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Kuwait slips on education
April 10, 2015, 10:52 am

Kuwait is one of the countries with a remarkable decline in the percentage of trained teachers in pre-primary education from almost 100 percent in 1999 to less than 80 percent in 2012, according to the 2015 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Thursday.

The report revealed that Kuwait maintained a ratio of below 20:1 from 1999 to 2012 with slight decline in the number of students per teacher in 2012, while the number of primary school children enrolled in private academic institutions increased from about 30 percent in 1999 to almost 40 percent in 2012.

On the likelihood of achieving pre-primary gross enrolment ratio (GER) of at least 80 percent by 2015, Kuwait is among those countries moving slowly or moving away (off track) with low level of likelihood to achieve the target — GER ranging from 30 to 69 percent.

As for the universal primary education goal, Kuwait is one of the countries which achieved the target with adjusted net enrolment ratio (ANER) of 97 percent and above. The ANER measures the proportion of children of primary school age who are enrolled either in primary or secondary school. It was projected only for countries with data for at least seven data points between 1999 and 2012 and where ANER was below 97 percent in 1999, 2012 or both.

The 61 countries where ANER was 97 percent and above in 2012 were considered to have achieved the target. ANER projections were not done for them but they are included in the overall analysis. In order to achieve the universal primary education goal on quality and efficiency, a 2003 study for the World Bank together with the 2004 indicative framework for the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) recommended that to reach acceptable levels of quality and efficiency, one-third of primary recurrent spending, which includes spending on learning and teaching materials, should be earmarked for non-salary expenditure (Bermingham, 2004; Bruns et al., 2003).

Domestic public investment is not achieving this, as the limited data available clearly illustrate. In 2012, in the 36 countries with data, the average share of the primary education recurrent budget spent on textbooks and other teaching and learning materials was less than two percent; 16 countries spent less than one percent. Only Kuwait and Malawi spent close to five percent or more.

The UN gave a third of the world’s countries a passing grade Thursday for efforts to provide universal basic education, but said most governments had failed on a pledge made 15 years ago.

In 2000, 164 countries agreed at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Education Forum to ensure basic education for all by 2015.

But in its latest annual report, the UN body said that only a minority had passed the test. Several European countries as well as Cuba, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia are among those who managed to meet the education goal, said the report. Pakistan, Yemen and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa were nowhere close to meeting their targets.

Only around half of the 164 countries have succeeded in providing universal primary education, the report said. In 15 years, “the world has made significant progress,” the director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, said. “Millions more children are in school than would have been had the trends of the 1990s persisted.” But governments need to “prioritise the poorest — especially girls”, she added. The world’s poorest children are four times less likely to go to school than the richest, the report said.

Around 58 million children are still out of school globally and 100 million children fail to complete primary education. Gender parity at the primary and secondary levels has improved but girls’ education is often hindered by “early marriages and pregnancies”, said the report.

The 2000 Dakar education summit had also hoped to halve the number of illiterate adults. But the rate of global illiteracy has dropped only slightly — from 18 percent in 2000 to an estimated 14 percent in 2015. Of the 781 million illiterate adults worldwide, two thirds are women, says UNESCO. The report comes a month ahead of UNESCO’s World Education Forum in Incheon, South Korea which will set new education targets for 2030.

The UN agency said funding remained the main obstacle to expanding education and that the international community must find an additional $22 billion (20 billion euros) to meet the education-forall targets by 2030. The report recommended that governments devote 15 to 20 percent of their national budgets to education, and that donors increase their contributions fourfold. UNESCO also wants governments to mandate at least one year of free pre-primary education for all children.

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