News

Educators Analyze Progress in UN Development Goals on Global Education

Education officials and donors are meeting with representatives of international organizations this week in Senegal to discuss plans and progress towards the U.N. Millennium Development goal of universal primary education by 2015.  Halfway through the allotted years, participants say important progress has been made, but some education lobbyists say funding and political will fall far short.  Naomi Schwarz has more from Dakar.

In 2000, when the United Nations and world leaders made universal primary education one of their eight millennium development goals, more than 100 million children were not in school.  They aimed to bring that number down to zero by 2015. 

This week, marking the halfway point, ministers, donors, and others are meeting in Dakar to assess their progress.

Ronald Siebes is co-president of the U.S-based Fast Track Initiative, an organization aimed at channeling extra funding from partners including the World Bank, the United Nations, and the European Union to the poorest countries to help them achieve the education goals.

"We are really making progress," he said.  "There are huge challenges, but progress is being made to achieve this important goal."

After a slow start in the 32 countries funded by the Fast Track Initiative, their annual report says by 2010 most will have 100 percent of kids start first grade.

An official with the same organization, Desmond Bermingham, says countries in West Africa, whether funded by the Fast Track Initiative or not, are making progress.

"I would say the most critical issue is that the governments are making education a priority," he said.  "It is a political will issue and they are really making very rapid progress.  They have got a lot of catching up to do.  They are moving faster than any region has ever moved before."

But he says part of the reason is that West Africa had the farthest to go. In some countries in the region, more than three-quarters of school-age children do not attend school.

Bermingham says several countries are putting measures in place to block corruption in the education sector, rampant in many African countries.

"Where it is working really well is where there is a very short accountability line between the school and the parents," he noted.  "They have a really strong interest in making sure the money is used properly.  Several countries are now introducing systems of publishing the school budget in the newspaper or even on the door of the school.  Uganda is one of them, Kenya is one of them, and Niger has introduced a similar system."

But Lucia Fry, of the South Africa-based Global Campaign for Education, says if progress continues at the current pace, it will be impossible to meet the development goals by 2015.

She says aid falls far short of what is needed.

"Overall, we need another $6 billion U.S. per year just to get every child to complete a primary cycle of education," she explained.

And she says too much emphasis is being put on enrolling kids in school without ensuring that they stay long enough to finish.

"Although primary enrollment has risen we have also got in 50 countries worldwide, less than half of all children worldwide complete primary school," she added.

And she says there is still a long way to go to address the needs of children on the margins, including those with handicaps, who live in conflict zones, or who work to support their families.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs