Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Saturday 20 December  
School in India -  UNESCO/GMR Akash
Paris, France
Paris, France

UNESCO: Financial crisis threatens education

Published on : 19 January 2010 - 11:35am | By
More about:

The financial crisis threatens to cut education levels worldwide, a UNESCO report says. As impoverished nations try to balance budgets in the face of sagging economies, any hope of reaching the Millennium Development Goals for education could be dashed.

by Jan Huisman

The fundamental goal is to get all the world’s children into primary education by 2015, says Kevin Watkins, Director of the 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report released on Tuesday. Real progress was made during the first decade of the 2000s and this was the only Millennium goal with even a chance of being realised. But the aftershocks of the West’s financial crisis rippling through developing nations are now threatening that progress.

Some 71 million children around the world are not in school today, according to the report. In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, this presents a significant handicap for future job opportunities. And as governments in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, come to terms with declining revenues because of the economic downturn, Mr Watkins says spending per primary school pupil could fall by 10 percent.

“Now when you bear in mind you’re talking about a context in which many kids are sitting in classrooms with no books, no blackboard, no pencils, no chairs, no tables: that has really serious consequences. And the point that we make in the report is that these kids did not create that crisis, and they shouldn’t have to pay for it with their one-off chance for an education.”

Not rocket science
Mr Watkins points to the progress made in a country such as Tanzania which has sent an extra three million children to school since 2001. Bangladesh eliminated gender disparity in education, he says, while India brought down the number of children not in school by 15 million in just two years earlier this decade. These successes all demonstrate that it’s not a lack of effective policy limiting the advancement of education – but a lack of finances.

“What the government of India has shown is that if you scale up investments in the areas where it’s most needed – you build the schools, you train the teachers, you equip the schools – you can actually achieve breakthroughs pretty quickly. None of this is rocket science, but unfortunately it’s a systematic neglect of policies that we know can work, that has left us where we are today.”

Paradox in Latin America
“Extraordinary progress” was also made in recent years in Latin America, Mr Watkins said, citing Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia as examples where cash incentives have led many poor families to keep their children in school. But Latin America is a paradox, he added, as education levels also reflect an enormous regional and social inequality.

“If you look at a country like Mexico, there’s a very big gap between the best-performing parts of the country in the North and in Mexico city – where on average young kids can expect around 8 or 9 years in education – and the southern poverty belt states like Oaxaca and Chiapas, where over 40 percent of indigenous girls from the poorest rural households are getting less than 4 years in school.”

Latin American nations must specifically target impoverished areas far more quickly than is happening today, Mr Watkins said.

Financing gap
While some Western nations have increased aid commitments despite the downturn, others are cutting back on donations. But even if overall aid rose, it still wouldn’t cover the effects of the downturn for poor governments, Mr Watkins says.

“We’re calling on rich countries and international financial institutions to increase the scale of concessional aid financing, in order that governments in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have to make choices between financial stability on the one side, and the education of children on the other.”

The UN estimates losses for sub-Saharan Africa will exceed 40 billion dollars in the coming fiscal year. And at current rates, 50 million children will still be out of school in five years from now, a scenario Mr Watkins calls “a full-scale human development crisis.”

Photo: School in India -  UNESCO/GMR Akash



mind_sweeper 4 September 2011 - 5:36pm

I am involved in a management research program for the time being and I am interesting in any relevant bibliography I can come up with. Thanks to your website, I have come across some fundamental reference for the topics I am researching on. My research is focusing on latest trends in management and any measurable effects as far as productivity and business progress are concerned. I am even open to offers for those who sell books on anything concerning my research topic.

Vernon 27 July 2011 - 5:46pm

Education policies should be based on realities.Wealth disparities, developmental imbalances between urban and rural areas and the huge rural migrant population should all be considered when forming education policies.Practical education should be an aspect emphasized.The possibility of online training offers an edge when it comes to this problem.Courses like 'Construction Safety' and 'General Industry Training'that stress the practical aspect,available on,could be a solution in these days.

RuthParker 21 July 2011 - 1:30am

Unfortunately the crisis is affecting not only the education system,but further more the job market and the careers of people. Due to the financial crisis many of these people are in one occupation for other purposes rather than making it a lifetime career.Education, current earnings level and apprenticeship skills training among others are statistically significant variables affecting career aspiration.Provision of commensurate employment for the educated youths and relaxing capital constraints for those with previous skills training is very important.Education and career training are two important aspects that should be invested in to avoid diminishing the quality of work market.

rubby 8 December 2010 - 1:40pm

The financial crisis affected everything in one way or another, I don't think people are surprised in any way that the education was affected too. I am confident thought that the world wide education plans will go on and that the current projects are being continued, education is one of the best "assets" a nation can have.
Rubby - bookkeeping courses

gwane 11 February 2010 - 6:38am

I can't wait to have another new movies that is also aSuperman reboot film. Granted, the last one left a bit to be desired, but at least they got Christopher Nolan, supposedly, to direct it. (You never know what isn't slated for development hell.) If he DOES make one, there's a good bet it will make up for the last one – as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight made up for those two lousy Schumacher films.

jasmin 19 January 2010 - 11:58am / India

Yes, India has indeed done a great job in education and health for all, in the past few years. There is Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan- Education for all, project and National Rural Health Mission. Both these projects have brought education and health at the doorstep, with plenty of incentives like mid-day meal, free education, book & uniforms, school health treatment for all kinds of diseases including rheumatic heart surgeries. There is a project-AIE-Alternative Innovative Education centres-AIECs put a check on high drop out rates and provide primary education to children residing in tribal and far-flung villages where the communities don’t have access to school facilities. see the link-

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...