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Fridays Academy: Education, Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth (IV)

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

As usual on Fridays, from Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes on Economic Policies for Poverty Reduction.


Global Initiatives for Education For All (EFA)

As mentioned in previous weeks, a number of global initiatives are on the table to achieve “education for all”.  Today we will examine how close the EFA goal is to being achieved. This posting is based on research conducted by Bruns, Mingat and Rakotomalala (2003).


The MDG for education that was also agreed at the Dakar World Education Forum aims at:

  • Ensuring that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

  • Eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and at all levels of education no later than 2015.

Completing a full-course of primary schooling would suggest a Universal Primary Completion (UPC) of 100. Based on the progress achieved over the 1990s, and projecting forward, Bruns et al., (2003) find that the global primary completion rate in 2015 would not exceed 83 percent. However, this rate masks enormous regional differences as illustrated in the exhibits below. 


Primary Completion Progress in Africa, Middle East and North Africa and South Asia Regions, 1990-2015, Country-Weighted



Source:   Bruns, Mingat and Rakotomalala, 2003


Just over half of all school-age children in Africa completed primary school by 2000; the increase over the decade for South Asia was stronger but the average completion rate remains around 70 percent. A decade of slight decline and stagnation marked the experience for Middle East and North Africa with the average completion rate in 2000 around 74 percent.  Regional differences also mask country differences – South Africa, The Gambia registered increases in primary completion rates while Zambia, The Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain all registered significant declines.  Afghanistan dropped from a low 22 percent in 1990 to 8 percent in 1999. 


Primary Completion Progress in Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia and Pacific and Europe and Central Asia Regions, 1990-2015, Country-Weighted


Source:   Bruns, Mingat and Rakotomalala, 2003


Europe and Central Asia is closest to the goal of universal primary completion, registering 92 percent in 2000 and followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (85%) and East Asia and Pacific (84%).  Intra-regional differences saw an increase in the ratio in Brazil, Nicaragua and Cambodia with declines in Venezuela. 


Prospects for Universal Primary Completion by 2015

UP4           Source:   Bruns, Mingat and Rakotomalala, 2003.


Exhibit above examines the progress for 155 countries in achieving universal primary completion by 2015.  The breakdown between low income countries (LICs) and middle income countries (MICs) is roughly equivalent with 82 and 73 countries respectively.  Here it can be seen that the prospects for the LICs are not good.  While 37 countries have already achieved, or are close to achieving, universal primary completion, the majority of these (26) are MICs. A further 32 are “on track,” again primarily MICs.  The remaining 86 countries, more than 50 percent of the total are “at risk” for not achieving the MDGs in education.  Some of these countries (43) are making good progress but stagnation in the 1990s or starting from a low base will make it difficult for them to achieve UPC by 2015. Again the majority (28) are LICs.  More worryingly are those 27 countries—23 of which are LICs that are ‘seriously off-track’. At current trends, their completion rate will lie at or below 50 percent. No data were available for 16 countries including Somalia, Liberia and Myanmar, but it is highly likely that they are also in the “at risk” category.




Submitted by Kaustav Bhattacharya on
After reading this blog it inspired me to inform you about a project I'm working on that is closely associated with the aims laid out in this blog entry you have made.

As India moves from processing the worlds back office data to developing original research and development and building its knowledge economy, it is facing a new challenge. In a country with such vast resources and people power, how can India take the next step and build a sustainable knowledge economy? Its future lies in its youth who are the individuals who will shape and mould the future economy of India. To succeed in this task the current generation of leaders, Indian heroes, change enablers and entrepreneurs need to nurture and direct the developing minds and aspiration of India's vast army of highly educated minds to ensure that the focus on global economics, science and technology remain at the very core of primary, secondary and tertiary education. These sectors that will count the most in the future - not only for India but for most of the leading and emerging economies of the world. An adaptable education system is paramount to equipping today’s youth of India to cope with the change, challenges and developments which the future holds for our planet so educate we must to succeed on the world scene.

An event organised to develop future leaders and change enablers within India, called Jagriti Yatra, is being organised for December 24th, 2007. The event will take the form of an epic eighteen day train journey starting at the eve of Christmas in Mumbai, weaving its way to the southern tip of India, up its west coast to stop off at various info-tech hot spots and then on to the east in Kolkata, curling around to the north, snaking its way through the centre and culminating at Mumbai. A total of eighteen cities and towns will be visited.

Abroad the train will be three hundred Indian youth ranging from 18 to 25 years old who will have been selected by a rigorous application process. The aim is the have on board youth from all walks of life from as wide and diverse locations within India as possible - focusing on those individuals who have a vision to succeed, rise above the norm and strive to reach one step further to better themselves and their country.

Along the route of the train journey there will be a number of stops to visit institutions, businesses and individuals who have shaped the future of their part of India either through social projects or business initiatives. These stops will serve as focus points for the participants on the train and we hope that their interactions and experiences at each of these stops will serve as educational lessons and inspiration and also provide role models to look up to.

In addition to the 300 youth, the train will be carrying a number of notable mentors, elder statesmen and women who are successful professionals in their own right; some social and some business entrepreneurs. These mentors will be assigned to each train carriage to instigate discussion, debate and to set tasks and goals; ultimately to pull together a range of clarified and documented thoughts, opinions and plans on a multi-point agenda that covers wide ranging topics such as development, economics, infrastructure, the environment and globalization in the 21st century. These conclusions will have been derived by the youth on the train with the experiences guidance and help of the mentors who will be on board.

The ultimate aim of the Yatra is to establish an institute in India that will help aspiring young men and women to be the chance to help themselves and to help their country grow in a global economy. The institute will aim to educate those attending with the right knowledge, skills and attitude to be the next leaders, entrepreneurs and change enablers who have the caliber to make significant contributions to India's development, future and shape its standing on the world scene.

To find out more about this event, visit the Jagriti Yatra web site at

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