Education for all in high-population countries discussed at UN-backed meeting

Girls learn to read in Bubel village in Orissa, India

10 March 2008 – Ministers and educational experts from nine countries that contain half the world’s people and are plagued by illiteracy convened today to strategize on ways to more quickly achieve universal education, according to the United Nations cultural agency.

Officials from the world’s nine high population countries - known as the E-9 group and comprising Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan – are meeting this week in Bali, Indonesia, under the auspices of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO).

In 1993, working with UNESCO, these countries launched the E-9 Initiative to address basic education, teacher training and gender disparities.

They have pledged to universalize primary education and significantly reduce illiteracy in their respective countries by 2015, in keeping with the goals set by over 160 countries at the 2000 World Education Conference in Dakar.

However, the 2008 Education for All Global Monitoring Report published by UNESCO warns that while significant progress has been achieved, only two of the nine countries are likely to reach literacy goals and only three are likely to achieve gender parity by the target year.

Improving the number and quality of teachers is seen as a key to further progress and the subject is high on the agenda, since in many of the E-9 countries less than half of the teachers have educational training.

The use of information and communication technologies, as well as open and distance learning for teachers will also be discussed, along with global teaching trends and funding, UNESCO said.

The seventh meeting of the E-9 group will run until Wednesday.


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