Basic education has a direct and proven impact on poverty reduction and sustainable development. Globally, primary school enrolment and completion rates are showing significant improvement:
Developing countries have made impressive advances towards universal primary education. Between 1999 and 2008, for example, 46 million additional children were enrolled in primary education in sub-Saharan Africa. During the same period, despite this large influx of new students, the region's primary enrolment ratio increased by 31 percent to approximately 77 percent.
Enrolment in primary education has continued to rise, reaching 90 percent in the developing world in 2010, which is up from 83 percent in 2000. Most of this progress, however, was made before 2004. Global numbers of out-of-school children are dropping too slowly and too unevenly for the target to be reached by 2015.
Persistent gaps and challenges that need to be addressed include girls' exclusion, reaching the most marginalized, and ensuring quality education in fragile states, which account for almost half of all out-of-school children. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of primary-age children in sub-Saharan Africa who were out of school climbed from 29 million to 31 million. The gender gap in the out-of-school population has narrowed, but is still wide: worldwide, an estimated 35 million primary-school age girls were not enrolled in 2009. Nevertheless, several countries who were the furthest behind are on track to reach gender parity by 2015.
CIDA, through its Children and Youth Strategy and its work on access to quality education, supports initiatives that:
Over the past six years, CIDA has allocated, on average, 10 percent of its overall budget to education. It has exceeded its pledge to contribute $150 million to basic education in Africa by 2010-2011, contributing $165 million in that year.
Increased enrolment: CIDA has invested heavily in education in Mali and Tanzania. Thanks to the contribution of Canada and other donor countries, Mali's primary enrolment rate increased from 44 percent in 2002 to 73 percent in 2010; and in Tanzania, it increased from 77 percent in 2002 to almost 100 percent in 2010.
Better school access for girls: In Afghanistan, CIDA supports the work of Aga Khan Foundation Canada to enhance education for girls in the provinces of Bamyan, Baghlan, and Badakhshan. By May 2012, more than 6,000 teachers and educators had been trained in gender-equitable teaching. In addition, 72 community-based preschools had been established, supporting 2,138 children; more than half were girls. The project also developed accelerated learning classes to help girls pass school exams.
Education for all: In 2010-2011, CIDA invested $416 million to support education in developing countries. In November 2011, CIDA announced funding of $45 million over three years for the Global Partnership for Education, known formerly as Education for All. Through the support of Canada and other countries, the Global Partnership has helped enroll 19 million more children in school globally, supported the construction of more than 30,000 classrooms, and trained more than 337,000 teachers.