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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 14:26 GMT
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The number of children without access to education has fallen by a quarter, says Unesco - as it reports on a global drive for universal primary schooling.

But there are still 72 million children going without - many concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

This interim report on the UN's 2015 target of universal primary education says 87% of children currently benefit.

It was 83% in 1999. More rapid growth is being driven by factors such as increased aid and the removal of fees.

Other factors include higher expenditure on education and the fact that it has been made compulsory in some countries.


Although calling for an acceleration in investment, the Unesco report is cautiously optimistic about meeting the target.

1. Norway
2. UK
3. Slovenia
127. Burkina Faso
128. Niger
129. Chad
Source: Unesco

"At this midway point, our assessment leans towards the positive but much more remains to be done if the goals are to be met," said the director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, Nicholas Burnett.

However its report says that if current trends are continued, 58 out of 86 countries without universal primary education will miss the 2015 target.

There will also need to be 18 million more primary school teachers recruited and an additional investment of $11bn to achieve the goal, says the report.

The report from the UN's cultural and educational agency shows that enrolment in primary school has risen in some of the poorest countries - up by 36% in sub-Saharan Africa and 22% in south and west Asia compared to 1999.

Girls are still disproportionately likely to miss out on schooling, particularly in Arab and south Asian countries, says the report.


In two thirds of countries there is not parity between boys and girls in access to primary and secondary education.

It also highlights the "global disgrace" of adult illiteracy - in which 774 million adults cannot read or write.

The greatest problem exists in eight countries which account for three-quarters of the world's illiterate adults - Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan.

The report provides an international chart showing how countries around the world are measured against four criteria: universal primary education, adult literacy, the quality of education and gender parity.

The most successful 10 against this measure are Norway, followed by the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Sweden, South Korea, Italy, Kazakhstan, Iceland, France and Denmark.

The 10 countries at the bottom of this education table are Pakistan, Eritrea, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Benin, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and finally Chad.

Illiteracy 'hinders world's poor'
09 Nov 05 |  Education
UN 'will miss education target'
09 Nov 04 |  Special Reports
Girls miss out on going to school
06 Nov 03 |  Education

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