About 72 million primary school age children do not attend school. Over four out of five of these children live in rural areas. The urban-rural knowledge and education divide is today’s main barrier to achieving universal primary education by 2015. At the same time the learning ability of rural children is compromised by hunger and malnutrition. Food security and education need to be tackled simultaneously to develop the capacity of rural people to feed themselves and overcome poverty, hunger and illiteracy.
FAO is the UN lead agency for Education for Rural People (ERP), a network of about 370 partners including governments, civil society and the private sector. ERP fosters rural peoples’ capacity to be food secure and to manage natural resources in a sustainable way through increased access to quality education and skills training for all rural children, youth and adults. FAO also provides technical assistance to member countries for implementing school gardens and school-feeding programmes, which can encourage school attendance and bring direct nutritional benefits to children.