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UK reviews education programme in the developing world

The UK is set to remodel its education programme in the world’s poorest countries in an attempt to help children who are considered the hardest to reach and revive international efforts to get all primary aged children into school by 2015.

The Department for International Development is launching a wide-ranging public consultation today to investigate a range of options that will help shape a new education strategy. The consultation is calling on the UK’s leading education experts, teachers, charity workers, NGOs and others to apply their knowledge and experience.

The consultation will look at how to improve access for children in countries affected by conflict and instability alongside improving education for girls, better teachers and curricula focussed on jobs. As well as getting more children into school it will look at how to ensure those attending continue to do so and the quality of their learning is improved.

Around the world 75 million primary aged children are still not in school. This lack of basic education deprives young people of choices and opportunities and makes it harder for countries in the developing world to tackle poverty and disease.

Over the last seven years, the number of children out of school has significantly reduced – by 28 million - but progress is now slowing, with some groups persistently remaining out of reach of aid efforts, especially in areas affected by conflict.

It is estimated that over half of children out of school live in conflict countries, whilst there are more than 41 million girls currently out of school across the developing world.

Launching the consultation, Mike Foster, International Development Minister for education, said:

"Fighting poverty means we need to drive forward the education agenda. We know that fragile states breed poverty and inequality. To raise educational standards in the fight against poverty means we will have to work in these most difficult of environments."

“The UK’s aid programme has achieved real results in education and is supporting five million children in primary school.

“But we must go further and that is why we are looking at what we need to do differently, and what we need to do more of, to reach those children that have proved the hardest to reach with our existing programme.”

The strategy follows the Government’s recent poverty White Paper, which set out the UK’s commitment to channel development aid toward countries suffering from conflict and instability.

The consultation will focus on the following areas:

Conflict affected countries

    * Of the millions of children not in school, it is believed up to half are in conflict affected countries. UNESCO estimates at least 29 million primary aged children will be out of school in 2015 – one third in Nigeria and Pakistan.
    * Providing education is difficult in hostile environments and the consultation will explore how we can bridge the gap between education when a country is in conflict to it being an aid to a country’s recovery.


    * There are more than forty one million girls out of school across the developing world.
    * Studies show educating girls is one of the best investments society can make. Helping girls get into school, and stay there, is vital for countries to develop.
    * A girl who has been educated is 50% more likely to have her child immunised, and her children are more than twice as likely to live until the age of five.
    * We need to ensure that once girls are in school they receive equal treatment to boys, and go on to equal opportunities in the workplace.

Job skills

    * Many of the most fragile and conflict-affected states in the world also suffer massive unemployment.
    * Creating sustainable jobs for those finishing school is key in helping people work their way out of poverty, helping them to contribute towards the rebuilding of their country.
    * DFID already plans to help 7.5 million people benefit from jobs and economic opportunities in five key fragile states - Yemen, Nepal, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
    * We want to improve the quality of teaching in schools, which will lead to a better-educated workforce who can better respond to today’s global economic challenges.

In addition to improving access to school and in response to the recent financial downturn, the consultation will look at proposals to boost economic development, which could lead to a new focus on jobs training and school curriculum that is shaped according to the particular needs of the local employment market.

Notes to editors:

1. DFID education programmes to date have led to:

    * An investment of £8.5 billion on education in a ten-year period in the run up to 2015.
    * Investing £1 billion per year on education by 2010.
    * In Uganda and Malawi, two countries we support,  the number of children enrolling in primary school has doubled in five years and is now over 90%.
    * An increase in not just the number of children in school, but the quality of their education. DFID is working with international partners to help recruit and train an estimated 18 million additional teachers needed worldwide.

The White Paper also includes a commitment to supporting eight million children in school in Africa by 2010.

2. DFID’s  Education Strategy: Consultation Paper can be viewed at The consultation will inform a new education strategy which will be published later this year.

3. For further information please contact Laura McCleary 020 7023 1912


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