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The Progress of Nations 1997

The day will come  when nations will be judged  not by their
military or economic strength,  nor by the splendour of
their capital  cities and public buildings,  but by the
well-being of their peoples:  by their levels of health,
nutrition and education; by their opportunities to earn a
fair reward for their labours; by their ability to
participate in the decisions that affect their lives; by the
respect that is shown for their civil and political
liberties;  by the provision that is made for those who are
vulnerable and disadvantaged;  and by the protection that is
afforded to the  growing minds and bodies of their children.
The Progress of Nations, published annually  by the United
Nations Childrens Fund, is  a contribution towards that day.

                           * * * *
1. Foreword by Kofi A. Anan, Secretary-General United Nations

2. Charting progress for children:  Introduction by Carol Bellamy,
   UNICEF Executive Director

3. Water and Sanitation
   Commentary - The Sanitation gap: Development's deadly menace
   3.1 Sanitation League Table
   3.2 Water/sanitation gap widening
   3.3 79% of all guinea worm cases occurring in Sudan
   3.4 Grading school sanitation: Few high marks
   3.5 Making ORT a household habit

4. Nutrition 
   Commentary - Putting babies before business
   4.1 Nutrition League Table
   4.2 Exclusive breastfeeding: A chance for survival
   4.3 One in five babies too small at birth
   4.4 Stunting: A scar and a wound
   4.5 Slow starters catching up in salt iodization

5. Health
   Commentary - Fighting AIDS together
   5.1 Gauging AIDS' terrible toll
   5.2 Health League Table
   5.3 Pneumonia: K=Little progress on a big killer
   5.4 52 countries falling short on immunization goal for DPT
   5.5 Neonatal deaths: 5 million each year
   5.6 Malaria's death toll: A child every 30 seconds

6. Education
   Commentary - Quality education: One answer for many
   6.1 Doing more with less
   6.2 Girls' education: Commitment or neglect?
   6.3 Maths and science: Some developing countries score high
   6.4 Do teachers make the grade?
   6.5 Rural kids short-changed

7. Women
   Commentary - The intolerable status quo: Violence against
                women and girls
   7.1 Women's League Table
   7.2 Outlawing violence against women: A first step
   7.3 Risk of death in childbirth can be as high as 1 in 7
   7.4 A bill of rights for women, but with reservations
   7.5 Help wanted: Skilled birth attendants

8. Special Protections
   Commentary - No age of innocence: Justice for children
   8.1 Old enough to be a criminal?
   8.2 Over 7 million children are refugees
   8.3 Hidden killers
   8.4 The cost of war: Billions for development diverted to

9. Industrialized Countries
   Commentary - Healthy cities, healthy children
   9.1 Youth unemployment rate highest in Spain, lowest in Austria
       and Switzerland
   9.2 Teens at risk: Drinking and bullying
   9.3 Sharing the wealth? Aid at lowest level in 45 years

10 Statistical Tables
    Social Indicators for Less Populous Countries

   Statistical Profiles for 149 countries
    The age of the data
    Statistical tables are available at the UNICEF website
                      * * * *

6. Education

Quality education: One answer for many questions

Harry Sawyerr*

Three years before the millennium, 140 million children are
still not in school, despite government pledges to achieve
universal access to basic education by the year 2000. Many of
the youngsters  who are in school find themselves squeezed
onto crowded benches in dilapidated classrooms, lacking even
a slate, while a teacher drills lessons by 
rote. Over the past 20 years, while countries rushed to
increase the numbers of schools and teachers, quality and
relevance of education often took a back seat. But quantity is
not an acceptable trade-off for quality, and it is time to put
more attention into what takes place in the classroom.

How can we instil an understanding of fundamental human
rights? Achieve sustainable social and economic development?
Resolve ethnic conflict? Stop gender disparity? Put an end to
child labour? Eliminate the sexual exploitation of children?
Give hope to a new generation of children growing up in an
ever more complex world?
The answer is education - quality, relevant education that
prepares our young people to participate meaningfully in their
own development, both in their immediate communities and in
the larger world. Education is a fundamental human right -
pledged by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Without
it, few if any of these problems can be solved.

