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Progress for Children

Progress for Children: Despite gains, too many missing out on education

© UNICEF/HQ05-0579/Shimizu
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy and UN spokesperson Marie Heuzé at the launch event for UNICEF’s latest ‘Progress for Children’ report, held at the Palais des Nation, Geneva, Switzerland.

UNICEF’s latest ‘Progress for Children’ report, on gender parity and primary education, is part of the many efforts by partners in the world community to ensure that opportunities for going to school are equally available to both girls and boys. The report complements the work of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative and the Gender Achievement and Prospects in Education (GAP) project, both supported by UN agencies, governments, donor countries, non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and communities and families. ‘Progress for Children’ will be released on 18 April 2005.

By Chris Niles

NEW YORK, 15 April 2005 -  UNICEF’s latest Progress for Children report says that, while more girls worldwide are going to school, the gender gap in many regions is still unacceptably wide.

The report, released by UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy in Geneva today, says that the world has made impressive gains towards gender parity – getting the same numbers of girls as boys into school.

 “We estimate that 86 per cent of primary school-age children are in school in 2005, up from 82 per cent in 2001,” said Ms. Bellamy.  “Based on the estimates it’s safe to say that the number of children who could be in school but are not may have dropped below 100 million for the first time.”

However, without a ‘quantum leap’ the world will miss the goal of universal primary education by 2015.

“A goal of universal primary education with equal opportunity for girls and boys is realistic,” said Ms. Bellamy. “It’s affordable, it’s achievable and what’s more, it’s our children’s birthright.”

Some 125 out of 180 countries are on course to have gender parity by 2005 – and meet the target set by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

The regions of the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and West and Central Africa – where barriers such as poverty, HIV/AIDS and conflict prevent children from realizing their right to an education – will not meet the gender parity goal.

The report finds that of all the children out of school, 82 per cent live in rural areas and 75 per cent have mothers who themselves did not go to school.

Getting the same numbers of girls and boys in school is one of the crucial steps to achieving universal primary education.

Significant progress has been made. According to projections, it is estimated that as many as 15 million fewer children will be out of school in 2005 than in 2001.

“This report proves that our strategic focus on getting more girls into school is working to increase attendance rates for boys and girls,” said Ms. Bellamy.

But the report also shows that, even with the increase, the 2015 goal will not be met at the present rate.

 “It’s clear that a quantum leap is needed both to break down the barriers keeping girls out of school and to make school available to all children,” said Ms. Bellamy.











18 April 2005:
Carol Bellamy delivers UNICEF’s Progress for Children report.

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15 April 2005:
UNICEF’s Progress for Children report looks at gender parity in primary school attendance.

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