Asean countries have made progress in providing basic education to children but more needs to be done to bridge the disparities within the region, a United Nations report said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on the Education For All (EFA) report said, despite most Asean countries achieving high primary school enrolment rate, with some reaching over 90 percent, disparity between groups in those countries had also widened.
"For instance, while early childhood education have enjoyed much progress over the years, the same cannot be said for those in the rural areas who are still lagging behind," said Unesco's Regional Bureau for Education director Dr Sheldon Shaeffer.
Shaeffer was presenting the report entitled, "EFA Progress in Southeast Asia: Results and Recommendations of the WFA Mid-Decade Assessment", at the 43th South East Asia Ministers of Education (Seameo) conference in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia, on Thursday.
The EFA, commenced in 2000, set 2015 to achieve its goals which include expanding and improving early childhood education, ensuring that all children, particularly girls and children of ethnic minorities have access to education, and improving all aspects of quality of education.
"The question now is about the future of the children, what they should do after completing their primary education and what kind of schools they should go for their secondary education. I think this is the greater challenge that most Asean countries need to address," Dr Shaeffer said.