This chapter presents the background of the study, the statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objectives, research questions, hypothesis, scope and significance of the study.
1.1 Background to the study
The background of the study presents the historical, theoretical, conceptual and contextual perspectives.
1.1.1 Historical Perspective
The second millennium development goal provides for Universal Primary Education under the Education for All initiative. In 1990, 155 countries made a commitment to make primary education accessible to all children and to dramatically reduce illiteracy before the end of the decade (UNESCO, 2010). This commitment was reaffirmed at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, upholding the fact that under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that all children, young people and adults have the human right to benefit from an education that will meet their basic learning needs in the best and fullest sense of the term, an education that includes learning to know, to do, to live together and to be (UN, 2008). The Rights of the Child are even older and date back to as early as 1924, when the need to extend particular care to the child was stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child by the League of Nations. Education was not yet part of the children‟s rights in the Geneva Declaration, but the United Nations lays particular emphasis on education for all.
The Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), states that: “the States Parties to this Constitution, believing in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, are agreed and determined to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives” (UNESCO, 1945). A few years later, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, which includes the right to education in Article 26:
“Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory” (UDHR, 1948). The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959, has a similar principle (no. 7) but it wasn‟t until the year 1990 that the Convention on the Rights of the Child came into force as an international law. The right to education is stated in Article 28 and 29 and declares primary education compulsory and available free to all (UN, 2008).
The goals formulated by the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 are more extensive than the Millennium Development Goals with respect to Education for All. The Dakar Framework for Action was aimed at achieving the following: expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children; ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality (UNESCO, 2010); ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes; achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults; eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls‟ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality; and improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills (UNESCO, 2010).
The second goal in the United Nations Millennium Development Goal is to achieve Universal Primary Education, more specifically, to ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. The UN acknowledges that education is vital to meeting all other Millennium Development Goals, since educating children gives the next generation the tools to fight poverty and prevent disease, including malaria and AIDS. Since 1999, there has been great progress towards achieving universal primary enrollment due in large part to a pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) initiative. However, the number of primary school age out- of school children dropped by 42% between 2000 and 2012, despite rapid population growth.More than half of countries and regions worldwide have a net enrolment rate of more than 95% and either already have or are close to achieving universal primary education (EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/4). However, despite an increase in enrollment over the past decade, global progress has stalled since 2007, and net enrolment or attendance is less than 80 per cent in about 20 countries. Despite the significance of investing in education, a UNESCO/UNICEF report titled “Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global
Initiative on Out–of–School Children,” found that the world missed this 2015 target of universal primary education, and as of 2016, there were 58 million children of primary school age who were out of school worldwide (UNESCO/UNICEF, 2016).
1.1.2 Theoretical Perspective
The study was guided by the Systems theory which posits that systems consist of more than just the sum of its parts and are made up of three parts, which are elements, interconnections, and purpose (Meadows & Wright, 2008). The purpose of a system is the most important part of a system‟s behavior as it reveals itself through the series of events of time, by uncovering the interactions and connections between how information flows from one event or element to the other (Meadows, 2008 p. 188). In addition, Bertalanffy (2006) explained general systems theory as the science of wholeness and the complex interacting of components. Therefore, moving toward understanding wholeness as an integration and focus of developing a unifying principle within the universe. Consequently, both Bertalanffy (2006) and Dempster (2008) explained that systems theory is instrumental in developing a clearer understanding of elements and their interrelationships while the system operates under the constraints of specific conditions, although Bertalanffy (2006) took a more mathematical approach.
The main elements in general systems are stock, flow, and feedback. A stock is the history and record of information exchanged dependent upon flow and feedback (Dempster, 1988 p. 12-18). These elements then make it possible to maintain equilibrium, observe dominance, observe delays and oscillations, manipulate constraints, and monitor the world and function from a different perspective. The flow and feedback elements are known as the interconnections. When these elements and interconnections take place in an isolated environment it is called a closed system (Bertalanffy, 2006).
Although, (Bertalanffy, 2006) later explained that through that definition of systems, “every living organism is essentially an open system,” which fluctuates dependent upon the continuous flow and feedback from other elements and level of focus. (Poincare,2001) first uncovered this phenomenon when discussing the notion of space and dimensions with their relationship to a continuum, by therefore creating divide lines, points, and surfaces to interact. Dlakwa (2008) summarizes Bertalanffy‟s concept of a closed system as being “determined by the internal conditions” and an open system as being a long-term interaction and emergence of events from other conditions. In short, demonstrating the importance of understanding these interconnections, how they operate, and lead to purpose.