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goal 4
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is in charge of the implementation of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by the United Nations in 2016 to improve economic, social and political stability around the world through 2030.

The Millennium Goals Program

The goals range from clean water and sanitation, to increasing infrastructure and industrial development in cities. These new sustainable development goals are a legacy built from the UNDP Millenium Goals Program (MDGs) and strive to continue to the success of the older program.

The Millennium Goal program took place from 2000 to 2015 and its key achievements claimed by the UNDP are:

  • More than one billion people have been lifted out of poverty since 1990
  • Child mortality has dropped by more than half since 1990 along with the number of children out of school
  • The total number of HIV/AIDS infections has fallen by nearly 40 percent since 2000

While the UNDP claims that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals strategy is the most successful sustainable development project in history, the organization did state that there were lessons to be learned and more work to be done for future global endeavors. While many of the MDGs were interconnected, similarly to the SDGs, the MDG’s Goal 2 was to achieve universal primary education.

Goal 2 was largely successful. The literacy rate of people ages 15 to 24 was increased from 83 percent to 91 percent from 1990 to 2000 but the gaps between wealthy students and impoverished students and urban students and rural students still remain.

A Focus on Education

Goal 4 of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal strategy aims to combat this disparity by providing quality education. This task has numerous targets that it plans to reach by 2030 (the end of the program), and one that it plans to reach by 2020. The full list can be found on the UNDP’s Goal 4 targets page.

 Many of these targets make sure that not just boys and men receive help in their education process, but that girls and women do as well. For example, targets one and two specifically state boys and girls in regard to education in their wordings. Target one aims to provide better education and preparedness so that both girls and boys are able to complete free primary and secondary education.

Target two aims to provide early education so that children will have a better chance of completing their primary education. The third target aims to ensure the continuing education of men and women, and hopes to ease their access to tertiary education, such as technical schools, vocational schools and college.

Sustainable Development Goal 4

When searching for statistics about the accomplishments of Goal 4 thus far, it is difficult to see the impact. But it is important to remember that this program is a mere two years old.

Worldwide education statistics will still look similar to the end of the MDG program. However, one can see the seedlings that will sprout in the future and benefit individuals and society as a direct result of Goal 4. In fact, this fruition has already begun — India made Goal 4 part of their country’s “Vision 2030,” or the domestic plan for their future.

Strides in Educational Programs and Infrastructure

On September 1, 2016, or National Teachers day, a coalition program was launched by the government of India, private companies and the U.N. in which students will learn about the 17 Goals through cartoons and comics. These cartoons will be produced in six different languages and be shown in school and distributed around the country.

In 2015, Buenos Aires, Argentina founded a multilingual school, and despite common misconception, the school is not a Spanish to English school as many think. The school is actually a cooperation between Buenos Aires and Beijing that offers classes in the native languages of both countries — Spanish and Guarani for Argentina, and Mandarin and Cantonese for China. This initiative fits into both Goal 4 and Goal 17 of global integration.

Global Goals and Steps for Change

These are not the only initiatives related to Goal 4 implemented by countries looking to improve life for their citizens — SDG funding in Columbia is being used to improve rural education; funding in Mozambique is increasing access to professional training; and in Sri Lanka, food quality at schools is being improved.

With the U.N. groundwork, and cooperation and initiative taken by countries on Goal 4, it is easy to see how it will improve education around the world. 

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

MDGsAt the Millennium Summit in 2000, history was made when a record number of world leaders gathered to adopt the U.N. Millennium Declaration, committing nations to cutting extreme poverty in half through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and eradicate poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Through the agreement, the MDGs target different dimensions of poverty including hunger, disease, insufficient shelter, gender inequality, global education and environmental sustainability.

With an expiration date of December 2015, the achievements made through the MDGs provide evidence that poverty can be eliminated worldwide by 2030.

MDG 1: Cut Extreme Hunger and Poverty in Half

Since 1990, the amount of people living on less than $1.25 per day decreased from 1.9 billion to 836 million in 2015. While extreme poverty was cut in half, extreme hunger narrowly missed the mark, dropping from 23.3 percent to 12.9 percent.

MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Primary School Enrollment has seen a slight rise, increasing from 83 percent in 2000 to 91 percent in 2015.

MDG 3: Eliminate Gender Disparity in Education and Empower Women

Since 1990, approximately two-thirds of developing countries have achieved gender unity. In Southern Asia, the primary school enrollment ratio favors girls over boys in 2015.

MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality by Two-Thirds

The child mortality rate decreased from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6 million in 2015. In addition, the measles vaccine compared to 2000 covered almost 10 percent more children worldwide.

MDG 5: Reduce the Maternal Morality Rate by 75 Percent

Compared to 1990, the maternal mortality rate has been cut in half, narrowly missing the 75 percent benchmark.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Since 2000, the number of new HIV infections decreased by 40 percent, dropping from 3.5 million to 2.1 million in 2013.

MDG 7: Increase Environmental Sustainability

In 2010, the goal to increase access to clean water was achieved five years early. Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water.

