By Emma Alias Enrech
At the beginning of each year, the United Nations posts a list of the sustainable development goals that the world has to come together to achieve. The goals address the global challenges that the world faces and are a draft to attain a better future for everyone. For these goals to have an impact in the future, the United Nations states that these goals should be obtained or be highly developed by 2030.
One of this goals is the quality of education around the world. The aim of this goal is to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. The reason why education is part of the 17 Development Goals is simple, as education is key to achieve other Sustainable Development Goals. As the United Nations reports the achievement of quality education will break the cycle of poverty, reducing at the same time inequalities.
Quality of education is different in each part of the world. The four regions where the education levels are the lowest are: Africa, Asia and Pacific, Latin American and the Caribbean and the Arab States.
In Africa, as a report from EuropaPress shows the percentage of literacy has increased in the continent, especially on the young generations. The 92,5% of youth in northern Africa knows how to write and read. On the other hand, this number falls in the Sub-Saharan Africa to a 70,8%. Not only this, but of all regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion. Over one-fifth of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of 12 and 14.
On another scale, the Asia and Pacific region had by 2014 a 90% enrolment in primary education. This figure has to be contrasted with the 136 million children that were still out of school in that same year. The gross enrolment ratio for pre-primary education in Asia and the Pacific was 43,1% in 2013, slightly lower than the global average of 43,3% on that same year. But the problem that this region suffers is not only the quantity of students enrolled in school but the quality of their education.
The OECD, Programme for International Student Assessment, shows the educational outcomes based on each educational system. When this program was tested in the Asia and Pacific region, it showed that of the 16 Asia-Pacific countries tested, 10 seemed to achive better-than-average results, with around 80% of students possessing the minimum levels of proficiency in mathematics and reading.
In the other six countries, between 31% and 49% of students met the minimum standards in mathematics and 45% to 63% in reading. The number showen above suggests that these systems are not preparing the majority of students well for the basic knowledge skills that are required for continuous learning.
Regarding Latin America and The Caribbean, the proportion of kids and teenagers that do not reach the minimum requirement of maths and reading is around a 52% in mathematics and 36% in reading. Additionally, Latin America and The Caribbean have a 30,6% of teenagers not enrolled in school who should be in secondary school.
The TERCE (Tercer Estudio Regional Comparativo y Explicativo), a study that measures the education achievements attained by a region in their 3rd and 6th grade, shows how one out of four students is able to obtain the six basic categories. These six basic categories are the following: classroom equipment, multipurpose space, office areas, pedagogical areas, connection to services and water and sanitation.
Last but not least, in 2012 the Arab States recorded an average gross enrolment ratio (GER) in pre-primary education of a 25%. This enrolment ratio increases when living in rural areas and due to gender disparities. Significant gender inequalities remain in Djibouti, Sudan and Yemen, where less than 90 girls were enrolled in primary school, compared to 100 boys in 2012 despite progress in these countries. Therefore, the Arab States are particularly involved in the abolishment of this gender gap, especially after the formulation of the Dakar Framework for Action in 2015.
“Ensuring that by 2015 all children,particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality” – Goal 2, of the Dakar Framework for Action
Governments and NGOs are involved in programs and projects all over the world to develop quality education programs. Apart from being one of the 17 sustainable development goals, other organizations such as the UNESCO report yearly on the advances that the countries have achived in different aspects. Not only this, but NGOs and volunteering agencies offer the possibility to enter programs to volunteer as a teacher in orphanages or schools in underdeveloped countries.
Those volunteers go and help as much as they can and teach kids everything they know. But at the end of the day the kids are not the only ones learning out of this experience. Rocio Romero, a Spanish youtuber, narrates her story volunteering as a teacher in Uganda.She expresses how she saw the happiness of those who did not have as many resources as Spanish kids. The experience did not only involve teaching them maths, reading or English, but also lifestyle skills that will improve their way of living.
“Te llevas muchisimo mas de lo que dejas ahi” – Rocio Romero
“You take a lot more than what you leave there” – Rocio Romero
The development of quality of educational programs, which include both literacy and health, will lead to an educational progress in the short run and a life progress in the long run.