Last Friday (7th Feb) UNICEF launched its Day for Change, with the focus for 2014 on ‘Schools for All’. Across the world there are 57 million children who don’t get the chance to go to school. This figure is already enormous, but there are around 200 million more who are not receiving an education despite attending school. According to the latest report commissioned by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), “around 250 million children are not learning basic skills- even though half of them have spent at least four years at school.” One of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals was to provide universal primary education by 2015; it is clearly unlikely that this goal will be reached.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova wrote: “education provides sustainability to progress against all development goals. Educate mothers, and you empower women and save children’s lives. Educate communities, and you transform societies and grow economies”. Sadly, the list of barriers preventing universal education is vast. The nearest school might be too far away; many children need to stay at home earning money for their families; in war-torn zones attending school, or making the journey there, may be hazardous.
Then there are the children in school but still not receiving a good education. Perhaps the class sizes are too big, or the school doesn’t have sufficient learning resources, or the teachers haven’t had sufficient training.
This picture shows how lucky we are in the UK to have an education system that is free for all and generally easily accessible. Of course, it is nowhere near perfect - with huge educational inequality across society. In the least well-off families in the UK, where children are eligible for free school meals, nearly half (47%) achieve no A-C grade GCSEs. Only 2% go on to attend a Russell Group or equivalently elite university. Compare this to 48% of independent school pupils. Nearly half of the poorest pupils achieve no good GCSE grades at all; nearly half of the richest get into the best universities. Many of these privileged children will have received the benefits of private tutoring.
For every student who pays for a tutor in London through Tutorfair, a disadvantaged child gets tutoring for free; we work with schools where high percentages of children are on free school meals, supporting the children identified as having the greatest need.
While UNICEF strives to fulfil its commendable global ‘Schools for All’ goal, Tutorfair and many other organisations work to narrow our own education gap here in the UK.
Image from www.inewmedia.org CC-by
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2013/ Is cited in article here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47034&Cr=education&Cr1=#.UvtMLPRdVPK