|Contextualising Teaching and Learning in Rural Primary Schools: Using Agricultural Experience - Volume 1 - Education Research Paper No. 20 (DFID, 1997, 64 p.)|
|3. The state of primary school education in developing countries|
For many developing countries the goals of providing basic learning skills to all children, youths and adults, will not be met in the near future, but will continue to be a long-term challenge. At Jomtien, guidelines for implementing the World Declaration on EFA were prepared to provide a framework which could be used as a reference guide for governments, international and bilateral aid agencies, NGOs and others concerned with meeting the goals of EFA. The following areas were chosen to be targeted:
· expansion of early childhood care and developmental activities;
· universal access to, and completion of, primary education by the year 2000; improvement in learning achievement;
· reduction of the adult illiteracy rate;
· expansion of provisions of basic education and training in other essential skills required by youth and adults;
· increased acquisition by individuals and families of the knowledge, skills and values required for better living and sound and sustainable development, made available through all education channels including the mass media, other forms of modern and traditional communication, and social action, with effectiveness assessed in terms of behavioural change (Little, 1994).
In response to the declarations made at Jomtien, some bilateral and multilateral donors have increased their support to the education sector. In Germany for example, disbursements to basic education rose sixfold between 1992 and 1994, representing an increase in its proportion of aid to education from 6.5% to 38%. Drawing attention to the high returns on investment in primary and lower secondary education, the World Bank increased its lending for education from US$1.5 billion to US$ 2.1 billion between 1990 and 1994. The share going to this part of the education sector increased from 24% in fiscal year 1990 to 50% in fiscal year 1993. Between 1993 and 1994-1995, UNESCO increased the weight of basic education in its education programme from 26% to 47%. UNICEF's medium-term target is to boost spending on basic education to 25% of its regular resources from the current level of 10% (UNESCO 1996).
The World Bank recently published its priorities and strategies for education (1995), in which it states that the Bank is now the largest single source of external financing for education in developing countries. Primary and secondary education are increasingly important; in the fiscal period 1990-94 these levels represented half of all Bank lending for education. Bank programmes will encourage governments to give a higher priority to education and educational reform, particularly as economic reform takes hold as a permanent process. Basic education will continue to receive the highest priority in the Bank's education lending to countries that have not yet achieved universal literacy and adequate access, equity, and quality at that level. All projects will pay greater attention to equity -especially education for girls, for disadvantaged ethnic minorities and for the poor - and consequently to early childhood education. The World Bank highlights four major challenges which remain, however. These are the need to increase access to education in some countries, to improve equity, to improve quality and, in some cases, to speed up educational reform. In the case of basic education, the Bank stresses that a more efficient, equitable and sustainable allocation of new public investment on education would do much to meet the challenges that education systems face today.
A report by the International Commission on Education for the twenty-first Century (Delors et al, 1996) focuses heavily on what is termed "The Four Pillars of Education: learning to know; learning to do; learning to live together and learning to be". Together these pillars should interact to form the total learning experience, so that education is regarded as a total experience throughout life, dealing with both understanding and application and focusing on both the individual and the individual's place in society. The report emphasises that changes in education should start with changes in the aims of education and the expectations that people have of what education can provide. A broad encompassing view of learning should aim to enable each individual to discover, unearth and enrich his or her creative potential. The desire to develop imagination and creativity should result also in higher regard being paid to oral culture and knowledge derived from the child's or adult's experience.