About 250 million children worldwide are not learning even basic literacy and numeracy skills. One quarter of young people in poor countries cannot read a simple sentence. This global learning crisis is costing USD 129 billion a year. Thirty-seven countries lose more than half the funds invested in primary education because children are not learning in school. The most recent Education for All Global Monitoring Report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) concludes that competent teachers are key to improving the situation.
The report demands that states attract the best candidates into the teaching profession, guarantee good teacher training, allocate teaching jobs to regions where they are most needed and offer teachers incentives to ensure that they commit to a long-term career in teaching. Besides this thematic section, the report also shows what progress individual states have made in reaching the six Education for All goals that were adopted in Dakar. The report stresses that little progress has been made with respect to the goals of increasing adult literacy and improving the basic literacy and numeracy skills of young people. The report also recommends that the post-2015 development agenda, which replaces the Millennium Development Goals, include as a development goal a comprehensive learning and justice for all concept (children, young people, adults).
In Switzerland, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report was launched on 6 March at the Fribourg University of Education. The event was opened by SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden and Fribourg Director of Education Jean-Pierre Siggen. Fabienne Lagier of the Swiss Network for Education and International Cooperation, Professor Abdeljalil Akkari of the University of Geneva and a member of the Swiss National Commission for UNESCO, Pascale Marro, rector of Fribourg University of Education, and Valérie Liechti, education consultant at the SDC, subsequently discussed the report's recommendations.
SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden said in his speech: "In its regions of operation in Africa and Asia, the SDC also supports efforts to improve teacher qualifications, that is to say further education and vocational training for teachers, and thus also the quality of education." Mr Dahinden noted that the SDC has stepped up its involvement throughout the education sector, with a particular focus on the quality of local education systems. Cantonal Councillor Jean-Pierre Siggen considers the new education report to be extremely valuable, not only because it lays out the difficulties but also because it proposes ways to overcome them.
Switzerland helps fund the Education for All Global Monitoring Report and carries out, through the SDC, various education projects in Africa, Asia and the Western Balkans, as well as through Swiss Humanitarian Aid, e.g. in Jordan and Haiti. In 2012, it committed CHF 69 million to such projects.
Education means taking decisions on one's own, adapting to a continually changing environment and being able to live according to one's own ideas. That is why the SDC works in partner countries to ensure that all people exercise their right to education and are thus able to improve their lives. It wants to enable children, young people and adults to gain access to basic education – particularly socially disadvantaged groups such as women, ethnic minorities and people in rural areas who have so far been denied access to education. It also wants to help improve the quality and results of basic education.
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