Millennium Development Goal of Education within Reach

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The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals created by the United Nations to make the world a better place. They have a target date of 2015, and each country is supposed to meet the goals. These goals include reducing extreme poverty (for those who live on less than $1.50 a day) by a half, stopping HIV/AIDs, and reaching a point where every child receives a primary education around the globe. This goal of education is within reach. The UN wishes to make sure that all children, including girls, can have the opportunity to complete primary schooling. This is not a simple task, considering the lack of gender equality and even opposition to females getting education in some countries, but it is entirely possible. (Note: empowering women and reaching gender equality is another Millennium Development Goal).

According to the UN, in 2010, developing countries had 90% overall enrollment in primary education, which was an increase from 82% in 1999, showing that in a decade enrollment went up nearly 10%. Most of the children out of school who are primary school age are located in sub-Saharan Africa or Southern Asia. In addition, along with primary education, the higher rates of enrollment have also inspired the UN to focus on secondary education, as well, to increase global education even further. In 2010, 95 women for every 100 young men were literate, which is an increase of 5 from 1990. Literacy has almost reached gender equality on a global scale.

Recently, Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister turned U.N. special envoy for global education, hosted a gathering of important school and finance ministers from 8 countries that were lacking in regards to school enrollment, and the Millennium Development Goal of education. At this point, 61 million children of primary school age are not enrolled in school, but Brown believes this is a fact that can be changed in the next three years. In the last decade, 45 million children were enrolled in school that previously were not, which shows a change can be made. The past few years have shown a lag in enrollment due to struggling economies, but this does not have to be the end of the story.

The meeting held by Gordon Brown indicated that officials are aiming to have a fresh start with the Millennium Development Goal of universal education by 2015. This meeting included funders, international agencies, and officials of off-track countries. The meeting was meant to determine what has been stalling the enrollment of children over the past five years and remedy anything that could be fixed. Brown said that the main issue to deal with is how to help the children that are most isolated or marginalized.

The poorest children are the ones that have the most difficulty going to primary school. In the most poor countries, the average school enrollment for primary school is 81%, indicating that wealth has a strong connection to access to education. The main barriers at this point are overcoming issues facing the poor, ethnic minorities, and girls. The large figures can mask the struggles of some poor countries; although globally, there is 90% enrollment, some countries have much less, and need to be helped.

The countries that came to this meeting include Sudan, India, Ethiopia, and Haiti. Brown and other officials, such as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from the U.N. and President Jim Yong Kim from the World Bank, have discussed with the poor countries’ officials on how to reach the children still not in school. The main response they had was the lack of funding. Brown has put on the search for new funders. Several Millennium Development Goals have been reached, including cutting back on child mortality and limiting those in extreme poverty. Raising primary education enrollment is the next step.

According to Brown, given more funding, initiatives can be launched to fight each of the eight countries’ issues, including child labor and female discrimination. Brown ended the meeting by saying that to get these children into school does not require a huge leap in technology or medical science. Rather, it merely requires the funding to implement already-known measures, and a global population that wants it to happen.

– Corina Balsamo

Sources: NY Times, UN, One
Photo: UNICEF

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