1 in 3 adolescent girls from poor households never been to school: UNICEF

January 21, 2020

“Nearly 1 in 3 adolescent girls from the poorest households around the world has never been to school,” according to a new UNICEF paper launched at the Education World Forum. The reasons being poverty, discrimination due to gender, disability, ethnic origin or language of instruction, physical distance from schools and poor infrastructure. 

“Countries everywhere are failing the world’s poorest children, and in doing so, failing themselves,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. She also added, “As long as public education spending is disproportionately skewed towards children from the richest households, the poorest will have little hope of escaping poverty, learning the skills they need to compete and succeed in today’s world, and contributing to their countries’ economies.”

The paper ‘Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better financial education for the poorest children’ highlights major disparities in the distribution of public education spending. Limited and unequally distributed funding results in large class sizes, poorly trained teachers, a lack of educational materials and poor school infrastructure. This, in turn, has an adverse impact on attendance, enrolment, and learning.

With the data available of 42 countries, it was found that education for children from the richest 20 percent of households are allocated nearly double the amount of education funding than children from the poorest 20 percent of households.

10 countries across Africa account for the highest disparities in education spending while Barbados, Denmark, Ireland, Norway and Sweden are the only countries included in the analysis that distribute education funding equally between the rich and poor households.

The paper asked the government to prioritise public funding for lower levels of education, especially for children from the poorest households. “We are at a critical juncture. If we invest wisely and equitably in children’s education, we have the best possible chance of lifting children out of poverty by empowering them with the skills they need to access opportunities, and create new ones for themselves,” concluded Fore.

Source: UNICEF

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