Without urgent action, one in six children worldwide will be out of school by 2030, a new UNESCO report warns. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark told DW the world is walking towards "an enormous failure."
Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand, on Tuesday urged the international community to step up or risk leaving "close to a quarter of a billion children" behind.
UNESCO's new Global Education Monitoring Report shows the world is falling well short of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim, by 2030, to ensure that each child completes primary and secondary school.
Clark, who is now an education adviser to UNESCO, told DW there was a vast funding shortfall that urgently needed to be addressed.
"The donor community has stagnated what it is investing in poor countries for education over the last nine years or so. And it's estimated that we're about $39 billion (€35 billion) short on what would need to be spent to really reach those goals," she said.
The UNESCO report warned that without a significant funding boost, one in six children would be out of school by 2030. Current trends suggest that around 40% of children worldwide — and up to 50% in sub-Saharan Africa — will fail to complete secondary education.
"If we carry on as we are, complacently, we're walking towards an enormous failure," she said. "It's wake-up time. Otherwise, by 2030, we will still be seeing something close to a quarter of a billion children, adolescents and youth out of school. That's not a recipe for a peaceful world."
Clark, who headed the United Nations Development Program from 2009-2017, also stressed that education was a global concern, with poverty and lack of opportunity driving people to seek refuge in more prosperous countries such as Germany.
"It's an investment in our common human security to invest in education and support the poorest countries to get every child in school," she said. "Education is the key to getting people out of poverty."