Parents throughout developing countries are frustrated by the staggering 40 percent of primary-school-age children who are unable to read, write, or do basic math by fourth grade, according to a new report.
Save the Children released the report, "Right to Learn," this afternoon at the United Nations during a presentation co-sponsored by Women Thrive Worldwide, UNICEF, the UN's Global Education First Initiative, UNESCO, ASER Pakistan, and the Center for Universal Education at Brookings Institution. The report's insights come as the global community considers next steps to the UN's Millennium Development Goals – the world's largest anti-poverty effort ever – which expire in December 2015.
The current set of goals have led to record numbers of girls and boys attending school, but learning outcomes in many areas remain grossly inadequate for preparing students to reach their professional aspirations as adults. Parents and advocates from India to Zimbabwe report high teacher absenteeism, overcrowded classrooms, poor facilities, lack of books and more.
"We are facing a real and global crisis in learning," said Meredy Talbot-Zorn, global development manager at Save the Children and co-author of the report. "Parents are frustrated. Right now, we are failing them, and failing children."
"This is a call to action for anyone who cares about the world's children," said Laura Henderson, director of education policy at Women Thrive Worldwide, and a reviewer of the report. "This report brings parents' concerns directly to the world leaders who will shape education priorities around the world."
The report shows that while parents expect their children to learn basic skills at school, they face many barriers for holding schools, service providers and government accountable. The report also cites several country examples of where parents and stakeholders are working together to improve accountability for children's progress in learning and getting positive results.
The findings of the report are based on qualitative research in seven countries, including Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
"When the current Millennium Development Goals were being created, parents and advocates from developing countries were largely left out from being able to provide input," continued Henderson. "That can't happen again. World leaders need to be accountable to parents for the quality of education that their children receive."
Save the Children has included six recommendations for UN institutions and member states to get education and learning for children right:
"There's just too much at stake for decision-makers not to listen to parents and advocates in developing countries about what needs to be done to improve education and learning for the world's children," said Talbot-Zorn.
"When we went out of the house, my father was hit by a collapsed wall. There was blood everywhere. I tried to wake him up but he wasn't moving anymore. The water got even higher and I wanted to carry my father with the tide but I thought we would both die.
I was scared and crying.
I swam and swam and every time I was tired I would cling to a log. Then I would swim again. It was a miracle that I survived.
When I was swimming, the rain felt like needles on my face. I was very afraid for my mother and siblings as well as I thought they were all dead."
Drifting through the village, Rafael finally fell asleep.
"When I woke up it was a miracle because I was in another village and I saw some of my friends."
He began walking to the evacuation center to meet with his family. The first thing he told his mother when he got there was that his dad had died and they both cried together.
His mother told him that they had been through similar things on their way out. They have a baby and one of the youngest children is disabled with slow mental and physical development.
"Dad was really protective and generous. Although we are poor, he would always make sure that he would bring something home to us after work. Whenever he prepared his coffee he would share half of the cup with me."
They are now living in a van outside the center as they cannot stand the stench inside.
"We are getting sick, my siblings are always coughing because it is very cold and we don't have any dry clothes at the moment. We don't have anything with us.
The problem is that they have two baby siblings and they don't have water. They are drinking water from a water hose and it is not clean."
Save the Children is responding to Typhoon Haiyan. Please donate to our GlobalGiving project for typhoon relief
Children were the face of a record year of disasters in the United States. That's why Save the Children has produced our annual America’s 2013 National Report Cardon Protecting Children in Disasters. This year's report focused on how unsatisfactory gaps in prepardness put children at risk before disaster strikes.
Did you know?
• 28 states and the District of Columbia still fail to meet minimum standards to protect children recommended by the National Commission on Children and Disasters.
• 17 states don’t require child care providers to have an evacuation plan.
• 16 states don’t require child care providers to have a family reunification plan.
• 24 states don’t require child care providers to have a plan for children with disabilities or with access and functional needs.
• 6 states and the District of Columbia don’t require schools to have a disaster plan that addresses multiple types of hazards.
• Schools and child care centers are often not required to practice emergency plans regularly.
• Families are often not well-informed about reunification plans or asked to update emergency contact information.
• Emergency responders often have no official registry of child care centers to facilitate plans to reach all children.
• State and community emergency plans often fail to adequately account for the needs of children.
Find out if your state makes the grade and how you can better prepare your family for disasters and emergencies at Get Ready. Get Safe.
Salif* lives in Mali, but sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon in many nations around the world. The United Nations defines an attack as any intentional threat or use of force directed against students, teachers, education personnel and/or education institutions, carried out for political, religious or criminal reasons.[i] Nearly 50 million children and young people in conflict zones face these unnerving barriers to education every day, keeping them out of school and preventing them from reaching their true potential.
On July 12, 2013, youth delegates from around the globe met at the United Nations in New York City to fight for a quality education for all children, even those living in areas of war and conflict. They were joined by children like Malala, a Pakistani school girl and education activist whose only ‘crime’ was a desire to learn when she was shot and gravely wounded by armed men on her way back from school.
Sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon. The number of recorded attacks on education has increased in recent years. Global reports show these confrontations and acts of violence are widespread in a number of on-going conflicts. Based on UN data, Save the Children estimates that there were more than 3,600 separate, documented attacks on education in 2012.[ii]
Save the Children is calling on world leaders to tackle this crisis and commit to the following:
To learn more, read our report, Attacks on Education: The Impact of Conflict and Grave Violations on Children's Futures.
[i] See Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), What Is an Attack on Education?; UNESCO, Education Under Attack 2010, Paris, 2010, see pg 23-28[ii] UNESCO, Institute of Statistics and Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA-GMR), Schooling for millions of children jeopardised by reductions in aid, UIS Factsheet No. 25, June 2013
Every year, our State of the World’s Mothers report reminds us of the inextricable link between the well-being of mothers and their children. As any mother – myself included – will tell you, our children’s health and safety is the most important thing in our lives. And we know that a strong and empowered mother is the best champion a child will ever have. More than 90 years of experience have shown us that when mothers have health care, education and economic opportunities, both they and their children have the best chance to survive and thrive.
But many are not so fortunate. Every year, 287,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth, and 6.9 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday. Almost all these deaths occur in developing countries where mothers, children and newborns lack access to basic health care. While child mortality rates have declined in recent decades, 19,000 mothers still mourn the loss of a child each and every day – an unthinkable number of heartbreaks. This is especially tragic since most of these deaths could be prevented at a modest cost.
This year’s report looks at the critical first day of life, when mothers and their newborns face the greatest threats to survival, and when there is tremendous opportunity to save lives. It highlights approaches that are working to bring essential health care to the hard-to-reach places where most deaths occur. And it shows how millions more lives each year can be saved if we invest in proven solutions and help mothers do what’s best for their children. If we don’t save lives on this critical first day, we will never truly end preventable child deaths.
Please read the Take Action section of this report and join me in doing what any mother would do: put the well-being of children first.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.