Not only do good schools instil basic skills in children, they
also educate them about their rights - and shield them from
violations of those rights. The International Labour
Organization has said that the single most effective way to
stem the flow of children into abusive forms of employment is
to extend and improve schooling so that it will attract and
retain them. 

It is no secret that most countries are falling far short of
fulfilling the promise made at the World Summit for Children
in 1990: universal access to basic education by the year 2000.
About 140 million young people are currently not in school,
and almost 1 billion adults, two thirds of them women, are

The obstacles to education are the same ones that have
undermined economic and social advancement: widespread
poverty, lack of skilled personnel, top-down bureaucracies,
the inferior treatment of women, rapid population growth,
skewed distribution of education funds, bloated military
spending and onerous foreign debt burdens. But in the end, all
the reasons add up to one: insufficient will. 

Education requires a greater commitment than any other
development activity because it is not a one-time injection
but a continuous, labour-intensive process. It requires
skilled, highly trained staff to dedicate year after year of
patient toil. It requires quality curricula and plenty of
books, slates and chalk. It requires buildings and benches. To
provide these tools, countries - and parents - must make the
decision that educating a child is worth sacrificing other
priorities. Education simply cannot be sold short. 

If the will can be found, so can the funds. In sub-Saharan
Africa, for example, just an extra $2.5 billion (about 20 per
cent of the $10 billion to $13 billion annual cost of
servicing the over $200 billion foreign debt) would provide a
seat in a classroom for every child. Reallocating one third of
the regions military spending would do the same. Worldwide, if
just $3 billion to $6 billion of the estimated $680 billion
currently spent on the military per year could be diverted to
education, most experts believe that every child would have a
place in a decent school.

This is not happening. In Africa, average per capita education
spending declined from $41 in 1980 to $26 in 1985, and in
1995, it stood at only $28. These figures actually
underestimate the decline in spending because they are not
adjusted for inflation. The portion of international aid
dedicated to education declined steadily from 17 per cent in
1975 to 9.8 per cent in 1990, increasing slightly to 10.7 per
cent in 1994.

After the 1990 World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien,
Thailand), countries around the globe made the push to get all
their children in school. The emphasis was on quantity -
numbers of schools, numbers of teachers, numbers of children
enrolled. Those efforts are not lost, but they are not enough.
Parents can recognize poor schools and they do not send their
children to them; youngsters quickly lose interest when the
curriculum and teaching style do not suit their needs.
Insufficient quantityof schools and teachersis certainly the
main explanation for the failure so far to achieve universal
access to basic education. But another important reason is
insufficient quality and relevance, for they lead to
disenchanted families and wasted resources.

If parents are persuaded that education is more valuable in
the long term than their childrens contribution from an
unskilled job or domestic duties, they will do whatever it
takes to send their children to school. In some cases,
economic necessity keeps children at home. Some youngsters
begin school but drop out because they are inadequately
prepared: They are malnourished and cannot pay attention, or
they did not have the physical and emotional attention in
early childhood that is essential to the development of young
minds and bodies. These problems are well known, and if we are
not addressing them, the quality of our schooling is surely

Teachers are key

The classroom needs to be a stimulating place for childrenand
that depends on quality teachers. According to some
projections, low-income countries (not even including China
and India, the highest population countries) need about 4.5
million more teachers to achieve universal primary education
by the year 2000 - 1.8 million more than will exist if current
trends continue. There is simply not enough time to build all
the training colleges needed if we are to achieve the goal of
education for all by the year 2000. To do so, we must find
alternative ways to train teachers, such as on the job,
through regular sessions and seminars. 

One model for improving teacher training is Indias Teacher
Empowerment Project. Begun in 1994, it is now in place in two
of Indias poorest states, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The project, also known as Shikshak Samakhya Pariyojana, or
equal say, is based on the idea that local control improves
teachers self-respect and builds trust and cooperation between
teachers and communities. The project em-phasizes
teacher-to-teacher skills training and makes use of re-source
centres where teachers can exchange ideas. It encourages
individual attention to students and includes singing, dancing
and art in the curriculum.

