To improve children’s access to quality education, a three-day regional education conference was held from May 7 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

It included participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Education minister Norbu Wangchuk, who led the Bhutanese delegation said that in the country, the government has initiated reforms in improving access and facilities to provide quality inclusive education, making the curriculum engaging and relevant, improving teacher capacity, and setting standards of practice and ensuring student wellbeing.

“We are committed to ensuring that these reforms are materialised to reach out to every child,” he said.

A press release from UNICEF, Bhutan, stated that most South Asian countries have prioritised education and had been successful in getting children enrolled in schools. “However, significant challenges remain. The region is home to more than 20 million out-of-school children at the secondary level,” it stated.

Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia, Jean Gough, said that while impressive strides have been achieved in universal primary education, learning crisis exists 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.”

The Education Commission launched the Learning Generation in 2016, a report with an action plan for the largest expansion of educational opportunity in history.

The report highlights an ever-worsening learning crisis that, if left unaddressed, will leave half of the world’s 1.6 billion children and youth out of school or failing to learn by 2030.

UNICEF is collaborating with the Commission and working with governments to accelerate progress in education and increase financing for the sector giving priority to children most at risk of being excluded from learning.

UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta H Fore said, “There is no better path to stronger economies, more peaceful countries than investment in every child’s right to an education.”

Staff Reporter