Book Chapter

Universal Basic and Secondary Education

| January 2007



This chapter reviews the current status of efforts to provide high quality schooling to all children between the ages of approximately 6 and 16. It examines rationales for undertaking such an effort, describes the challenges and obstacles these efforts face, suggests means of improving education delivery, and reviews varying estimates of the costs of achieving universal basic and secondary education.

"Over the past century, three approaches have been advocated to escape the consequences of widespread poverty, rapid population growth, environmental problems, and social injustices. The bigger pie approach says: use technology to produce more and to alleviate shortages. The fewer forks approach says: make contraception and reproductive health care available to eliminate unwanted fertility and to slow population growth. The better manners approach says: eliminate violence and corruption; improve the operation of markets and government provision of public goods; reduce the unwanted after-effects of consumption; and achieve greater social and political equity between young and old, male and female, rich and poor (Cohen, 1995). Providing all the world’s children with the equivalent of a high-quality primary and secondary education, whether through formal schooling or by alternative means, could, in principle, support all three of these approaches.

Universal education is the stated goal of several international initiatives. In 1990, the global community pledged at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, to achieve universal primary education (UPE) and greatly reduce illiteracy by 2000. In 2000, when these goals were not met, it again pledged to achieve UPE, this time at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, with a target date of 2015. The UN Millennium Development Conference in 2000 also adopted UPE by 2015 as one of its goals, along with the elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2015...."

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For Academic Citation: Cohen, Joel E., David E. Bloom, Martin B. Malin, and Helen Anne Curry. “Universal Basic and Secondary Education.” In Educating All Children: A Global Agenda. January 2007.