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Financial crisis could hit education of poor

The aftershock of the global financial crisis is threatening to deprive millions of children in the world’s poorest countries of an education.

Seventy-two million children are still out of school, according to the report, published by Unesco [the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization].

The study assesses progress towards the six Education for All goals to which over 160 countries committed themselves in 2000.

But a combination of slower economic growth, rising poverty and budget pressures could erode the gains of the past decade, it warned.

The 2010 report, titled Reaching the Marginalized, charts some striking advances in education over the past decade. For example since 1999 the number of children not attending school has fallen by 33 million – and more children are completing a full cycle of primary education.

But despite these gains the world is not on track to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015.

The report highlights the ongoing failure of governments to address extreme national inequalities and of donors to mobilise resources on the required scale. The authors estimate the annual financing gap for key education goals at $16 billion (SFr16.9 billion), a significant increase over previous assessments.

“Rich countries have mobilised a financial mountain to stabilise their financial systems and protect vital social and economic infrastructure, but they have provided an aid molehill for the world’s poor,” said the Global Monitoring Report’s director, Kevin Watkins, who spoke at a news conference in Bern on Wednesday.

Switzerland was called on to raise its level of development aid to 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product – as parliament has in vain asked the cabinet to do.

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