About 58 percent of urban and 40 percent of rural males above 60 years of age are literate in Bangladesh, while only 24 percent of urban and 12 percent of rural females over 60 are literate, says UNESCO's fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 4).
The new report, however, reveals that this disparity between men and women has been addressed in newer generations, with literacy rates at 80 percent and 74 percent among urban and rural boys aged 10-14, while 83 percent among urban and 81 percent among rural girls of the age group.
Adult education is central to sustainable development and economic growth. However, in almost one-third of countries, fewer than five percent of adults aged 15 and above participate in education and learning programmes, said a UNESCO press release today.
Disadvantaged groups, in particular, are often deprived of their right to education. Adults with disabilities, older adults, refugees and migrants, and minority groups are among those losing out, according to the report.
The report also found that in Asia, community learning centres (CLCs) have come to play an essential role in providing the rural population with appropriate Adult Learning and Education opportunities.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have significantly increased the number of CLCs, which has dramatically increased the number of rural learners in literacy, life skills and various vocational programmes.
Overall, the GRALE report warns major change in adult education participation is required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The report calls for a sea change in approach, backed by adequate investment, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access and benefit from adult learning and education and that its full contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is realised.
The findings of the global report are based on data submitted by 159 countries. To reach the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and other SDGs by 2030, the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education recommended better data, particularly for low-income countries and marginalised or vulnerable groups, such as migrants and refugees; and increased investment in adult learning and education, from governments, employers and individuals.
The report suggested donor countries to live up to their aid obligations to developing countries and rebalance their funding of education to support the education of adults as well as children; more research on good practices, particularly when it comes to vulnerable and excluded groups; and recognition that investment in adult learning and education has social, civic and economic benefits.
The global report stressed the need for an integrated, inter-sectoral and inter-ministerial approach to governance to enable Member States to realise the wider benefits of adult education to the greatest extent possible, with resources allocated accordingly.