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South Asian leaders discuss ways to tackle learning crisis in region
From:Xinhua  |  2018-05-07 18:48

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KATHMANDU, May 7 (Xinhua) -- South Asian leaders have gathered in Nepal on Monday to tackle the learning crisis across the region by discussing ways to accelerate progress towards giving all children the opportunity to go to school and receive a quality education.

Ministers, senior government officials, international education experts, development partners and civil society are in Kathmandu to participate in a three-day conference Delivering the Learning Generation in South Asia: Regional Conference on the Delivery Approach jointly organized by UNICEF and the Education Commission.

Inaugurating the conference, Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that delivery of education to millions of children and youth in South Asia is a matter of great importance for all the countries in the region.

"We should deliver such education that shapes the mind and rekindles human spirit. Education not only makes an individual a better person but also contributes to the goal of nation building and region-building," Oli said in his speech.

In context of Nepal, the prime minister said that the constitution of Nepal has guaranteed the right to get compulsory education at the basic level and free education up to the secondary level.

"Our priority to the development of children and expanding their education opportunities is in harmony with the international obligations to which we are fully committed to implement," the prime minister said.

According to UNICEF, many countries in South Asia have prioritized education and have achieved commendable gains in getting children into school, but significant challenges remain.

The region is currently home to more than 10 million out-of-school children who should be able to attend primary level and 20 million out-of-school children at secondary level.

"We have a learning crisis in South Asia with only about half of primary-aged children receiving education with minimum learning standards. We need much greater investment and increased quality education for girls and boys alike if we hope to see the next generation reach their full potential," Jean Gough, Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia said.

Only 69 percent of children have access to early childhood education and only a quarter of young people leave school with the secondary skills they need. The growing skills gap will stunt economic growth, with far-reaching social and political repercussions.

"Unless urgent action is taken, the region will fall short of meeting the Education Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education and learning for millions of children and youth by 2030," UNICEF said.