MDG 8: Develop an Open Partnership for Development

Overseas development assistance from developed nations to developing countries increased 66 percent. With the expansion of technology, Internet infiltration increased significantly from 6 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2015.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: The Guardian
Photo: NaijaLog

Victories of the MDGsThe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the development foundation for the past 15 years, and as the movement comes to an end, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describes it as “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.” At the beginning of the millennium the world leaders gathered at the United Nations to strategize methods for fighting poverty; they created eight goals to guide them in fighting poverty in its many elements. The victories of the MDGs are as follows:

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The extreme poverty rate in developing countries was at 47 percent in 1990 and has since dropped to 14 percent in 2015. In those same 25 years the global number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 1,926 million to 836 million. And undernourished percentage in developing countries has dropped from 23.3 to 12.9.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

The number of out-of-school children has dropped by half between 2000 and 2015: 100 million to 57 million. In sub-Saharan African, net enrollment rate has increased by 20 percent from 2000 to 2015. The global 8 percent increase in literacy rates has also narrowed the literacy gap between men and women.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

In Southern Asia, for every 100 boys enrolled in primary education, 74 girls were enrolled in 1990, and now 103 girls are enrolled for every 100 boys. In 1990 women made up 35 percent of the paid workforce outside the agricultural sector; today they make up 41 percent of said work force.victories_of_the_MDGs

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality

The global number of deaths for children below the age of 5 has dropped from 12.7 million to 6 million between 1990 and 2015. The measles vaccination has prevented 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2013.

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

Globally, the mortality ration has dropped by 45 percent since 1990 with most of its decline occurring since 2000. Contraception use has increased by 9 percent among women between the ages of 15 to 49.

Goal 6: Combat HI/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

In 2003 0.8 million people with HIV were receiving Antiretroviral Therapy Treatment (ART), and by 2014 13.6 million people with HIV were receiving ART. Nine hundred million insecticide-treated mosquito nets were delivered to malaria prone countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2004 and 2014.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Since 1990, 1.9 billion people have gained access to clean, drinking tap water. Improved sanitation is now available to 2.1 billion people.

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Between 2000 and 2014, the official development assistance from developed countries rose from USD $81 billion to USD $135 billion. The global effort of the MDGs has also brought mobile-cellular signal to 95 percent of the world population, and access to Internet has grown from 6 percent to 43 percent between 2000 and 2015.

According to Ban Ki-moon, the MDGs results have taught world leaders lessons that will help with carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years. He said, “Reflecting on the MDGs and looking ahead to the next 15 years, there is no question that we can deliver on our shared responsibility to end poverty, leave no one behind and create a world of dignity for all.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: UN, The Guardian
Photo: Pixabay, Wikipedia

Education and the Sustainable Development GoalsLong idolized were the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight targets created and adopted by the United Nations in 2000. Central to their aim was the eradication of global poverty by improving maternal health and access to clean water, food and education while reducing the number of people living on under $1.25 a day across the developing world.

However, the days of the Millennium Development Goals are over. They expired this year after 15 years mixed with success and failure. A new set of global development goals is now on the horizon: the Sustainable Development Goals. Once again, there will be a specific goal tailored to improve equal education access for all. But before delving into how that goal is currently shaping up, it is worth examining how education fared with the Millennium Development Goals.

Goal two of The Millennium Development Goals aimed to achieve universal primary education. The goal only had one target: “ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.”

Unfortunately, this target was not met. On the bright side, the number of children globally that now attend primary school has risen dramatically since 1990. Enrollment in the developing world has risen to 91 percent, but the goal was for universal primary education, meaning all children everywhere. There is also still a fairly large gender gap in some areas. Of the 57 million kids out of school, 33 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa and 55 percent of those 33 million children are girls.

So where are the Sustainable Development Goals heading in terms of education development in the next 15 years? First off, education gets another specific goal for itself. The target this time is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” not all that different from the Millennium Development Goal before it.

The Sustainable Development Goals’ “vision is to transform lives through education, recognizing the important role of education as a main driver of development.” Looking to continue with the progress created by the Millennium Development Goals, goal four of the Sustainable Development Goals will look to expand access to all by providing 12 years of free, publicly-funded, high-quality equal education. Nine of these years will be compulsory.

Particular emphasis is put on the quality of education going forward. By increasing quality of education, the 100-year education gap between the developed and developing has the potential to be reduced. Another benefit of an improvement in the quality of education is that it will improve learning outcomes. How can this be done? By “strengthening inputs, processes and evaluation of outcomes and mechanisms to measure progress.”

Another facet to quality education is ensuring that the teachers are well trained, empowered, motivated and supported. This ensures a higher level of quality when it comes to education.

Often seen as a gateway out of poverty, education is an extremely important issue when it comes to development in the developing world. It will be interesting to track the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals’ development toward a fully-fledged goal. Hopefully, it can continue the inroads created by the Millennium Development Goals and improve education for the millions of children without it.

Gregory Baker

Sources: UNDP, UNESCO UN Millennium Goals, UN Sustainable Development,
Photo: Flickr

Universal Primary Education
“Education is not a way to escape poverty—It is a way of fighting it,” says Julius Nyerere, former President of the Untied Republic of Tanzania. He speaks to the undeniable correlation between successful, self-sustaining, developed countries and the level of education.