In Zimbabwe, education was revamped after independence in
1980. Now, training combines full-time study with on-the-job
learning in the classroom. Teacher salaries rise with each
successfully completed year of study, leading to full
qualification and pay. Antiquated pay scales based on race and
gender have been abolished. For the first two years, there was
a shortage of qualified candidates, but the success of the
programme soon brought an influx of skilled teachers into the
countrys classrooms. 

Regular, high-quality in-service sessions are part of the
reason why the Escuela Nueva approach has been so successful
in raising enrolment in rural Colombia. Workshops provide
teachers the opportunity to share ideas and methods,
especially important in areas where they may be isolated from
their peers. The benefit of ongoing training lies not just in
the specific techniques the teachers learn but also in the
underlying message that their professional skills are valued. 

Escuela Nueva schools also succeed because they are relevant
to the students lives and lifestyles. The learning process is
dynamic, with extensive student participation, and flexible,
allowing students to proceed at their own pace and to take
time off when necessary, such as during the harvest. The
curriculum is practical, covering such topics as farming and
local customs.

The cost of teachers

Preparing an Escuela Nueva teacher costs only about $500 more
than regular teacher training, and it has been a worthwhile
investment. In just 15 years, 2,000 schools blossomed into
20,000. Drop-out rates have fallen and scores on achievement
tests have improved.
Teacher pay is another key issue for improving the quality of
primary schooling. Salaries are the major share of education
budgets50-60 per cent for education as a whole and even more
at the primary level.

Nonetheless, teachers are widely underpaid and in many
countries make poverty-level wages. In Uganda, for example,
teachers salaries are below the poverty line and lower than
the pay of other skilled professionals. As a result,
headmasters often provide supplements with funds collected by
Parent-Teacher Associations, which means that teacher incomes
depend on the ability of parents to bear extra costs. Thus,
wages vary widely from region to region.

After major declines in pay in Africa and Latin America during
the 1980s, there is growing recognition that low salaries have
hindered attempts to attract and retain qualified
professionals. Incentives can help make up the difference. In
Indonesia, for example, teachers in rural or other less
desirable areas receive a 50 per cent salary bonus. Many
African countries require villages to house rural teachers. In
Tanzania, the lack of accommodation for teachers in rural
areas became so severe that in 1991 a presidential fund was
established to help resolve the shortage. 

Another way to control expenditures while improving quality is
to use lower cost teaching assistants recruited from the local
community. Assistants spare teachers from routine tasks and
allow them to spend more time working with students. And,
through ongoing training, paraprofessionals can gradually work
their way into the professional ranks.

These are all innovative strategies to squeeze every last bit
from the funds available, an activity that becomes even more
important when demand for schools is expanding. But efforts to
stretch budgets must not be allowed to undermine the quality
of education. While Myanmar has undergone rapid expansion of
primary schooling, in 1993-1994 two thirds of its teachers had
no training and only 4 per cent had access to in-service

Tanzania illustrates what can happen if funds are cut when
spending is already at a minimum. In response to repeated
calls by international donors to reduce per-pupil
expenditures, the country cut education expenditures
dramatically. A 1990 survey found that half of all primary
school teachers were depending on other sources of income and
a quarter of secondary school teachers were holding down
additional jobs, sometimes cutting class hours short to do so.
Dilapidated schools lacked chairs and were jammed with an
average of 60 students in every classroom. Books and materials
were almost non-existent.

The dearth of supplies is a serious impediment almost
everywhere in the developing world. A 1995 study in 14 of the
worlds least developed countries found that in 9, fewer than
half the classrooms had a usable chalkboard. Children need to
read daily to solidify their skills, but in 13 of the 14
countries, at least 70 per cent of pupils had no books at
home. In most African countries, pupils must provide their own
notebooks, pens and slates. Since books are often imported and
therefore very expensive, few children have any books at all.
In 1990 in Tanzania, an average of 12 students were sharing
each book.

In these situations, parents and communities are asked to fill
the gap. In Viet Nam, communities have been reasonably
successful at providing school buildings at low cost through
voluntary labour and contributions. In Uganda, construction of
primary schools has been left entirely to parents and
communities, resulting in great discrepancies from one
community to another. Fewer than half the countrys classrooms
are permanent structures, and in some regions, almost half the
classes are held outdoors for lack of classrooms. Currently,
1 million children (one third of those aged 6-10) are not
enrolled in primary school.

