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Minister O’Sullivan launches Global Monitoring Report on Education in Developing Countries

Irish Aid, Press Releases, Ireland, 2011

The number of children attending primary school in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by one third in the past ten years, according to an international report launched by Minister of State for Trade and Development, Jan O’Sullivan, in Dublin today.

The Global Monitoring Report, published by UNESCO, shows that an additional 52 million children worldwide enrolled in primary school between 1999 and 2008.  In sub-Saharan Africa - where Ireland’s overseas aid programme is focused - primary enrolment increased by more than 30%.

Speaking at the launch of the report today, Minister O’Sullivan, who has just returned from a five-day visit to Malawi and Mozambique, said:

“Ireland recognises the pivotal role education plays in improving lives in the developing world. Children who are educated have a far better chance of staying healthy, gaining employment and realising their potential as active citizens of their country over the long-term.”

“I am particularly pleased to note that the number of children enrolled in primary school in the eight sub-Saharan countries where Irish Aid works has risen by more than 7 million since 2000. This shows that targeted partnerships between donors such as Ireland and the Governments of these countries are yielding excellent results.”

“Education is key to unlocking the potential of millions of children across the globe. It is for this reason that Ireland focuses 13% of our aid on programmes to improve school attendance – particularly by girls – and also the quality of the education they receive. This is significantly more than the international average and reflects Ireland’s own experience of how improvements in education can change a country’s course.”

However, she cautioned that hunger remains a serious obstacle to improving progress in education. The report shows that one third of children under the age of five in developing countries are malnourished. Malnutrition is proven to seriously impair children’s cognitive development and their educational prospects.

“Tackling hunger is at the centre of our development programme. A child who is hungry is less likely to learn or to remain in school.  We must continue to make progress in improving health and nutrition, increasing families’ resilience to shocks and tackling HIV and AIDS – all of which have implications for progress on education.” 

The Minister referred to her recent trip to Malawi where she visited a farming project in Dedza. The majority of the farmers told her that paying their children’s school fees and buying school supplies was their priority when deciding the family budget.  During her visit to Mozambique, the Minister saw how Irish Aid support is providing secondary students in the isolated north western province of Niassa with a chance to realise their potential.

Minister O’Sullivan also announced today that €100,000 will be provided to the Global Monitoring Report team for their ongoing work in researching and reporting on global progress towards achieving the six ‘Education For All’ goals, adopted by the international community in 2000.  

For further information or to request an interview with Minister O’Sullivan, please contact Fionnuala Quinlan, Press Officer, Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 01-4082653 or 087-9099975.

 

Note for editors:

  • Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
  • The Education For All Global Monitoring Report is an independent publication commissioned by UNESCO on behalf of the international community to track progress on achieving the Education For All goals.
  • In Dakar, Senegal in 2000, at the World Education Forum, over 160 countries committed to achieving six Education For All Goals (including MDG 2 and 3) by 2015.
  • Highlights from the 2011 report, which is focused on children in armed conflict, include the following:
  • From 1999 to 2008, an additional 52 million children enrolled in primary school. In sub-Saharan Africa, enrolment ratios rose by one-third despite a large increase in the primary school age population.
  • Gender parity in primary enrolment has improved significantly in the regions that started the decade with the greatest gender gaps.
  • Hunger is holding back progress. In developing countries, 195 million children under 5 – one in three – experience malnutrition, causing irreparable damage to their cognitive development and their long-term educational prospects.
  • The quality of education remains very low in many countries. Millions of children are emerging from primary school with reading, writing and numeracy skills far below expected levels.
  • Education systems in many conflict-affected countries are not providing youth with the skills they need to escape poverty.
  • The wrong type of education can fuel violent conflict. Education has the potential to act as a force for peace – but too often schools are used to reinforce the social divisions, intolerance and prejudices that lead to war.