The United Nations saw the importance of education for the eradication of poverty. The period from 1997 to 2006 was declared the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. The Secretary-General of the U.N. put universal primary education at the focal point.

Efforts were made during the first decade including several U.N. summits and conferences that mobilized national, regional and international movements toward the eradication of poverty. However, poverty reductions have not been conclusive. Many parts of the world saw their poverty rates rise throughout the decade.

In 2007, the U.N. declared the Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. This second decade will last until 2017. The primary focus of the second decade will be to build upon the momentum the first decade produced. The already established and agreed upon Millennium Development Goals act as the central focal point.

The second Millennium goal is to achieve universal primary education, to “ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling”.

Progress has already been made. In 2010, 90 percent of primary aged children in developing regions were enrolled in school; in 1999 the number was 82 percent. Gender disparities in literacy have also narrowed, but over 60 percent of illiterate individuals worldwide are still women.

The U.N. recognizes the importance of education for the world’s poor. But, they are not the only ones. The progress is in part because of innovative social movements.

The Girl Effect is a self-described “movement.” Created by the Nike Foundation, with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls, the Girl Effect raises awareness about the untapped potential of girls who live in poverty and are not allowed an education.

Through powerful videos, a strong online presence and “hundreds of thousands of girl champions who recognize the untapped potential of adolescent girls living in poverty” the organization provides tools for change-makers around the world.

“Take our content. Use it. Share it. Join the movement. Change the world,” says its website.

Malala Yousafzai achieved worldwide renown for her courage and insight when she refused to allow the Taliban to stop her from advocating for universal education.

She describes the power of education in the context of international summits on funding global education, “These men and women from rich and poor countries will have the power to either help those children reach their potential, or leave them without the future they deserve.”

June 25 and 26 held the second Replenishment Pledging Conference for the Global Partnership for Education. Eight hundred participants from 91 countries attended the event, hosted by the European Commission in Brussels. Twenty-six  billion dollars was pledged to provide resources for basic education for the next four years.

The goal of the Global Partnership is to raise $3.5 billion from 2015 to 2018 in order to improve education for boys and girls in 66 eligible countries.

At a recent gathering at the U.N., 500 youth came together to celebrate global efforts, such as those made by the Global Partnership, and to encourage political leaders to keep striving for the second Millennium goal.

Malala was a speaker at this event, and she expressed her dream to see every child enrolled in school. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supported her viewpoint and raised the call for every young person to get involved in the effort for universal education.

“One may think, I’m just a young girl or a young boy, I don’t have any power, but each and every one of you can make a difference,” shared Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

As 2015, and the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium goals, draw nearer, it has become clear to the U.N. that the goals will not all be achieved. However, progress has undeniably been made, and the U.N. is making plans for a post-2015 development agenda.

– Julianne O’Connor

Sources: UNESCO, Global Partnership for Education, Girl Effect, United Nations, United Nations, The Guardian
Photo: UNICEF

Universal Primary Education
Since 1999, when 106 million children were not in school, much progress has been made. Today, approximately 61 million are out of school, and yet more progress is needed. In the past five years, due to the economic crisis, many nations decreased their foreign aid spending and thus progress was hindered. According to the World Bank and the U.N., the majority of children not attending schools live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with at least half living in areas that are politically unstable.

Despite some progress, it is crucial to note that there is a percentage of people/areas that is not accounted for in the statistics of progress and primary education. For example, according to the U.N., 90% of primary aged children living in developing countries are now in school as opposed to that percentage being 82% in 1999. While the rise in percentage sounds great, “broad figures [have the tendency to] mask localized problems,” and thus, in actuality some countries barely have any primary aged children attending school. The children who are most unaffected by the progress and recent advancement are the extremely poor and the minorities. Nigeria, Yemen, Ethiopia, South Sudan, India,  Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bangladesh account for half of the world’s children not going to school.

There is a demand for new donors or ‘funders,’ now that many nations have cut back on their foreign aid, from the private sector and through public fundraising. Part of the U.N. 2015 Millennium Goals was to ensure that all children have equal access to primary education and to increase females’ enrollment in schools. However, experts are claiming that education goals are difficult to reach due to issues such as child labor, cultural values, and other reasons. For example, in some cultures, it is valued more that daughters stay home while the sons receive an education. The women assume the housewife role while the men are valued to be the knowledgeable providers.

In addition to child labor and cultural values, there are many concerns regarding harassment and safety of the children attending schools. For example, some female students in Sierra Leone reported being sexually harassed by teachers in exchange for good grades. And it is almost impossible to forget the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl, who was shot by the Taliban for her advocacy of education for girls. Despite the unfortunates, where instituting education does work, it makes an incredible difference. Rebeca Winthrop, the director of the Center of Universal Education at the Brookings Institution in Washington, expressed that there are children who continue to learn even in refugee camps. Where there is desire, willingness, and determination, there is much hope for universal primary education and even further schooling.

– Leen Abdallah
Source: New York Times
Photo: Globalization 101