Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All, a report produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and UNICEF, could not be more timely. As the international community renews its commitment to advance every child’s right to education, it explores why global progress has stalled since the early 2000s, when millions of additional children poured into the world’s classrooms, and provides the data and analysis needed to move forward and reach every child excluded from education.
With its rich combination of data and analysis, this report provides a nuanced assessment of why some children never make it into the classroom at all, why some children start going to school far later than others, and why some children are more likely than their peers to drop out before they complete their schooling. It reminds us—if any reminder were needed—of the critical need for good data to inform the educational policies that can reduce the barriers that continue to stand between children and their fundamental right to an education.
This report sets out some of those policies and strategies. They include a deeper focus on improving the quality of education so that children will be more likely to go to school and stay in school if the education on offer is fit for purpose. And, given the alarmingly high number of adolescents out of school — 63 million worldwide in 2012 — it advocates for universal secondary education, drawing from and building on the lessons learned since 2000 on universal primary education.
Finally, this report shows the children behind the numbers. The boy who pushes a cart each day in a Kyrgyzstan bazaar to help feed his family. The girl pulled out of school in Yemen and married off against her will when still a child. The child in Sri Lanka, humiliated at school for lacking proper shoes, who drops out altogether rather than be demoted to a lower grade. The Namibian child with an undiagnosed hearing impairment who struggles at school. The Syrian refugee child turned away from one over-burdened school after another.