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Quality education as development tool

Apr 30, 2010, 3:52 PM

In a week where education advocates are calling for increased funding for education, a UNICEF expert recently stated that effective support for quality education, and to enable vulnerable children in poor countries to attend school are important investments that protect children's rights and promote countries' prosperity.

This year's Global Action Week on Education is focused on promoting proper financing for quality education, even during times of economic turmoil and crisis, as a means of promoting sustainable development of individuals and societies.

"It is crucial that donors and governments commit to placing children at the top of the development agenda and provide the resources and programmes that they need to develop to their full potential," said Susan Durston, UNICEF's Chief of Education.

"Providing all children with the best possible education is not just a moral obligation, it is an investment in our collective future," she said.

Clear gains have been made in education across the globe. Worldwide, nearly 80 per cent of primary-school-age children attend school. In least developed countries, the figure is around 66 per cent. Several countries have increased net enrolment rates and stand a good chance of achieving universal primary education by 2015. However, nearly 101 million school-age children are still not attending school. Five countries with the highest numbers of out-of-school children are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and they account for more than half of this figure.

"The number of girls who are out of primary school has also decreased, and in most countries gender parity in enrolment is on track. Yet, more than half of those not in school are girls. This is unacceptable," Susan added.

The repercussions of climate change, she noted, coupled with widening poverty gaps, natural disasters, conflicts, gender, disability and global recession on education, all require urgent and sustainable solutions that must be generated by a wide range of partners.

UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure that education remains a development priority and to support national policies that aim to provide access to school for all children in a safe, gender-sensitive environment.

"It is no secret that countries with higher education rates take a leap towards eliminating poverty, advancing sustainable development and stopping the spread and reducing the impact of HIV and AIDS," Durston concluded.