Geneva, 19 September 2023 (TDI): UNESCO has released data indicating a staggering increase of 6 million out-of-school children and youth since 2021, casting a shadow over the United Nations’ education objectives.

Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, declares an education crisis. Despite prior efforts for inclusive quality education, UNESCO data reveals a concerning increase in out-of-school children.

“A new school year is starting in many parts of the world. This news should bring us joy, but it also reminds us that strong inequalities persist in access to education: 244 million of children are still out of school. No one can accept this situation. Education is a right and we must do everything to ensure that this right is respected for every child,” Audrey Azoulay stated.

UNESCO’s latest report reveals a troubling surge in out-of-school children and youth, now totaling 250 million worldwide, with a 6 million increase since 2021.

The report highlights both the impact of girls’ exclusion from education in Afghanistan and the persistent global education stagnation.

These findings pose a significant setback to UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, aiming for universal quality education by 2030.

UNESCO’s analysis reveals that if nations were meeting their SDG 4 targets, there would be 6 million more preschoolers, 58 million additional students, and at least 1.7 million more trained primary school teachers.

A year ago, 141 nations pledged at the UN Transforming Education Summit to overhaul their education systems, with 80% of them focusing on enhancing teacher training, 70% pledging to boost education investments, and 25% vowing to increase financial support for school meals, all in pursuit of SDG 4 advancement.

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UNESCO’s 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report reveals that since 2015, the primary education completion rate has inched up by less than 3 percentage points, reaching 87%.

Similarly, secondary education completion has seen modest growth, with an increase of less than 5 percentage points, now standing at 58%.

Audrey Azoulay emphasizes the urgency of translating commitments into action to meet SDG 4.

By 2030, a child must enroll in school every 2 seconds. This entails enrolling 1.4 million children in early childhood education annually and nearly tripling primary completion rates.