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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Global Reading Crisis: 300 Million Children at Risk by 2030, Report Says

This Week

More than 300 million children, representing 37 percent of all young people worldwide, will fail to achieve basic reading proficiency by 2030 if immediate action is not taken, according to the first Global Report on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).

The report, jointly published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), reveals critical insights and recommendations aimed at improving global education.

Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, emphasized the powerful benefits of investing in early childhood. 

“Investing in our youngest children brings the greatest returns, both socially and economically. It is the best investment a country can make. The price of inaction can be very high, as our work shows,” she stated during the report’s launch, on 17 June in Paris, France.

Significant progress has been made, with 95 percent of countries now reporting actions in ECCE, up from 40 percent just two years ago. This reflects a growing global awareness and commitment to early childhood education.

However, challenges remain. There is an urgent need to increase access to quality ECCE programs and address teacher shortages and qualifications, especially in low-income countries where only 57 percent of pre-primary teachers are properly trained. Additionally, securing more funding is essential, with an extra USD 21 billion needed annually to achieve ECCE goals by 2030.

The report highlights nine key recommendations, urging countries to prioritize young children in national policies, increase funding from local and international sources, and build global partnerships to ensure every child receives a strong educational foundation.

The creation of a robust international framework is required to guarantee the right to ECCE, improve accountability, and secure stable funding to prevent a worsening global education crisis, according to UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education.

Challenges in Laos’ Education System

In Laos, significant challenges such as teacher shortages and increasing school dropout rates among young students are major issues facing the country’s education system.

The Ministry of Education and Sports in Laos has noted a decline in secondary school student numbers for Grades 4 and 7, marking the third consecutive year of decrease. Specifically, Grade 4 exam takers dropped to 68,850 from 83,544 in 2022, while Grade 7 numbers fell to 46,744 from 55,828 in the same period. Additionally, less than 10,000 out of more than 49,000 high school graduates pursued university education in 2023.

Low wages have led to widespread teacher shortages across the country. Many teachers are quitting due to salaries that are insufficient to cover the high cost of living. Volunteer teachers often leave after teaching for several years without pay.

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