.