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Learning English - Words in the News
18 April, 2005 - Published 11:03 GMT
UNICEF report on education
Mostly girls miss out on education, says UN.

The United Nations' children's fund, UNICEF, says 115 million children worldwide are still missing out on an education, most of them girls. 2005 is the year set by the UN to achieve gender equality in primary education. This report from Imogen Foulkes:

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UNICEF says many countries in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East cannot meet the target of gender equality this year. UNICEF is especially concerned about the situation in west and central Africa, where, it says, emergency measures are now needed to promote primary education. Only five countries out of 24 are set to achieve gender equality there. Conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo have done incalculable damage to children's education. In South Asia, UNICEF says, progress has been made but not enough. Forty-two million children across the region don't go to school. Afghanistan and Pakistan have the widest gender gaps. For Pakistan to have the same number of girls as boys in school by 2015, it would have to increase girls' school attendance by over 3 per cent each year.

And in eastern and central Europe there is cause for concern, too. The introduction of fees for tuition, schoolbooks and uniforms has led to rising dropout rates -- and girls drop out sooner than boys. Belarus and Tajikistan will not achieve gender equality, neither will Turkey. UNICEF says a quantum leap is now needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015, and insists the effort must be made. The UN's primary millennium development goal is the eradication of poverty, and education is fundamental to achieving that.

Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Geneva

Listen to the words

gender equality
the same privileges or rights for both sexes - here, the same level of education for boys and girls

emergency measures
actions taken to prevent a crisis

to achieve
to succeed in reaching a particular goal or standard

very large; too big to measure

the act of teaching something to a person or a small group

to drop out
to leave school without finishing your studies

a quantum leap
a sudden and important change

demands that something happens

the act of destroying or getting rid of something

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