Is education a right or is it a privilege? Most of us would agree that it is a basic human right. So how big is the challenge to achieve this?
According to UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific, Cultural Organisation), although the number of out-of-school children and youth has declined globally from 374.7 million in the year 2000, approximately 263 million children of primary and secondary school age 6 – 17 years old were out-of-school in 2014. That’s a quarter of Europe’s population, staggering. “This number includes 61 million children of primary age (about 6 to 11 years), 60 million young adolescents of lower secondary school age (about 12 to 14 years), and 142 million youth of upper secondary school age (about 15 to 17).”
Global data suggests that the number of out-of-school children of primary age has not changed significantly in the last 5 years. However, “of the 61 million out-of-school children, 34 million or more than half live in sub-Saharan Africa” with South Asia having the second highest with 11 million. Out of the 10 regions highlighted in the study (Caucasus and Central Asia, Developed regions, Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern Africa, Oceania, South-Eastern Asia, Southern Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia), the female out-of-school rate was higher than the male out-of-school rate in Caucasus and Central Asia, Oceania, Southern Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia which had the highest gap. It was also noted that “more girls than boys will never go to school”.
“Six countries are home to more than one-third of all out-of-school children according to UIS data. Nigeria has 8.7 million out-of-school children of primary age followed by Pakistan (5.6million), India (2.9 million), Sudan (2.7million, Ethiopia (2.1) and Indonesia (2 million).” It is important to keep in mind that “Countries with large numbers of children out off school for which precise data are unavailable such as Afghanistan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are not presented. However, estimates for these countries are incorporated into the global figures”.
This highlights the urgency outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4, “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. A task that cannot be underestimated if our collective future generations are to be afforded their basic human rights and a task that calls for all people to fully engage in and support.
France is our eighth international migration hotspot. For education, children can attend non-compulsory Ecole Maternelle (Nursery school/kindergarten) education between the ages of 2 – 6 years before entering compulsory Ecole Primaire (primary school) education between the ages of 6 – 11 years. At the age of 11 children enter two phases of secondary education; the first being College (lower secondary school) between the age of 11 – 15 years at the end of which ‘brevet’, an end of year summary test is taken and Lycee (upper secondary), between the age of 15 – 18 years which can lead to general technology, vocational or professional baccalaureat (le bac) qualification and or progression.
The Ministry of Education provides a wide range of information about the education system and where information can be sought from locally.
Lesley Shepperson is Managing Director at Shepperson & Shepperson Consultants LTD. United Kingdom