The Children Are in School, But Are They Learning?

There remains the serious concern that about 60 million children in the world are out of school. Both former and current secretaries of education in the Philippines have raised the importance of addressing out-of-school youth. There is, however, an equally serious plague in basic education. "More than 617 million children and adolescents are not achieving minimum proficiency levels (MPLs) in reading and mathematics, according to new estimates from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)." That is 6 out of 10 children who are in school and yet, are not learning. And in every region of the world, most children who are not learning are actually in school and not out of school.

Above copied from
UNESCO's Fact Sheet No. 46, September 2017, UIS/FS/2017/ED/46

There are about 75 million children from Eastern and South-Eastern Asia who fail to reach proficiency levels in math and reading. More than sixty percent of children in school in this region fail in math and reading. The Philippines belongs to this region. Since the Philippines falls behind most of the countries in this region (Singapore, Korea, China, Taiwan are among the top performing countries), one can assume that a significant number of these children comes from the Philippines.

The global distribution likewise shows inequity in education. One can see a similar poverty achievement gap by looking at the data in terms of poor and rich countries:

Above copied from
UNESCO's Fact Sheet No. 46, September 2017, UIS/FS/2017/ED/46

Truly, it is not enough to look simply at enrollment ratios. It is important to ask if our children are in fact learning in our schools. Lastly, the grip of poverty on basic education is indeed strong worldwide.


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