Basic education

Areas and approaches

Hand of a man writing in a notebook

In SDG 4 of the 2030 Agenda, the international community pledged to give all children and young people access to inclusive and equitable quality education by 2030.

Early childhood learning

Target 4.2. of the 2030 Agenda specifically calls for measures to ensure that "all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education." So far, however, no universal standards have yet been determined for the age of entry into and the duration of kindergarten or preschool programmes. Furthermore, it is difficult to compare and assess the quality of the various – often private – programmes.

According to the 2017 Global Education Monitoring Report, as few as 21 per cent of the countries that were assessed in 2015 had introduced compulsory preschool programmes. Only 17 per cent of the countries had at least one year of free compulsory preschool education.

The BMZ has made early learning part of its education strategy and is promoting pertinent measures in Peru, Egypt and Honduras. In other countries, primary education projects have been expanded to include preschool learning. The BMZ also provided funds between 2013 and 2015 to support education projects implemented by 21 civil society organisations focusing on early childhood learning. Projects relating to health, nutrition and child protection also have an impact on early childhood development.

Primary education

School bags in the playground of a school in Amman, where Jordanian and Syrian children are taught in double shifts.

Once the foundation stone has been laid in early childhood, primary education provides the basis for lifelong learning. Not only are reading and writing most easily learned at primary school age, social and behavioural skills, abstract reasoning and moral conduct are all developed during this phase of life.

Despite the significant progress made in recent years, almost 10 per cent of children of primary school age still do not go to school. Sizable deficits can also be noted as regards education quality. Properly trained teaching staff with the required technical knowledge and good teaching and educational skills are in short supply, as are suitable curricula and teaching materials. Improving the quality of education is one of the priority areas of German development cooperation.

Promoting mother-tongue education

In multilingual societies, the language of teaching in primary schools often plays a key role in determining a child’s educational prospects. In Latin America, Germany has long been supporting the introduction of mother-tongue education for indigenous children whose native language is not Spanish. Projects of this kind have been successfully concluded in Peru and Bolivia. In Guatemala, too, the introduction of intercultural bilingual education in Guatemala is bearing fruit.

In a number of African countries (for example Mozambique and Malawi), the BMZ has facilitated the production of school books and other books in local languages.

Secondary school education

Class in Burkina Faso

So far, secondary school education has played but a minor role in international goals and targets. With the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda this is all changing: the goal defined in target 4.1 is to ensure, by 2030, that all children and young people complete secondary education.

Enrolment rates for secondary education worldwide increased from 43 to 84 per cent in the period from 1970 to 2015. There are large regional disparities, however. While almost all young people in North America and western Europe move on to secondary school after completing primary school, the corresponding figure in Northern Africa and the Western Asia is only 85 per cent, and in sub-Saharan Africa only 64 per cent of youths in the relevant age group go on to secondary education.

BMZ support in this area is focused primarily on building secondary schools and girls' hostels and on supporting school twinning arrangements.

Non-school basic education

Students at a lecture in the auditorium of the Institute for Training and Applied Agricultural Research in Katibougou, Mali

Basic education also includes non-school (non-formal) education programmes that teach basic life skills. This is a way to ensure that even people who did not have the opportunity to attend or to complete school as children have a chance to partake in economic and social life, and lead self-determined lives. The spectrum of non-formal education includes general, vocational, cultural and political education for children, young people and adults. Information on health and hygiene, nutrition and family planning, or about career opportunities and funding options, for instance, is also included.

The BMZ's support in this area is primarily channelled through cooperation with the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV International). Adult education is also integrated into projects on vocational training, for example.

BMZ glossary

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