When communities and parents are simply asked to pay the bill,
they may view education as a burden. But if they are given a
meaningful role, they usually contribute willingly. In Guinea,
for example, parents take part in resolving issues such as
quality of teaching. Committees of parents and community
members have also been formed in Zimbabwe to encourage
participation in planning and managing education. 

Curricula for today

Once they arrive in the classroom, primary school teachers
often find a curriculum that is out of date and irrelevant to
the lives of the students. But revising it is primarily a
question of political will, as Zimbabwe found soon after its
independence in 1980. Over a period of about two years, panels
of teachers, university educators and government officials at
national and local levels collaborated in the effort. The new
curriculum highlights the countrys history and culture, the
environment and national unity. Care was taken to include
people of different ethnic groups in illustrations and

Once consensus on content was achieved, attention turned to
textbooks. Commercial publishers were encouraged to develop
their own books, as long as they matched the curriculum.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education printed inexpensive
booklets on newsprint and distributed them free of charge so
that every school would have a basic supply. For the first 11
years, the Ministry required that textbooks be published in
the country. Along with getting learning materials into the
hands of its students, Zimbabwes policy turned publishing into
one of the most vibrant industries in the country. 

The curriculum used in the schools of the Bangladesh Rural
Advancement Committee, or BRAC, aims to teach basic literacy,
numeracy and social awareness, while also developing the
childs creative and social skills through poetry, crafts and
singing and dancing.  

BRAC is probably best known for its success in placing girls
in quality schools. In its 30,000 schools, which aim to serve
the poorest families, two thirds of the seats are filled by
girls. BRAC succeeds in part by building its facilities in
rural villages close to childrens homes and giving preference
in hiring to women, who make up about three quarters of the

The success of the programme demonstrates that the goal of
universal primary education cannot be achieved unless efforts
are made to make schooling equally accessible to girls. In the
developing world, 20 per cent of girls are not enrolled. Just
one in four of Burkina Fasos school-age girls attends school,
and in Yemen, 39 per cent of girls are enrolledcompared with
73 per cent of boys.

Girls lower rates of school attendance result from a
complicated set of issues stemming from poverty and cultural
practices: their domestic duties, teachers preferential
treatment of boys, the lack of female teachers, fear of sexual
harassment and rape, distance from schools, lack of sanitation
and traditions that put greater value in educating boys than

These obstacles are hard to overcome, but political will and
demonstrated support for girls have already made a big
difference in many cases. Schools in countries including
Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan and Senegal adapt to accommodate girls
domestic and other responsibilities. Throughout the developing
world, new cadres of female teachers are easing parents
concerns about sending their daughters to school. 

Localizing education

Here in Ghana, a quarter or more of all girls are not enrolled
in primary school. Getting them into the classroom is one of
the goals of our current programme to improve education
quality. This activity has paralleled efforts to recover from
the devastating economic decline of the 1970s and early 1980s. 

In 1980/1981, just before the reform began, educations share
of the national recurrent budget was 17 per cent, but by 1994
it had reached a peak of 41 per cent, with a budget of 187
billion Cedis ($100 million). Although it dropped to 35 per
cent in 1997, the share of the education budget devoted to
primary schooling climbed  to 66 per cent this year, from 44
per cent in 1984.

After a decade of reform, we are working to improve the
quality of instruction, strengthen and decentralize management
and make sure more children have a seat in the schoolroom. In
1996, we initiated a plan for Free, Compulsory and Universal
Basic Education, or FCUBE, aimed at expanding access,
improving teaching quality and increasing efficiency in

One of our main objectives is to localize education. District
Education Oversight Committees and local School Management
Committees have been established nationwide to participate in
teacher recruitment and school upkeep. FCUBE also provides
scholarships for girls. The quality of teaching is receiving
a big boost with teacher colleges earmarked for renovations
and new training programmes.

