Education for all is a driving mechanism for development. The 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report and the 2030 United Nations (UN) SDGs 4 has its focus on inclusion and equality. Educational systems can only reflect these two goals when it encompasses development even in low income countries or societies. The research by Save the Children shows that before Covid-19 school closures, more than 75 million children across the world’s crisis and conflict-affected countries urgently required support to access a good quality education. From the global Covid-19 pandemic to the existential threat of climate change, every person in every part of the world has been affected by the threats facing us.
This is the more reason why inclusive education must be a priority for the campaign on prevention of marginalization of millions who are not learning. There is the need for educational systems and institutions that works to include everyone, whatever their identity or identities, a place that creates a thriving environment for persons of all gender. Before Covid-19 progress towards inclusive and equitable quality education was too slow. The 2019 UNESCO report on SDGS 4 shows that in 2018, 258 million children, adolescents and youth were out of school, representing one-sixth of the global population of this age group. The 2020 UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs on Sustainable Development estimates that over 200 million children will still be out of school in 2030
This does not support the idea that education is a human right for all throughout life and that access must be matched by quality. As opined by UNESCO, education transforms lives and is at the heart of their mission to drive sustainable development. Inclusion and equality is only possible when it includes both genders and works to eradicate marginalization of the girl child. The girl child is usually considered as part of the vulnerable groups that are risk of dropping out due to various reasons such as gender bias, poverty, location, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies. Further, girls from the poorest communities are likely to miss out on remote learning strategies, either because access is limited or because the burden of care often falls on the women.
For many adolescent girls, especially those from low-income countries and the poorest communities, access to education was already a challenge even before the Covid-19. The 2019 UNESCO report shows that historically, girls and young women were more likely to be excluded from education. Despite an uptick resulting from continued decline of male out-of-school rate combined with a small increase in the female out-of-school rate, the conclusion still drives at the fact that globally, girls of primary school are still more likely to be out of school compared to boys. There is no doubt that emergencies exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and intensify the existing learning crisis.
The GEM report in exploring equity by gender, in 30 out of 134 countries, fewer than 90 females for every 100 males completed lower secondary. In 17 countries, fewer than 90 males for every 100 females completed lower secondary school. One of the SDGs 4 target, is to eliminate gender disparities in education by 2030 in ensuring equal access to all levels of education (Target 4.5).