We believe to live in a world where everything is constantly developing and upgrading, where kids go to schools and get university degrees. This is true for developed countries. The situation in developing countries is quite different. In fact, the education situation is so bad that it got its own name.
In 2019 a new concept was introduced to the world – Learning Poverty. It literally means being unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10. Coined by the World Bank and based on the data developed in coordination with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, ‘Learning Poverty’ means is that today we have 53% of children in low- and middle-income countries who cannot read and understand a simple story by the end of primary school. The number goes up to 80% for kids in poor countries.
What does this mean to us as a human civilization? It means that global education is in a crisis. With all the advances and progress in the world, having the levels of illiteracy so high simply means that we are doing something wrong. And the responsibility falls far beyond schools, teachers and curriculum designers. All the forces have to be united to make things right.
Indeed, as the World Economic Forum article points out, it takes all the stakeholders to make a change: “the executive branch, public opinion, trade unions, media, teachers, business sector, parliaments, local authorities, and parents need to unify around the common goal of education reform that promotes student’s learning, something that still not happening in many countries”. You can read more on this point in the World Development Report 2018 in English and in Chinese.
One of the biggest problems with the education crisis is that it’s a silentcrisis, as the World Economic Forum points out. Just think about it: it takes years for a child to grow up and while those years pass by in an unequipped school with an untrained teacher or without proper books, no one really notices much about this child, the school or the situation overall. There are no attention-driven emotional photos or videos that would make people and governments feel that it’s wrong and finally take agency.
One thing is definite – this crisis is happening now and actions to deal with it have to be taken urgently. The world has the resources to work on it and together we can to make it happen. And it has to happen now.
What else, in your opinion, can we do today to eradicate Learning Poverty and deal with the global education crisis?
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