The United Nations reports that:
"Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names - much less operate a computer or understand a simple application form. And they will live, as now, in more desperate poverty and poorer health than most of those who can. They are the world's functional illiterates - and their numbers are growing... Girls crowd these ranks disproportionately, representing nearly two of every three children in the developing world who do not receive a primary education (approximately 73 million of the 130 million out-of-school children)." (full report below)
Every year we spend $80 billion on education.
We only need $7 billion more
We only need about $7 billion more dollars per year for six years - less than Europeans spend on ice cream or Americans spend on cosmetics - so that by the year 2010, all of the children of the world can have primary schooling.
Annual amount spent by Europe on ice cream: $11 billion
Source: Enrique Delamonica, Santosh Mehrotra, and Jan Vandemoortele; Universalizing Primary Education: How Much Will it Cost? UNICEF staff working papers series (Unpublished)
...did you know?
The assets of the 200 richest people in the world are more than the total income of 41% of the world's people. A 1% tax on the wealth of these 200 people could fund primary education for all the world's children who lack access to schooling.
Source: United Nations
Development Programme, Human Development
From UNICEF's The State of the World's Children 1999
Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names - much less operate a computer or understand a simple application form. And they will live, as now, in more desperate poverty and poorer health than most of those who can. They are the world's functional illiterates - and their numbers are growing.(1)
An estimated 855 million people - nearly one sixth of humanity - will be functionally illiterate on the eve of the millennium.(2) At the same time, over 130 million children of school age in the developing world are growing up without access to basic education (3), while millions of others languish in sub-standard learning situations where little learning takes place. Girls crowd these ranks disproportionately, representing nearly two of every three children in the developing world who do not receive a primary education (approximately 73 million of the 130 million out-of-school children).(4)
Ensuring the right of education is a matter of morality, justice and economic sense. There is an unmistakable correlation between education and mortality rates, especially child mortality. The implications for girls' education are particularly critical. A 10 percentage point increase in girls' primary enrollment can be expected to decrease infant mortality by 4.1 deaths per 1,000 and a similar rise in girls' secondary enrollment by another 5.6 deaths per 1,000.(5)
The broad social benefits of educating girls are almost universally acknowledged. They include the following:
The value of investing in basic education, and especially the education of girls, is now almost universally accepted. Why then has the international community not rushed to embrace this most cherished project - an avenue that promises more than any other to reach the goal of delivering 'human development' worldwide?
The answer is familiar:
The political will is lacking. When the international community decides
that an idea or projects is of urgent importance, it can move mountains.
Nothing made this plainer than the economic crisis in East Asia in 1997-1998.
The financial collapse first of Thailand, then the Republic of Korea,
and then Indonesia (counted among the financial 'tigers' of Asia) proved
such a shock to the international financial system that the OECD countries
led by the group of Seven responded with admirable urgency. In the space
of a few short months, they mobilized over $100 billion to bolster the
collapsing Asian economies, to be distributed by the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) in return for sweeping structural adjustment programs similar
to those that poorer countries have been undergoing for the last 15
years. Recognizing that the crisis was so grave they could not afford
to observe normal administrative procedures, donor nations bent IMF
rules to accommodate the suffering 'tigers'.