Health and economy before education
Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, education was already severely underfunded in many countries, and the current situation is causing great concern to aid organisations such as SOS Children's Villages and others. The goal of the Global Sustainability Agenda was to guarantee every child in the world a quality education by 2030 - but this was around USD 148 billion short of the target. "This financial gap could grow by a third, according to estimates. In most countries, revenues have fallen massively. At the same time, the countries have additional tasks to cope with", said Boris Breyer, spokesman for SOS Children's Villages worldwide. At present, the focus is on allowing available money to flow into the health care systems and ensuring that companies in need of support are financially secured. However, on today's World Literacy Day (8.9.2020), it should not be forgotten that education also plays an important role, which must not be missed completely.
Vicious circle of poverty and lack of education
The effects of the lack of financial injections could be catastrophic. Experts at the World Bank estimate that per capita spending on education, for example in sub-Saharan Africa, could fall by 4.2%. In developing countries, up to USD 150 billion less is planned to be used for the education budget next year. On top of that, in the already very poor countries, there are the new problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which will plunge an estimated 100 million people into extreme poverty. It goes without saying that basic needs such as food and medicine will take precedence over schoolbooks - at the same time, the goal of providing all children with an adequate education will slip away. This leads to a vicious circle, because those who cannot read, write and calculate will most likely not be able to escape poverty. This makes it more and more necessary in poor families to send children to work - who in turn will not receive a propereducation. It would now be important to support education as well as health and the economy in the global financial packages.
Not only in the third world
The situation is serious: according to the UNESCO Statistical Institute, there are around 750 million people over the age of 15 worldwide who cannot read or write. Almost two thirds of these are women, the proportion of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 is over 100 million. Almost half of all those affected live in South Asia, but the lowest literacy rate is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 35% of all people can neither read nor write. But whoever thinks that illiteracy is only a problem of poor countries is wrong. In Germany, for example, 6.2% of German-speaking adults between the ages of 18 and 64 are so-called "functional illiterates", i.e. they cannot read or write coherent texts, but only individual sentences. The difference is that it is much easier to get help in this area. World Literacy Day is intended to highlight the global difficulties in the education sector, and this year it also shows that because of the coronavirus, not all other problems must be forgotten; otherwise the virus may one day be under control and we will be faced with the shambles of problems that we have ignored in the meantime.