Regional launch in Dakar of 2007 EFA Global Monitoring Report on Early ChildhoodMore than half the countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not have a formal programme for children under age three and participation in pre-primary education is less than 10%, according to the 2007 Education for All Global Monitoring Report published by UNESCO. The report will be presented on 27 November in Dakar, Senegal (Sofitel-Teranga Hotel) at 9:30 am, followed by a press briefing from 12:45 pm to 1:15 pm.
The Senegalese capital will host meetings from 27 to 30 November of some 80 experts, including several African ministers, to discuss the Report and strategies for developing early childhood care and education (ECCE) in Africa. Financing, links between education and poverty reduction, the development of national early childhood policies and international partnerships are among the themes on the agenda.
ECCE is considered a missing link in the education chain in many regions of the world. The Report finds that about half the world’s countries with data have no provision for children under three and that financing for early childhood programmes is also a low priority for donors, most of which allocate less than 0.5% of their education aid to this level.
ECCE concerns some 738 million children between the ages of 0 and 5 in 2005 − 11% of the world population. Programmes that combine nutrition, immunization, health, hygiene, care and education can significantly increase the well-being of young children, “especially in the developing world where (…) 10.5 million children die every year before reaching age 5 from preventable diseases,” as the Report observes.
Considerable progress has been made over the past three decades with a tripling in the number of children enrolled in pre-primary (44 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2004). The Report states that targeting resources to the most disadvantaged children should be the first step of a broader national early childhood care and education policy for all children. Citing the cases of Senegal and Ghana, it emphasizes that strong political endorsement at the highest level can have a considerable impact on the development of ECCE policies.
The Report also notes that the private sector plays a leading role in this field in sub-Saharan Africa. The role of for-profit actors, it states, “is controversial. Proponents say it increases competition and parental choice. Critics note that private providers operating outside the public system often exclude poor children.”
The Report also presents its annual assessment of progress towards the other Education for All goals. Participation in primary education increased by a sharp 27% in sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2004, with the number of children enrolled rising from 80 to 101 million. However, net enrolment ratios remain low (65% in 2004), while fewer than two-thirds of students reach the last grade. The region needs to recruit at least 1.6 million more teachers to achieve universal primary education by 2015, counting 40 pupils to one teacher.
The number of out-of-school children dropped by 12% from 1999 to 2004 (from 43 million to 39 million). Most countries unlikely to reach the EFA goal are located in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States and South Asia.
While two-thirds of countries in the world have reached gender parity in primary, disparities at the expense of girls remain significant in numerous countries in the region, such as the Central African Republic, Chad and the Niger.
With only 60% of literate adults, the region is among the three with the lowest adult literacy rates in the world, along with the Arab States and South and West Asia.
*The EFA Global Monitoring Report is an annual publication prepared by an independent team based at UNESCO. It monitors progress towards the six Education for All goals adopted in Dakar, Senegal in 2000:
1) expand and improve early childhood care and education
2) provide free and compulsory universal primary education by 2015
3) equitable access to learning and life-skills programmes
4) achieve a 50% improvement in adult literacy rates
5) eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and at all levels by 2015
6) improve all aspects of the quality of education
Journalists are invited to participate in the regional launch of the EFA Global Monitoring Report at 9:30 am at the Sofitel-Teranga, in the presence of the Minister of Education from Senegal, the director of UNESCO-BREDA and the director of UNICEF’s regional bureau for West and Central Africa. The report will not be presented at the press question and answer at 12:45 pm.