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close this bookMeeting Basic Learning Needs: A Vision for the 1990s (UNICEF - UNDP - UNESCO - WB - WCEFA, 1990, 170 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
View the documentGlossary
close this folder1. Global Challenges and Human Development
View the documentA. Introduction
close this folderB. The Global Challenges
View the document(i) Economic stagnation and decline
View the document(ii) Economic disparities
View the document(iii) Marginalized populations
View the document(iv) Environmental degradation
View the document(v) Rapid population growth
View the documentC. Constraints on Human Development
View the documentD. The Role of Human Development in Addressing Global Challenges
View the documentE. Defining Basic Learning Needs
View the documentF. New Opportunities for Human Development
close this folder2. The Context and Effects of Basic Learning in the World
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentA. Basic Education Data
close this folderB. Indicators of the Context and Effects of Basic Education
View the document(introduction...)
View the document(i) Background characteristics
View the document(ii) Financial capacity
View the document(iii) Educational effort
View the document(iv) Educational effects
View the document(v) Social impacts
View the documentC. The State of Adult Basic Education
View the documentD. The State of Early Child Development
View the documentE. Progress and Prospects
close this folder3. An Expanded Vision of Basic Education for All
close this folderA. Shaping the Vision
View the document(introduction...)
View the document(i) Universalizing access and promoting equity
View the document(ii) Focussing on learning
View the document(iii) Broadening the means and scope of basic education
View the document(iv) Enhancing the environment for learning
View the document(v) Strengthening partnerships
close this folderB. Requirements for Implementing the Vision
View the document(i) Developing a supportive policy context
View the document(ii) Mobilization of resources
View the document(iii) Strengthening international solidarity
close this folder4. Meeting Basic Learning Needs: Analyzing Policies and Programmes
View the documentA. Introduction
View the documentB. Early Child Development
close this folderC. Meeting the Basic Learning Needs of Children
View the document(introduction...)
View the document(i) Increasing relevance
View the document(ii) Improving quality
View the document(iii) Promoting equity
View the document(iv) Enhancing efficiency
close this folderD. Meeting the Basic Learning Needs of Youth and Adults
View the document(introduction...)
View the document(i) Content and relevance
View the document(ii) Programmes and quality
View the document(iii) Effects and equity
View the document(iv) Monitoring and elf Liens
close this folder5. Strategies for the 1990s
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderA. Priority Action at National Level
View the document(introduction...)
View the document(i) Assessing needs, planning action and defining targets
View the document(ii) Creating a supportive policy environment
View the document(iii) Designing policies to improve basic education
View the document(iv) Improving managerial, analytical and technological capacities
View the document(v) Mobilizing information and communication channels
View the document(vi) Building partnerships and mobilizing resources
close this folderB. Priority Action at the Regional Level
View the document(introduction...)
View the document(i) Exchanging information, experience and expertise
View the document(ii) Undertaking joint activities
close this folderC. Priority Action at World Level
View the document(i) Status and prospects of external funding
View the document(ii) Concerted and sustained long-term support for national and regional actions
View the document(iii) Enhancing national capacities
View the document(iv) Consultations on policy issues
View the document(v) Co-operation within the international context
close this folderAnnex 1 - Basic Data
View the documentCountry Key
View the documentAnnex - Table 1: Background National Characteristics
View the documentAnnex - Table 2: Indicators of Financial Capacity
View the documentAnnex - Table 3: Indicators of Educational Effort
View the documentAnnex - Table 4: Indicators of Educational Process and Results
View the documentAnnex - Table 5: Indicators Of Social Effects
View the documentAnnex - Table 6: Participation in Adult Education
View the documentTechnical Notes
View the documentAnnex 2 - Financing Primary Schooling: An Analysis of Alternatives
View the documentAnnex 3 - Selected Bibliography
View the documentAppendix - World Declaration on Education for All
View the documentBack cover

E. Progress and Prospects

Since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights articulated the right of everyone to education, the nations of the world frequently have established specific targets to make the right a reality. The 1956 Lima meeting and the 1963 Santiago Conference of Ministers of Education focused on free and compulsory education in Latin America and the Caribbean; similar conferences in 1960 in Karachi and 1962 in Tokyo established the Asian model with goals of primary school gross enrolment ratios of 70 percent by 1964 and 90 percent in 1980. The Addis Ababa conference in 1961 affirmed the goal of universal primary education in Africa by 1980.

