A solid basic education transforms a child's prospects. It doesn't just mean a better chance of a job rather than subsistence farming for an individual, and economic growth for a community. It means better health. Children whose mothers have completed primary school are more likely to have their immunisations, more likely to act on hygiene messages. And it means political empowerment, individuals more able to take part in decision-making. Universal primary education, unsurprisingly, is one of the key .
So it is particularly worrying that annual report, , reports a $7bn deficit in the aid needed to finance basic education by the target date of 2015. It also points out that while the UK and the Netherlands focus education spending on primary schools, both France and Germany spend most on paying for students to come to their universities.
Globally, 75 million children are not in school who should be. At last month's High Level Event on the MDGs commitments were renewed. But there is already a massive $30bn gap between what was promised the previous time donors were asked to recommit, in 2005, and what should have been delivered.
Making the commitment to universal primary education is the vital first step. But it is only the first step. As Amref reported when it first started working in , children often go to school hungry and are still hungry at the end of the school day. Around the world, a third of children in developing countries have been physically or intellectually damaged by malnutrition.
Sub-Saharan has made great strides in providing primary education. But even where children start school, they often don't stay to the end. Family demands for labour, the difficulty of paying for books or school uniforms, the lack of facilities for girls when they reach puberty all interrupt school careers.
The report emphasises how the global divide between rich and poor countries is mirrored within countries. Children in the poorest fifth of the population of Ethiopia, for example, are three times less likely to be in school than the children of the richest fifth. Inequitable education policies end up entrenching other inequalities.
The challenge of providing universal primary has exacerbated the pressure on education resources. In Katine, there are often 50 or more children in a class and only a handful of textbooks to share. This has been an for Amref, which has already distributed hundreds of books. Even where school attendance appears high, many children leave unable to read or write. Unesco reckons Africa needs nearly 4 million more teachers: the difficulty of recruiting women teachers in Katine illustrates the shortage.
"When financial systems fail, the consequences are highly visible and governments act," commented Koichiro Matsuura, Unesco director general. "When education systems fail the consequences are less visible, but not less real."