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In Istanbul, UNICEF and UNESCO Institute for Statistics launch joint education project

Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children

© UNICEF/NYHQ2005-1156/LeMoyne
Yaprak, 10, and a classmate examine a globe at school in Karaali village in Ankara province, Turkey. While Turkey has made significant progress in reducing the number of out-of-school girls in the past few years, large numbers continue to drop out in later grades of primary school.

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 30 June 2010 – While Turkey has made significant progress in reducing the number of out-of-school girls in recent decades, the number of girls in school continues to decline sharply by the fifth and sixth grades.

To address the same problem worldwide, education experts and regional and international representatives met in Istanbul last week to launch a new Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children. The initiative is a joint project of the UNICEF and UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

Needed: A quantum leap

With only five years remaining until the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, set by world leaders in 2000, the Global Initiative aims to support a quantum leap in reducing the number of out-of-school children. Such a boost will be needed to achieve the MDG target of universal primary education by 2015.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-1233/Holt
January, 12, stands near tent shelters in a Kibati camp for the displaced where he is unable to attend school, near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of 21 countries targeted by the Global Initiative on Out-of School Children.

At the Istanbul workshop, UNICEF Representative in Sudan Nils Kastberg stressed that the world now requires “a different attitude to education that values it and invests in it consistently over year after year.”

Mr. Kastberg added: “It is not enough to bring in those out of school, but we must also make sure they complete schooling and continue learning to … break the vicious circle of poverty.”

According to UIS, 72 million children of primary school age – more than half of them girls – were still out of school in 2007. According to UNICEF estimates, the figure rises to 101 million when attendance rates collected from household surveys are factored in. Based on current trends, an estimated 56 million will still not be in school in 2015.

Addressing the gap

The two-year Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children aims to address this gap by:

  • Improving statistical information and analysis regarding school enrolment and attendance
  • Identifying bottlenecks and factors that contribute to children’s exclusion from school
  • Strengthening institutional capacities and analyzing existing policies to develop realistic and robust plans for accelerated enrolment and sustained attendance rates.

In order to achieve its desired impact, the Global Initiative will feed into ongoing education-sector planning and reform processes, as well as annual sector and budget reviews. Its findings will be disseminated widely to influence policy and leverage resources to scale up interventions in the initiative’s 21 selected countries (from seven regions of the developing world), including Cambodia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Turkey and Sudan.

Building peaceful societies

Mr. Kastberg said he was pleased to be part of this effort, because education is vital to building safe, strong and peaceful societies.

“Educated, healthy children and adolescents build state sovereignty, not weapons and arms,” he said. “Education is not a matter of welfare. It is a human right. It is what builds statehood.”



Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children

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