More than two-thirds of schoolchildren in low-income countries will not learn basic primary level skills in 2030 despite an ambitious goal to get every child in school and learning, according to a report launched today by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World notes that without an urgent increase in education investments by national governments, children in low-income countries will remain trapped in intergenerational cycles of poverty and be left without the skills and knowledge they need to contribute to their societies and economies when they reach adulthood.

“Every child, in every country, in every neighbourhood, in every household, has the right not only to a seat in a classroom, but to a quality education – starting in the early years of life, the single most important stage of brain development,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We need to invest early, invest in quality, and invest in equity – or pay the price of a generation of children condemned to grow up without the knowledge and skills they need to reach their potential.”

The report shows that more than 1.5 billion adults will have no education beyond primary school in 2030. UNICEF backs the recommendations made in the report and calls for an increase in national education expenditure from 3 per cent to 5 per cent to help address what could be a global education crisis.

Other key findings from the report:

• Only half of primary-aged schoolchildren and little more than a quarter of secondary-aged schoolchildren in low- and middle-income countries are learning basic skills.
• 330 million primary and secondary school students do not achieve even the most basic learning outcomes.
• The crisis is growing as populations grow – there will be an estimated 1.4 billion school-age children in low- and middle-income countries by 2030.
• Twice as many girls as boys will never start school.

"We face the civil rights struggle of our generation – the demand of young people for their right to education and the ticking time bomb of discontent that results from the betrayal of the hopes of half of an entire generation,” said Chair of the Education Commission and UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. “We cannot accept another year or decade like this. The Commission aims to unlock the biggest expansion of educational opportunity in modern history."