Achieve Universal primary education

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1 Goal 2. Achieve Universal primary education 2.1. Introduction The second Goal proposed in the Millennium Summit reflects the commitment adopted by the international community to achieve universal primary education as a way to promote equality and social inclusion, reduce extreme poverty, and to make progress in achieving a wide range of economic, social, and cultural rights for all children worldwide (P. Villatoro, 2007) 1. MDG 2 has one single Target 2A (formerly Target 3) which calls for children everywhere, boys and girls alike to be able to complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015,. In order to achieve this Goal, the United Nations has urged the countries to commit resources to primary education, to tailor education to the specific needs of the countries, in particular by focusing on the poorest population, and to promote programs for school feeding as to motivate school attendance. It is important to mention that primary education is mandatory in all countries in the region, thus reflecting the importance countries place on this goal and the concern in adequately monitoring the target. Target 2A includes 3 indicators; the first one refers to the enrolment rate; the second indicator measures completion; and the third indicator refers to the literacy rate of young people (from 15 to 24 year-olds, men and women). Additionally, ECLAC has proposed a number of supplementary indicators which might be useful to monitor this goal in Latin American and Caribbean countries considering the new challenges the region faces. The areas covered by the indicators proposed include literacy in adults, pre-school education, and secondary education. 1 For revision of the analysis and proposal from ECLAC on MDG2, see Pablo Villatoro, Hacia la ampliación del segundo objetivo del milenio. Una propuesta para América Latina y el Caribe (Towards an extension of the second Millennium Goal. A proposal for Latin America and the Caribbean). Serie Políticas Sociales Nº 132, CEPAL (Abril, 2007); and Pablo Villatoro, Propuesta de ampliación del segundo objetivo de desarrollo del Milenio: un estado de avance (Proposal of extension of the Second Millennium Development Goal: status of progress). Serie Estudios Estadísticos y Prospectivos Nº 62, CEPAL (December, 2007). 1

2 Consolidated list of targets and indicators Goal 2 Type of N Indicators name indicator Target 2.A: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling Official 2.1 Net enrolment ratio in primary education Official 2.2 Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary (2a) Official 2.3 Literacy rate of year-olds, women and men Illiteracy rate of population aged 15 years and over, by sex Net enrolment ratio in last grade of pre-primary education Percentage of school attendance in last grade of pre-primary education of the population at the official pre-primary entrance age Percentage of conclusion of low secondary education of population aged between Net enrolment ratio in upper secondary education Percentage of attendance to upper secondary education of pupils at the corresponding school age Literacy rate of population aged 25 and over Percentage of primary conclusion of population aged 25 and over 2.2. Progress Evaluation on MDG 2 in Latin America and the Caribbean Official indicators corresponding to MDG 2 first consider the enrolment rate in primary education. The situation in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of primary education is favorable as in recent decades the region has experienced a significant increase in the enrolment rate. As seen in Chart 1, the region on average raised the enrolment rate from approximately 86% in 1991 to almost 94% in 2006, even balancing the corresponding ratio for men and women in the present decade. 2

3 Chart 1 (indicator 2.1) Evolution of net enrolment ratio in primary education Latin America and the Caribbean. Both men and women 1991, 2000, Both sex Men Women As shown in Chart 2, some countries like and experienced significant progress in the education coverage between 1991 and Most countries in the region currently have enrolment rates of over 85%. 3

4 Chart 2 (indicator 2.1) Net enrolment ratio in primary education Latin American and Caribbean countries. Both men and women. 1991, (% ) LAC Uruguay Argentina a/ Saint Lucia Belize Suriname Honduras Barbados Bolivia Brazil a/ Paraguay a/ Saint Kitts and Nevis Venezuela (Bolivarian Rep.of) Saint Vincent and the Grenadines a/ Jamaica a/ Bahamas Trinidad and Tobago a/ Grenada c/ Notes: a/ 2006 data pertains to year 2005 The second official indicator refers to completion of primary school and determines the proportion of pupils entering the first year of primary school and reaching the last year of the cycle. Chart 3 shows the situation of Latin American and Caribbean countries which while showing progress do not ensure universal completion of primary school. 4

