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By the numbers - Fragile states

Programmes to improve education in the most troubled countries need to move up a gear, according to a new report from US thinktank the Center for Universal Education at Brookings.

The report says that education is not always seen as a priority in fragile states - those where the state is unable to carry out basic functions. Instead, the emphasis is on tackling economic, legal and security issues, but authors Rebecca Winthrop and Elena Matsui argue that education can help in all these areas.

They claim that the development of skills such as literacy has an obvious impact on economic growth, and that education helps to create social, political and environmental standards. Education aid in fragile countries should therefore be far more ambitious and attract more resources, they argue.

The researchers point to the work of the Global Partnership for Education, which made fragile states a priority in 2012 and uses a pooled donor funding system that has made education aid more efficient. However, the call comes at a time when aid budgets in the developed world are shrinking as a result of the economic crisis.

In its 2013 report on 47 fragile states, including Afghanistan, Kosovo and Somalia, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development highlights the fact that educational development in these places is notably lagging behind progress in other developing countries.

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