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Universal Primary Education by 2015

The Millennium Development Goal of having universal primary education worldwide by 2015 is under examination. UNESCO put out a statement saying that achieving this goal is no longer possible, but European Union development commissioner Andris Piebalgs says otherwise.

UNESCO claims that the goal of having all children in schools is unattainable because of insufficient financing available for education.

The goal of Education For All was instituted in 2000, and 2015 was its target for completion. However, as of 2014, 58 million children around the world are still not attending school.

The report put out by UNESCO stated that governments have to be the ones to fix the problems, and called on them to be the leaders of the movement. The problem comes mostly from the inability to provide education to people who are living with disadvantages, including poverty, gender, location or other factors. Governments must reevaluate their efforts and concentrate on these groups of people.

Piebalgs believes that education must start with the government as well, claiming, “Education is the first sign of equality; [it shows] that each child has access to the education system free of charge and that a state is taking care of its citizens.”

If governments can reach out to these marginalized children, then there is a possibility to still reach the Millennium Development Goal by the end of next year. Simply getting children enrolled in school is easy to do and costs very little.

Piebalgs, however, has expressed concern about what is to follow. He said, “We’ve looked on education in a rather shallow way: we set the target of getting kids into school and that was it – we were just hoping that they would get something out of school.” Continuing, the former headmaster explained, “But for me, what is crucial is the quality of education you get: the quality is not less important than enrollment. [sic]”

The difficulty now is to determine whether simply putting these 58 million children in school over the next year is worth potentially losing the quality of the education that they may receive. Despite what may have to happen after 2015, getting these children enrolled in school and emphasizing the importance of education to them could be life-changing for them.

– Hannah Cleveland

Sources: The Guardian, The Daily Star
Photo: The Guardian