The 70-year wait for primary school
It will be more than 70 years before all children have access to primary school, says a report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). The report says 57 million remain without schools and at the current rate it will be 2086 before access is reached for poor, rural African girls. This means that the five-year-olds who are now missing out on beginning school will be grandmothers before universal primary education is achieved. The lack of education for all and the poor quality of many schools in poorer countries is described as a “global learning crisis”. In poor countries, one in four young people is unable to read a single sentence. There are practical barriers to learning; in Tanzania, only 3.5% of children have textbooks and there are overcrowded class sizes of up to 130 pupils in Malawi. The study calls for more support in raising the quality of teaching. In west Africa, it warns of too many teachers who are on low pay, temporary contracts and with little training. The quantity of teachers would also need to be increased, with an extra 1.6 million needed to provide enough primary school places.