LONDON - The learning gulf across the globe is deepening, with schooling systems in some countries actually regressing, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Eighty-three countries were on track to deliver by 2015 an Education For All (EFA) target, set by the World Education Forum in Dakar two and a half years ago.
But at the same time, 70 other countries would fail to meet the target and some were actually going backwards, it said.
The problem was being made worse by a shortage of teachers -- some 35 million more are needed throughout the world.
The findings appear in the "Education
For All Global Monitoring Report: Is The World On Track?" published by the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"It reconfirms the Forum's diagnosis that almost one-third of the world's population live in countries where achieving the EFA goals remains a dream," said education expert and co-author of the report, Christopher Colclough.
The report said 28 countries accounting for 26 percent of the world's population might not meet any of the three measurable goals of Dakar -- universal primary education (UPE), gender equality and the halving of illiteracy rates.
Most of these were in sub-Saharan Africa, but the list also included India and Pakistan.
Another 43 nations accounting for 35.6 percent of the world's population risked missing at least one of the goals, the Paris-based UNESCO said.
"At current rates of progress, UPE is unlikely to be reached in 57 countries," the report said, adding that 43 of them including several in central and eastern Europe were actually regressing.
Efforts to achieve gender parity were making ground but still left much to be desired, while attempts to improve literacy rates were making relatively little headway.
"Unless a much greater effort is made, a total of 78 countries will not be able to halve their rate of illiteracy by 2015. These include four of the world's most populous countries, Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan," UNESCO said.
It added that these four together accounted for 61 percent of the world's illiterate adults.
However, efforts to hit the Dakar targets were being severely hampered by a
world shortage of teachers, with three million more needed in sub-Saharan Africa
alone out of the estimated need to find up to 35 million more worldwide.
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