Achieve universal primary education

Where are we?

  A group of primary school children in Jakarta, Indonesia, are working together on their homework. Photo credit: Anne Lin/UNDP Picture This

Asia and the Pacific has made good progress toward expanding children’s access to basic education. The region is likely to meet the target of universal primary enrolment by 2015. Nevertheless, high number of out-of-school children of primary school age remains a concern. The 2013 Global MDG Report acknowledged that almost half the reduction in the global number of children out of school can be attributed to South Asia, where the number of out-of-school children of primary school age fell from a high of 38 million in 2000 to 12 million in 2011. Yet, the large numbers of out-of-school children live in middle income countries such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The children with less access to education often live in war-torn zones or remote communities, belong to ethnic minorities or have disabilities.  

Even for children who are attending primary school, there are major concerns about the quality of their education and low educational attainment of the secondary education and above. Low attainment is partly a consequence of low public expenditure on education. Public expenditure on education as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product is, for example, 3.3 percent in East Asia, lower than the world average of 4.8 percent. Government spending on education, relative to other sectors, is also lower in Asia and the Pacific than in other low-income and lower-middle income countries.

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