Basic education for rural people needs US$1.64 billion a year
Priority to rural areas to achieve the MDGs
13 June 2006, Rome – Donors would have to give US$1.64 billion each year to meet basic education needs for rural people in low-income countries, FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller said at an international meeting on education (12-14 June) attended by FAO, Unesco, other UN agencies, civil society and donors' representatives.
Mr. Müller, who heads the Sustainable Development Department at the Rome-based UN agency, stressed that external assistance is badly needed for more than 94 million rural children who are out of school. He also invited the international community to address rural-urban education disparities.
Education for rural people requires major investments by governments and donors in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the UN's Education for All targets.
Today, just over half of the world's population lives in rural areas. In the globe's poorest countries, where education is essential for poverty alleviation, the population will continue to be predominantly rural for decades to come, according to FAO.
Living in a rural area in a poor country frequently means facing poverty, hunger and illiteracy. In rural areas, the proportion of out-of-school children is almost twice as large as that of urban areas. A large number of these children will join the ranks of the next generation of illiterate and poor adults.
“Rural people with basic education are more likely to adopt new technologies and become more productive. They can deal better with change, improve their livelihoods, and foster gender equality and active citizenship,” Mr. Müller said.
A global initiative
The meeting, organized by the International Working Group on Education, is hosted by FAO as part of the Global Education for Rural People initiative launched by FAO and Unesco at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Based on research on the interactions between education, skills development, agriculture and rural development, its objective is to empower the rural poor to become fully integrated actors in the development process.
Currently, this FAO-led initiative focuses on building national capacities to address the challenges of education for rural people.
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