Ironically, the primary enrolments attained in 1970 and 1980 exceeded those projected by these UNESCO regional meetings, and yet universal primary education still was not achieved in many countries. The phenomenal growth of aggregate enrolments during the 1960s and 1970s was offset by rapid population growth and a widening divergence among the achievements of individual countries and geographical regions.

In the 1980s, Asia has consolidated its gains, and in the more developed countries emphasis has shifted from concerns with aggregate access to issues of achievement and equity for disadvantaged populations. In much of sub-Saharan Africa and in the least developed economies elsewhere, however, the 1980s have been a period of stagnation and, for some, a retreat from the goals of universal access.

The low-income economies (excluding China and India) have seen growth in primary enrolments fall from an average annual rate of 5.6 percent in 1975-80 to 2.7 percent for 1980-87. During this same period population growth increased annually from 2.7 percent to 3.4 percent on average and was accompanied by negative real economic growth rates for certain Sub-Saharan countries. Most middle-income countries maintained enrolment growth in proportion to population growth, but many faced mounting concern about the effectiveness of education (as measured in part by learning achievement) and the efficient utilization of funds. The lower-middle-income countries have not been able to maintain their 1975-80 enrolment growth rates into the 1980s, while the higher-middle-income countries have benefited from a decline in population growth rates that more than offset the slowing growth in enrolments.

According to UNESCO estimates, in 1985 approximately 105 million school-age children (six-eleven years old) were not participating in formal education. Of these, 70.2 percent were in the least developed nations and 60 percent were girls. If current trends continue, by the year 2000 the number of out-of-school children will almost double to approximately 200 million.

In summary, despite significant progress in the aggregate expansion of primary education, a growing number of children are not in school, nor ready when they do enter, the number of illiterate adults is increasing, and the unmet needs for basic knowledge and skills continue to accumulate. These needs are expanding so fast that many formal primary education systems do not have the capacity to meet them. Without significant changes, many nations will have to forgo improvements in educational quality, and some will be forced to accept deterioration. High rates of dropout and repetition of grades will continue to characterize many basic education programmes - symptoms of the overwhelming needs and the current inadequacy of resource provision.

The challenge for the future remains the assurance of access to an acceptable quality of primary education, of literacy training, and of basic knowledge and essential life skills for all children, youth, and adults. However, universal access to primary education alone by the year 2000 would require raising enrolment by more than 7.5 percent a year for the low-income countries (excluding China and India), 3.2 percent for the lower-middle-income countries, and 3.0 percent for the upper-middle-income countries. The current growth rates for the three categories are 2.8, 2.4, and 1.7 percent respectively. One fact is obvious, therefore: a linear expansion of current growth patterns will not be sufficient to meet the basic learning needs of all. Government, families, communities and nongovernment organizations will all need to do more.

For the economically advantaged economies, increased efficiency and the availability of new resources will better their chances of improving educational quality for all and extending basic learning opportunities more effectively to currently marginal populations. For a middle range of countries, substantial increases in efficiency and effort (in the context of economic growth) will allow them to concentrate more on reducing the inappropriate repetition of grades and the number of dropouts. These countries can work toward providing universal access to primary education, encouraging completion of the primary cycle and the achievement of an acceptable level of learning, and improving opportunities for youth and adults to attain literacy and the basic knowledge and skills their society requires.

Under projected patterns of economic growth, however, a third group of countries simply will not be able to meet basic learning needs for all with their own resources. Greater government fiscal support, the mobilization of family, community, and nongovernmental resources, and increased efficiency - even if all are achieved - will not provide sufficient resources. External assistance, substantial and sustained, will be required to allow these countries to join those in the more advantaged categories in meeting the basic learning needs for all.