The World Is 70 Years Behind Schedule on Primary Education

How It Works
Jan. 29 2014 3:39 PM

The World Is 70 Years Behind Schedule on Education

There aren't as many schools like this one, in the Azilal province of the Tadla-Azilal region of Morocco, as U.N. members thought there would be by now.

Photo by Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

The second Millennium Development Goal, approved by U.N. member states in 2000, pledged that all children in the world would have access to primary education by 2015, but a new report from UNESCO makes clear that that was wildly optimistic.

“The number of children out of school was 57 million in 2011,” the report notes. At current rates, the goal of universal primary education won’t be achieved until 2086.


The world’s poorest girls—wide gender disparities still remain in these numbers—won’t achieve universal secondary education until 2111. Adult literacy improved only 1 percent since 2000.

Understandably, countries with armed conflict tend to have made the slowest progress.

A more optimistic way of looking at this is that the number of children out of school has declined by 50 percent since 2000. But progress is still being made much slower than expected, and it’s another factor to keep in mind when considering some of the more Pollyannaish development predictions out there.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.


How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 4:15 PM The Trials of White Boy Rick A Detroit crime legend, the FBI, and the ugliness of the war on drugs.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 4:26 PM How to Measure the Value of Your Personal Data in Cookies: A Slate Guide
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.