India has slipped five ranks since last year to 105 on global education parameters leading to fears that the country would miss most of the millennium development goals for its children, according to a report by UN education watchdog UNESCO.
UNESCO's Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said despite remarkable strides towards the UN's Education For All by 2015 programme, huge gender disparity remains a problem for India. "Girls account for 66 per cent of out-of-the-school children in the region, the highest share worldwide," he said at UNESCO's regional conference on literacy in Delhi on Thursday.
Matsuura also pointed out that a large number of children leave school without basic literacy and numeric skills because of poor quality of education in most schools.
The report shows that India's gross enrollment ratio is about 95 per cent, but the overall dropout rate is as high as 14.4 per cent for Class I.
Among the dropouts, about 66 per cent are girls, the report says.
With these stumbling blocks, the report clearly says that India will not be able to meet the target of Education for All by 2015.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, however, reiterated that India would provide elementary education to all by 2010. But she admitted that the challenge was to ensure full enrollment, reduction in dropout rates and to impart quality education.
The UNESCO report projects that by 2015, India would achieve the literacy target of just 71 per cent although Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh promised to educate 85 per cent of the country's population by 2012. At present, one-third of world's illiterates are in India.
The report shows that India has improved on most education and child health indicators but other countries have done much better.