Children in poor countries face many barriers to accessing an education. Some are obvious – like not having a school to go to – while others are more subtle, like the teacher at the school not having had the training needed to effectively help children to learn. Here we list 10 major barriers to education, and look at how the Global Partnership for Education is working to overcome them.
1. A lack of funding for education
Image: The Global Partnership for Education
While the Global Partnership for Education is helping many developing countries to increase their own domestic financing for education, global donor support for education is decreasing at an alarming rate. Total aid delivered for basic education has dropped for three years in a row, resulting in a 16% reduction between 2009 and 2012. Aid to basic education is now at the same level as it was in 2008. This is creating a global funding crisis that is having serious consequences on countries’ ability to get children into school and learning. The 59 developing countries that are GPE partners face a funding shortage of $34 billion over the next four years for primary and secondary education. Money isn’t everything, but it is a key foundation for a successful education system.
The Global Partnership is aiming to raise $3.5 billion in new investment from donor countries into the GPE fund, as well as increases in other aid to education, and is also asking developing country partners to pledge increases in their own domestic financing. If these pledges are made, GPE estimate that they can leverage a further $16 billion in spending by developing countries on education, aiming to close the global education funding gap.
2. Having no teacher, or having an untrained teacher
Plan UK: Lensa Kebede teaches her Kindergarten class in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
What’s the number one thing any child needs to be able to learn? A teacher of course. We’re facing multiple challenges when it comes to teachers. Not only are there not enough teachers globally to achieve universal primary education (let alone secondary), but many of the teachers that are currently working are also untrained, leading to children failing to learn the basics, such as maths and language skills. Globally, the UN estimates that 1.6 million additional new teachers are required to achieve universal primary education by 2015, and 5.1 million more are needed to achieve universal lower secondary education by 2030. Meanwhile, in one out of three countries, less than three-quarters of teachers are trained to national standards.
Since 2011 the Global Partnership for Education has helped to train over 300,000 teachers worldwide. With a successful replenishment, GPE can make teacher recruitment and training a top global priority for delivering quality education for all.
3. No classroom
Plan UK: Children in South Sudan learn under a mango tree after their school was destroyed by civil war.
This seems like a pretty obvious one – if you don’t have a classroom, you don’t really have much of a chance of getting a decent education. But again, that’s a reality for millions of children worldwide. Children in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are often squeezed into overcrowded classrooms, classrooms that are falling apart, or are learning outside. In Malawi, for example, there are 130 children per classroom in grade 1 on average. It’s not just a lack of classrooms that’s the problem, but also all the basic facilities you would expect a school to have – like running water and toilets. In Chad, only one in seven schools has potable water, and just one in four has a toilet; moreover, only one-third of the toilets that do exist are for girls only – a real disincentive and barrier for girls to come to school.
Since 2011 funding from the Global Partnership for Education has helped to build or rehabilitate 53,000 classrooms. If they receive the money they need from donors like the UK, the GPE can ensure that many more children are able to learn in a decent classroom.
4. A lack of learning materials
Plan UK: A girl in class in Mozambique.
Outdated and worn-out textbooks are often shared by six or more students in many parts of the world. In the United Republic of Tanzania, for example, only 3.5% of all grade 6 pupils had sole use of a reading textbook. In Cameroon, there are 11 primary school students for every reading textbook and 13 for every mathematics textbook in grade 2. Workbooks, exercise sheets, readers and other core materials to help students learn their lessons are in short supply. Teachers also need materials to help prepare their lessons, share with their students, and guide their lessons.
Between 2011 and 2014, the Global Partnership’s developing country partners are on track to distribute 55 million textbooks thanks to GPE support.
5. The exclusion of children with disabilities
Plan UK: A mother walks her blind daughter to school in Togo.
Despite the fact that education is a universal human right, being denied access to school is common for the world’s 93 million children with disabilities. In some of the world’s poorest countries, up to 95% of children with disabilities are out of school. A combination of discrimination, lack of training in inclusive teaching methods among teachers, and a straightforward lack of disabled accessible schools leave this group uniquely vulnerable to being denied their right to education.
Children with disabilities are one of the Global Partnership for Education’s priorities over the next four years. With a successful replenishment, the GPE will be able to work with its 59 developing country partners to promote inclusive education. The Global Partnership has pledged that by 2018, 80% of its partner countries will have explicit policy and legislation on education for children with disabilities.
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