Education for all in Barbados
BRIDGETOWN – A new study by the UN children’s fund, UNICEF, has found that Barbados ensures that education is funded equally between the richest and poorest households.
The study titled, “Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children”, was published on Monday to coincide with a meeting of education ministers, gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
UNICEF is urging world leaders to address ‘shameful’ disparities in public education spending.
According to the study, only five of the 42 countries involved in the survey ensured that education is funded equally between the richest and poorest households.
They are Barbados, the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country in the survey, as well as Denmark, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.
The study calls for all countries to follow this example, prioritize public funding for lower levels of education, and provide at least one year of universal pre-primary education for every child.
“We are at a critical juncture. If we invest wisely and equitably in children’s education, we have the best possible chance of lifting children out of poverty by empowering them with the skills they need to access opportunities, and create new ones for themselves,” said UNICEF executive director, Henrietta Fore.
The study warns that no country can achieve the goal of inclusive and quality education for all unless it makes quality education a reality for all segments of the population.
“But, in too many countries, governments spent the least in education resources on the poorest children.
The most disadvantaged children, who face the strongest barriers to learning opportunities, will be the ones acutely facing the amplifying nature of shortfalls in education”
It noted for example, school-to-work transitions are considerably longer for those with low levels of education and skills.
“They are also more likely to transition to low-paying, low-skilled jobs. For them, the full promise of education will remain unrealised unless we start moving towards a more equitable path.”.
The study warns excluding the poorest children from education perpetuates poverty and is a key driver of the global learning crisis. Obstacles they face include discrimination due to gender, disability, ethnic origin, and poor infrastructure.
It said that those who do make it to school may then find themselves faced with large class sizes, poorly trained teachers, a lack of education materials and poor school infrastructure.
UNICEF said that this has an adverse impact on attendance, enrolment and learning.
“Countries everywhere are failing the world’s poorest children and, in doing so, failing themselves. As long as public education spending is disproportionately skewed towards children from the richest households, the poorest will have little hope of escaping poverty,” Fore warned. (CMC)