The Education for Rural People (ERP) flagship works through the identification of political, institutional, organizational and individual opportunities and constraints that poor people face in accessing education and training services at all levels of education, in both formal and non-formal settings. ERP seeks to empower the rural poor to become fully integrated actors of the development process by promoting collaboration among the education, agriculture and rural development sectors to ensure education and skills training for all rural people (http://www.fao.org/sd/erp/). The strategy addresses research, knowledge generation and sharing, advocacy, policy and capacity development, as well as normative and field work.

Developing countries often face challenges in effectively delivering basic education services in rural areas because of the lack of trained personnel as well as an incomplete knowledge of policy alternatives. Weak coordination in addressing education in rural areas between ministries of education and agriculture, and with civil society is also a common constraint. Both FAO and UNESCO have been aware of these gaps, hence the launching of the ERP as a multi-partner, intersectoral and interdisciplinary capacity development initiative. ERP bridges the Earth Summit (1992), the World Food Summit (2006 and 2002), the WSSD (1992) and the EFA (1990 and 2000) policies and programmes. It also builds on the MDGs holistic policy approach that addresses economic growth and international competitiveness of the agriculture sector as part of the sustainable development and poverty reduction strategies, and includes education, health and social (also gender) equity and sustainable environment as key endeavours.

ERP is also one of the nine EFA flagships. The EFA flagships are multi-partner initiatives that focus on specific EFA-related areas and problems requiring special attention to implement the EFA Dakar Framework for Action. The ERP flagship is implemented under FAO leadership in collaboration with UNESCO and more than 400 partners.