The concept of education for all may seem less relevant in industrialized countries, many of which have a century of commitment to universal primary education behind them. Compulsory education and considerable national wealth have not, however, necessarily delivered schooling of high quality for all children.
Industrialized countries accounted for 2 per cent of all the children of primary school age out of school in 2001, for example, and overall NE/AR still falls just short of the 100 per cent mark. This highlights the great difficulty in reaching those last elusive few percentage points that confirm universal primary completion.
Education systems in the industrialized world continue to be challenged by problems of inequity. The needs of marginalized groups, including ethnic minorities and recent immigrants, are not always adequately met. There is also a growing gender divide to the disadvantage of boys. Projected net attendance rates in industrialized countries in 2005, for example, show 100 per cent of girls in school but only 98 per cent of boys.
Girls are also showing consistently higher standards of attainment, and this is causing policy makers to question whether established methods of classroom instruction are capable of countering this reverse gender gap.
A minority of industrialized countries were still some way short of universal primary NE/AR in 2001. The group includes some that only joined the European Union in 2004 (having formerly been considered part of the CEE/CIS region) such as the Czech Republic (88.5 per cent), Latvia (89.2 per cent) and Slovakia (87.0 per cent). But long-established industrialized nations are also to be found in this group.