A new curriculum is being developed, and our policy requiring
that children be taught in their mother tongue for the first
three years of primary school will be more vigorously pursued.
The curriculum will continue to ad-dress new challenges and
trends, such as teen pregnancy, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, safe
motherhood and the environment. Science resource centres are
being established in all 110 districts, building know-how in
science and computer literacy to prepare our children for the
futureand the present.

The challenges faced by all countries in fulfilling peoples
human rights are substantial. Education is not only a
fundamental right, it is also the best tool governments have
for guaranteeing that their citizens have the ability to claim
their other rights.

In the early 1990s, more than one quarter of the 94 million
children who enrolled in school in developing countries each
year did not reach the fifth grade. More than 25 million girls
and boys walked through the classroom door full of excitement
and anticipationonly to have their hopes thwarted. That is a
human tragedy. If we can find the will, we can create schools
that fulfil their hopes and dreams.   

                           # # # # #

*Harry Sawyerr recently retired as Minister for Education of
Ghana, a position he had held since 1993. He spearheaded the
development of the strategic plan for the country's major
education reform, the Free, Compulsory and Universal Basic
Education programme, kicked off in 1996. In 1995, Mr. Sawyerr
was elected President of the Caucus of African Ministers of
Education and Chairman of the Bureau of African Ministers. His
career in public service spanned almost 30 years.

Progress and Disparity

Doing more with less

When it comes to getting young people into the schoolroom,
some countries are doing far better than others with
comparable or higher incomes. Thirteen countries have primary
school enrolment rates 10 or more percentage points above the
average rates for their per capita GNPs. In contrast, 13 other
countries have rates 10 percentage points or more below
average for their income.

Among the poorest countries, with per capita GNPs below $300,
Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi and Viet Nam have enviable enrolment
rates of over 80%, about 20 percentage points above what could
be expected at their income level. But in a similar income
bracket, Ethiopia, Haiti, Mali and Niger enrol less than 30%
of their primary school age children. Malawi's rate compares
well even with that of Saudi Arabia (not in the table), which
at 63% is 20 points lower than Malawi's, although its per
capita GNP ($7,040) is 40 times higher than Malawi's. 

Zimbabwe (per capita GNP of $540) has a remarkable 90% rate;
Guinea, at the same economic level, comes in under 35%.
China's rate of 95% is an impressive 20 percentage points
above the average rate for its income; in the same income
category, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal have rates nearly 30
percentage points below average.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child mandates that
countries make primary education free and compulsory, and the
World Summit for Children goal for the year 2000 is universal
access to basic education and completion of primary school by
at least 80% of primary school age children.

              Enrolment and GNP per capita

                 Enrolment      GNP/cap
                   total        (1995)

China               95           620 
Zimbabwe            91           540 
Honduras            90           600 
Viet Nam            88           240 
Kenya               84           280 
Malawi              83           170 
Bangladesh          82           240 
Georgia             82           440 
Nicaragua           79           380 
Mongolia            78           310 
Zambia              77           400 
Nepal               69           200 
Tanzania            64           120 
Mauritania          54           460 
Comoros             51           470 
Cote d'Ivoire       48           660 
Guinea-Bissau       45           250 
Senegal             45           600 
Bhutan              41           420 
Chad                41           180 
Guinea              33           550 
Burkina Faso        33           230 
Niger               27           220 
Haiti               26           250 
Mali                25           250 
Ethiopia            21           100 
Note: Table includes only those countries that have annual GNP
per capita below $800, school enrolment rates 10% or more
above or below the aerage and data from 1990 or later.
Enrolment figures are for children aged 60 to 10 years except
Burkina Faso, 7-13 years; and Niger, 7-12 years.

Sources: Demographic and Health Surveys, and other national
surveys, various years over period 1990-1995.

Progress and Disparity

Girls' education: Commitment or neglect?

Twelve countries with annual per capita GNPs below $500 show
little or no disparity between girls' and boys' primary
school enrolment rates. However, in 8 countries with incomes
in the same range, girls' enrolment lags 15 percentage
points or more behind 

Girls' enrolment: A primary problem in 8 countries
Primary school enrolment in countries with per capita GNP
below $500

                Gender gaps 3%          Gender gaps 15%
               percentage points        percentage points
                  and under                  and over

                 %point gap                % point gap

Nicaragua          *-3            Benin           36
Haiti              *-1            Yemen           34
Bangladesh           0            Chad            28
Malawi               0            Guinea-Bissau   26
Rwanda               0            Togo            22
Zambia               0            Nepal           20
Georgia              1            Gambia          18
Ghana                1            Niger           15
Madagascar           1         
Kenya                2         
Mauritania           2         
Nigeria              2         
Note: A negative gender gap indicates a higher enrolment
rate of girls.

