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Educational Provision

Volume 553: debated on Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Petition of teachers and pupils of St. Patricks and St. Brigid’s Primary School, Ballymena Primary School and Moorfields Primary School in the constituency of North Antrim,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that the promise made in 2000 to get every child into school by 2015 should be fulfilled; notes that with just three years left before the deadline, a surge of new energy is needed to give 67 million children the chance of an education; further notes that at the start of the race over 110 million children were missing out on school and although by 2008 this had dropped to 75 million, in 2012 the race has stalled; further notes that the number of children out of school has stayed at 67 million for two years; and that this number has fallen by 50 million over the last 10 years, but if we continue at the current rate of progress 48 million children will still be out of school by 2015; and notes that from those currently missing out on an education, one third of the children have a disability, 60% are girls and half of the world’s “out of school children” live in communities where the language used in schools is different from that used at home.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Prime Minister and the UK Government to raise educational provision with other world leaders at forthcoming international meetings and to make suggestions for further action before time runs out on the promise made in 2000 to get every child into school by 2015.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Ian Paisley, Official Report, 17 September 2012; Vol. 550, c. 752.]

[P001119]

Observations from the Secretary of State for International Development, received 19 November 2012:

Although significant progress has been made on the education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since 1999, it is a tragedy that 61 million children around the world are still out of school. Investing in education is vital, as education provides children with the best route out of poverty, giving them the power to improve their own lives and the lives of others in their community. This is particularly true for girls.

The UK Government are committed to helping meet the MDGs for education. In 2010 the UK pledged to support at least 9 million children in primary school, over half of whom will be girls, and two million children in secondary school, by 2015. We made this pledge in our document, “UK Aid: Changing Lives, Delivering Results”, which can be found on the DFID website at: www.dfid.gov.uk/aidreviews. Improving the quality of learning is crucial and all our programmes are expected to measure learning, in particular improvements in reading fluency in the early years.

We are playing our part in helping to achieve the MDGs of universal primary education and gender equality in education for all children. The Department for International Development’s 2012 Annual Report shows that UK is currently supporting 5.3 million children in primary school (2.5 million girls) and 600,000 children in secondary school of whom 260,000 are in lower secondary. The quality of education remains very low in many countries, we are therefore prioritising quality as well as access to education in all our programmes, and committing to measuring reading fluency in the early years. We have helped to train 90,000 teachers to improve the quality of education and assist children’s learning.

The UK Government are working hard to deliver a better future for every child but more needs to be done and this is a shared responsibility. We are working with others in many of the countries furthest from reaching the goal of universal primary education. In many of these poor countries, people with disabilities are among the very poorest and many are the hardest to reach children. In order to ensure that all children have equal access to education in the future it is vital that by 2015, the international community keeps its promise to achieve the internationally agreed target to support all children, boys and girls alike, to complete primary education.