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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
15-12-2003 11:30 am Education ministers from the group of nine high population countries (E-9), Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan, will meet in Cairo (Egypt) from December 19-21 to review their progress in providing quality education for all and their collaboration towards achieving this aim.

With 3.2 billion people, these countries account for more than 50 percent of the world’s population and 53 percent of the world’s school-age children. In addition, more than 40 percent of an estimated 104 million out-of-school children and 70 percent of more than 862 million illiterate adults are in these countries.

Although the annual population growth rate is decelerating in seven of the E-9 countries – Nigeria and Pakistan being the exceptions – their total population is still expected to reach 3.8 billion by 2015, the date set by more than 160 countries at the World Education Forum (Dakar, Senegal, 2000) to achieve quality Education for All (EFA). Their sheer size makes achieving EFA a particular challenge.

According to the recently released Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2003/4*, enrolment in pre-primary education has improved in all E-9 countries since 1990 (no data was available for Nigeria), but remains in most places accessible only to a minority of children. Growth was fastest in India, which saw pre-primary enrolments of three to five year-olds jump from 3.5 percent in 1990 to 25.8 percent in 2000. Mexico, where 77 percent of four to five year-olds attend pre-primary education, has the highest number of enrolments at this level, and Egypt the lowest, with only 12.5 percent.

Brazil and Mexico are at the point of achieving universal primary education, according to the Report, and China, Egypt and Indonesia all report that over 90 percent of all primary age children are in school. In Bangladesh and India, the proportion of children actually enrolled were respectively 90 percent and 87 percent, while Pakistan had only 60 percent of primary-age children in school. Nigeria has not reported any recent data.

Enrolments at secondary level also increased in all countries with data, except Pakistan, over the decade to 2000. More than 60 percent of secondary-age children – the average for developing countries - were enrolled in Brazil, China, Egypt and Mexico in 2000, states the Report. Lowest levels of enrolment were recorded in Pakistan, where 24.5 percent of children in this age group had access to secondary education.

Although enrolments have also increased at tertiary level in the E-9 countries, this level of education remains open to a small number of students only. Mexico has the highest number of tertiary students, with an enrolment rate of 21 percent.

This fifth meeting of the E-9 countries, co-ordinated by UNESCO, will focus especially on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). A meeting of experts in this field (Friday, December 19) will precede the ministerial sessions and present developments and trends in each of the E-9 nations.

Their meeting will be followed by the E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting (Saturday 20 and Sunday 21) which will review general progress in these countries towards Education for All and discuss future strategies for strengthening collaboration. The official opening will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 20. Speakers will include the Minister of Education of Egypt, Hussein Kamel Bahaa Al-Dine, President of AGFUND, Prince Talal Bin Abdel Aziz, UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the First Lady of Egypt, Suzanne Mubarak.

A communiqué presenting key outcomes and recommendations of the meeting will be issued by the participants at the close of their deliberations (5 p.m., Sunday, December 21).

* The EFA Global Monitoring Report is available online at www.efareport.unesco.org

Source Media advisory No 2003 - 107


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