Sources: UNESCO and UNICEF.

Progress and Disparity

Math and science: Some developing countries score high

In the largest-ever international education survey,
13-year-olds from Singapore outscored those from 40 other
countries and areas in mathematics and science tests.
Students from the Republic of Korea placed second in maths,
and those from the Czech Republic stood second in science.

In addition, Thailand achieved higher scores in maths than
wealthier countries such as Denmark, Germany, Spain and the
United States, and performed almost as well in science.
Iran, with relatively low scores, is close to Denmark in
science. Six of the top 15 places in both maths and science
went to students from Eastern European countries, while some
wealthier industrialized countries, including France,
Germany and the United States, were not in the top 20.

The tests were given to the students as part of the Third
International Mathematics and Science Study. Comparisons of
factors such as class size, spending per pupil and class
time spent on subjects indicate that none of these alone
determines how well students perform. 

National wealth clearly does not always predict educational
performance. Six countries with per capita GNPs of less than
$5,000 had maths scores higher than other countries with per
capita GNPs 5 times greater. 

Educational success and wealth

Per capita                       Per capita
GNP less         Maths            GNP more
than $5,000      score           than $25,000

                  643             Singapore   
                  605             Japan   
Czech Rep.        564      
Slovakia          547      
                  545             Switzerland   
Bulgaria          540      
                  539             Austria   
Hungary           537      
Russian Fed.      535      
Thailand          522      
                  509             Germany   
                  503             Norway   
                  502             Denmark   
Overall average   500             United States   
Latvia*           493      
Romania           482      
Lithuania         477   
Iran              428   
Colombia          385   
South Africa      354   

*Latvian-speaking students.

Source: Reports from the Third International 
Mathematics and Science Study 1994-1995, 
November 1996.

Student achievement in maths and science

Eighth graders' scores on the Third International
Mathematics and Science Study

                    Math       Science
                    Score      Score

Singapore            643        607 
Japan                605        571 
Rep. of Korea        607        565 
Czech Rep.           564        574 
Belgium (Fl.)        565        550 
Hong Kong*           588        522 
Bulgaria             540        565 
Netherlands          541        560 
Slovenia             541        560 
Austria              539        558 
Hungary              537        554 
Slovak Rep.          547        544 
Australia            530        545 
Russian Fed.         535        538 
Switzerland          545        522 
Ireland              527        538 
Canada               527        531 
U.K. (England)       506        552 
Sweden               519        535 
Thailand             522        525 
Israel               522        524 
Germany              509        531 
France               538        498 
United States        500        534 
New Zealand          508        525 
Norway               503        527 
U.K. (Scotland)      498        517 
Spain                487        517 
Belgium (Wa.)        526        471 
Greece               484        497 
Iceland              487        494 
Denmark              502        478 
Latvia**             493        485 
Romania              482        486 
Lithuania            477        476 
Cyprus               474        463 
Portugal             454        480 
Iran                 428        470 
Kuwait               392        430 
Colombia             385        411 
South Africa         354        326 

Note: Countries are listed in order of combined maths and
science scores.  There are two U.K. entries, from England
and Scotland, and two entries from Belgium, for Flanders and

*Study carried out prior to reunification with China.

**Latvian-speaking students.

Sources: Reports from the Third International Mathematics
and Science Study 1994-1995, November 1996.

Progress and Disparity

Do teachers make the grade?

School enrolment ratios are a fundamental indicator of a
country's commitment to education, but they tell nothing
about the quality of teaching. A pilot survey of 857 primary
schools in 14 least developed countries (with GNPs per
person below $1,000) sponsored by UNESCO and UNICEF points
to teacher education and absenteeism as two areas in dire
need of improvement.