5 Chart 3 (indicator 2.2) Percentage of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary 22 Latin America and the Caribbean countries. Both men and women 2000, Chile a/ b/ a/ Barbados Aruba Uruguay Belize Costa Rica Venezuela ( Bolivarian Repub.) a/ Dominica Argentina c/ Paraguay c/ Bolivia b/ Brazil b/ Notes: a/ 2000 data pertains to year 1999 b/ 2005 data pertains to year 2003 c/ 2005 data pertains to year 2004 Also, as data from UNESCO shows, 4.5 million people between the ages of 15 and 19 years have not completed primary school. The information also claims that the greatest challenges in this area are more prominent in some countries of Central America (UNESCO, 2007) 2. The third official indicator refers to the literacy rate of 15 to 24 year-olds. At present, this rate is greater than 95% in most of the countries in the region and has been increasing since 19 to date (see Chart 5). 2 Situación Educativa de América Latina y el Caribe: Garantizando la Educación de Calidad para Todos (Situation of the Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Ensuring Quality Education for All). UNESCO, August

6 Chart 4 (indicator 2.3) Literacy rate of years-old, women and men Latin American and Caribbean countries Bolivia Argentina Chile Uruguay Costa Rica Brazil Paraguay Honduras Haiti Men Women Moreover, with some exceptions, there are additional values for men and women as shown in Chart 4. 6

7 Chart 5 (Indicator 2.3) Literacy rate of population aged years 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Progress Argentina Chile Bolivia Costa Rica Brazil Paraguay Honduras This last indicator along with the enrolment rate and student completion of primary school is considered essential to achieve greater levels of equality in the countries in the region. Both these indicators respond to educational deficiencies which limit the populations future possibilities of attaining employment, income, and quality of life, thus generating deep inequities and inequalities in society. Nevertheless, due to the level of development and particularities of the countries of the region, there is no consensus on whether official MDG indicators are the most appropriate or that they sufficiently can measure this Goal. ECLAC proposed a number of supplementary indicators that could better describe the situation of the countries of the region in this context. While the situation of education varies from country to country, it is know that some countries exhibit a high coverage for primary education. Such coverage does not ensure per se improvement of life conditions or overcoming of poverty. Thus, the proposal from ECLAC considers, for instance, literacy of adult population. A line of discussion takes into account how important to identify those individuals who do not benefit from the progress made in the education that is covered and who lack the basic tools in terms of reading, writing, and mathematic skills, skills which are necessary to have an appropriate performance in the current world. 7

8 Also, the importance of leveling cognitive and non-cognitive skills from pre-school age is stressed as important as to achieve equal opportunities in the future. In this regard, the need of having information available about education coverage for children in pre-school age is acknowledged. 95 Chart 6 ( Indicator) Net enrolment ratio in pre-primary education 25 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Progress Aruba British Virgin Islands Guyana Barbados Uruguay Trinidad and Tobago Argentina Cayman Islands Venezuela (Bolivarian Repub.) Saint Lucia Brazil Bolivia Belize Paraguay Honduras Chart 6 illustrates, with some exceptions, that Latin American and the Caribbean countries have been able to raise the enrolment rate for pre-primary education during the present decade. However many of the countries still show very low rates in terms of coverage. Another area of education identified by ECLAC as priority in monitoring MDGs is the enrolment rate for secondary education. As the need of completion of primary education is stated, also important is preventing school drop-outs during the subsequent stages of education. This is a rather a common situation in the countries in the region as the rate of students returning to school during this stage has been confirmed as very low and only increases in tertiary education. 8

9 Chart 7 ( Indicator) Net enrolment rate in upper secondary Latin America and the Caribbean countries. 2000, Dominica British Virgin Islands Barbados Saint Kitts and Nevis Bahamas Brazil Argentina Jamaica Aruba Saint Lucia Belize Trinidad and Tobago Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Venezuela (Bolivarian Repub.) As shown in Chart 7, while is true that the countries have raised the enrolment rate in secondary education, the situation is different to primary school. In half of the cases the rate does not exceed 70%. Some of the outstanding challenges in education as well as other gaps identified are not only related with the household socio-economic situation but also with the place of residence and the ethnic group of origin. Thus, poorest individuals living in rural areas who descend from African or First Peoples show lower levels of access to and completion of the different levels of education (P. Villatoro, 2007). The Regular Progress Report on MDGs 2008 strongly emphasizes the need of having a quality education. The Latin American and Caribbean countries have made great progress in terms of coverage thus raising the odds in their reaching the target proposed in the Second Millennium Goal. However, while is true that coverage is a significant aspect, it is also important that children who attend school effectively learn reading, writing, and mathematic skills and that they also, complete primary school in a timely manner. 9

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