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UNESCO report: higher illiteracy rate, more waste in education than previously believed

More children across the world's poorer countries are illiterate than previously believed, according to UNESCO's education report. Poor access to education and poorly trained teachers lay at the root of the trend.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released its annual education report on Wednesday. The study, named "Education for All Global Monitoring Report," looked at the state of learning among the youth - children between the ages of 15 and 24 - in some 37 countries.

Roughly 250 million children in the world's poorest nations could not read part or all of a sentence, according to the UNESCO study. Most of the children came from Arab states, Sub-Saharan Africa or South and West Asia.

Furthermore, in roughly one-third of those countries, less than 75 percent of school staff members were qualified to teach.

"Access is not the only crisis - poor quality is holding back learning even for those who make it to school," UNESCO director general Irina Bokova wrote in the foreward to the report.

UNESCO's education report also found that, in addition to low enrollment rates, with 120 million primary school aged children having little or no experience with school, many of the nations surveyed were losing billions by failing to address education problems.

"The cost of 250 million children not learning the basics is equivalent to $129 billion, or 10 percent of global spending on primary education," the report said.

The report estimated that governments would have to recruit 1.6 million more teachers in order to achieve universal primary education by 2015.

kms/mz (dpa, AFP)