In 8 of the 14 countries, more than 50% of primary
school teachers have only 8 to 11 years of schooling - or
less. In Benin, Tanzania and Uganda the rate is above 90%.
Benin and Tanzania have compensated for lack of education by
training almost all their teachers, but only 50% of Uganda's
teachers are trained. And in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and
Togo, more than 25% of teachers have no training.

In 9 out of the 14 countries, 10% or more of teachers
were absent two or more days during the week before the
survey, and in Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia 25% or more were
absent. However, the survey counted attendance in training
courses among the reasons for absenteeism. Other reasons
include teachers' health, family sickness or other family

Most of the countries surveyed face economic distress;
however, investment in education, beginning with the basics,
is one of the most important steps in promoting social
progress and economic development.

Primary school instruction quality in least developed
                                                % teachers
     % teachers with       % teachers        absent at least
     a lower secondary     without teacher   2 days in week 
     education or less     training           before survey

Bangladesh    44               18                   8 
Benin         92                1                   2 
Bhutan        30                8                  14 
Burkina Faso  70               27                  10 
Cape Verde    87               35                  10 
 Guinea       77                8                   8 
Ethiopia       0               13                  18 
Madagascar    46               10                  18 
Maldives      89               22                   8 
Nepal         32                3                  11 
Tanzania      91                0                  38 
Togo          77               41                   7 
Uganda        91               50                  30 
Zambia        24               14                  25 
Source: A. Schleicher, M. Siniscalco, and N. Postlethwaite,
The Conditions of  Primary Schools: A Pilot Study in the
Least Developed Countries: Report to UNESCO and UNICEF,
September 1995.

Progress and Disparity

Rural kids short-changed

In Burkina Faso, 75% of primary school age children in urban
areas attend school, but in rural areas only 26% do. The 49
percentage point gap is the greatest among 41 countries
surveyed during the period 1990-1995; in Mali, Morocco,
Niger and Senegal the gaps exceed 30 percentage points.
Nearly two thirds of the countries surveyed have urban/rural
gaps of at least 10 percentage points or more. In only 3 of
the 41 countries - Bangladesh, Kenya and Namibia - are
attendance rates in rural areas slightly higher than in
urban areas.

The surveys also measured disparities between boys' and
girls' school attendance and found that these were not as
great as those between urban and rural attendance. In only 2
of the 41 countries - Yemen and Nepal- were gender
disparities greater than urban-rural differences. In Yemen,
the attendance rate for girls is 34 percentage points lower
than for boys. In Nepal, it is 20 percentage points lower.

Disparities between regions within countries are also often
significant. In India, the rate of primary school attendance
in Kerala is 95%, while in Bihar it is 51%. The rate in
Lower Egypt is 89%, but drops to 69% in Upper Egypt.

                 % urban    % rural     % point 

Burkina Faso        75         26          49 
Niger               62         20          42 
Morocco             73         35          38 
Mali                50         16          34 
Senegal             65         32          33 
Madagascar          84         54          30 
Nigeria             89         59          30 
Zambia              79         50          29 
Yemen               79         51          28 
Congo, Dem. Rep.    76         48          28 
C. African Rep.     70         44          26 
Haiti               86         60          26 
Guatemala           73         51          22 
Cote d'Ivoire       64         43          21 
Guinea              47         27          20 
India               84         64          20 
Ghana               82         63          19 
Cameroon            76         59          17 
Rwanda              64         47          17 
Uganda              78         62          16 
Egypt               93         78          15 
Pakistan            75         60          15 
Nepal               82         68          14 
Mauritania          61         48          13 
Dominican Rep.      88         76          12 
Tanzania            74         62          12 
Algeria             97         88           9 
Columbia            94         85           9 
Malawi              91         82           9 
Zimbabwe            87         78           9 
Indonesia           97         89           8 
Myanmar             91         84           7 
Paraguay            84         78           6 
Peru                90         84           6 
Philippines         81         75           6 
Turkey              74         70           4 
Bolivia             90         87           3 
Jordan              98         96           2 
Kenya               83         84          -1 
Bangladesh          72         74          -2 
Namibia             75         77          -2 

Sources: Demographic and Health surveys and other national
surveys, 1990-1995.

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