Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada


Canada is participating in the global educational effort

The right to education is enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guaranteed by the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

That is why, in 2000, the United Nations established eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including:

  • MDG 2, which aims to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
  • MDG 3, which aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 and at all levels of education no later than 2015

At the World Education Forum held the same year in Dakar, Senegal, organizations from around the world committed to achieving Education for All.

The six goals of Education for All

Canada is one of 164 countries that has committed to meeting the six Education for All goals and has adapted its policies and programs accordingly. These goals are aimed at meeting the learning needs of all children, young people and adults by 2015:

Goal 1:  Expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Goal 2:  Ensure that all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.

Goal 3:  Ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs.

Goal 4:  Achieve a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.

Goal 5:  Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education, with a focus on ensuring girls' equal access to basic education of good quality.

Goal 6:  Improve all aspects of the quality of education and ensure excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills.

Canada supports this global vision of education grounded in human rights and, in this way, supports the Global Partnership for Education, formerly called the Education for All - Fast Track Initiative. The partnership helps to mobilize resources and speed up progress toward achieving MDG 2 and the goals of Education for All. Canada strongly supports the Global Partnership for Education's strategic directions, which focus on learning outcomes, educating girls, and fragile states.

Barriers to education

Despite the progress made in developing countries over the last decade, 67 million children worldwide—of whom approximately 53 percent are girls—do not have access to basic education.

Children in developing countries face many barriers to obtaining basic education, including:

  • School fees, uniforms and supplies that millions of families are unable to afford
  • Distant or overcrowded schools
  • Unsafe schools and conditions to and from school
  • Poor quality of teaching or irrelevant curricula and teaching/learning materials
  • Economic conditions that require children to work to support the family

For girls, children from minority ethnic groups, children with disabilities, and children living in conflict areas, the barriers are even greater. An educated workforce is essential for stimulating sustainable economic growth and reducing poverty.

Working for education

The Children and Youth Strategy includes a component that focuses on access to quality education for all children, particularly girls. Basic education continues to be at the forefront of Canada's official development assistance. School registration of children is a priority, as is keeping children there for the full 10-year cycle of basic education.

Canada is helping developing countries:

  • Improve access to basic education, particularly for girls
  • Improve the quality of education and promote learning achievement by focusing on teachers and teacher training, relevant curricula, and quality teaching/learning materials
  • Increase access to relevant learning opportunities for young people, in and out of school

Canada is concentrating its efforts on establishing strong education systems that will enable children and youth to get a basic education, that is to say the knowledge and skills that will enable them to face the challenges of daily life and serve as a basis for their lifelong learning. These skills will also enable them to take advantage of economic opportunities in the labour market and actively participate in the development of their communities.

The Sustainable Economic Growth Strategy also includes investments in human capital, such as labour-market-driven vocational training, including literacy and numeracy.

Canada supports education through education programs in developing countries, through multilateral organizations and partnerships, such as the Global Partnership for Education as well as through Canadian non-governmental organizations working in the education sector.

Over the past six years, Canada has allocated, on average, 10 percent of its overall aid budget to basic education. In 2010-2011, Canada's financial support to education in developing countries was $416 million. This amount includes support for teacher training, secondary and college programming, as well as quality basic education programming ($347 million).

In June 2011, the Government of Canada announced aid for children around the world in the amount of $37 million for projects designed to give a better future to today's generation of children and youth-the largest ever in history. Through some of these projects, Canada will be supporting the work of various organizations in Ethiopia, Jordan, Liberia, Lesotho Malawi, and Mali in providing access to quality education of school-age children, particularly girls.

Progress made

To promote quality education in developing countries, Canada is building on its long history in education to expand the scope of proven approaches.

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