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Education is the key to lasting development

As world leaders prepare to meet in New York later this month to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals, UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report is releasing new data to highlight how education helps fight poverty, and empowers people with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to shape a better future. According to the Report’s team:
  • 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills – that is equivalent to a 12% drop in the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 1.8 million children’s lives could have been saved in 2008 if their mothers had at least secondary education – a 41% reduction.
    The past decade has seen remarkable progress in many countries in getting more children, especially girls, into school – bringing the second and third Millennium Development Goals nearer. However, the Report warns that the momentum built up since the beginning of the decade is starting to wane, and that the pace of progress is slipping. Governments need to urgently step up their efforts to reach the 2015 target.
  • While the number of primary school-age children out of school fell by almost 37 million from 1999 to 2008, there were still 69 million children out of school in 20081.
  • The past five years have witnessed a marked slowdown in the rate of progress towards universal primary education. Compared with the first half of the decade, progress has halved. If current trends continue, there will be more children out of school in 2015 than there are today.

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This note provides background information on progress towards universal primary education (MDG 2) and gender parity in education (MDG 3) and outlines education’s vital contribution towards the other goals. It draws on data prepared by UNESCO for the period 1999 to 2008 and projections to 2015.

The full global information, including trends and projections, will be published in the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report in February 2011. See


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