The FAO/UNESCO Education for Rural People flagship was officially launched during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, 3 September 2002
as a key activity to implement the Summit Plan of Implementation.
The ERP partnership foundations are to be found in the:
- Millennium Development Goals, and specifically Goals 1, 2 and 3. (New York, September 2000).
Illiteracy is a strong correlate of poverty and hunger and is mainly a rural phenomenon which hinders rural development and food security; threatens productivity and health, limits opportunities to improve livelihoods and to promote gender equity, since illiteracy is particularly high among rural girls and women.
This is the reason why MDG 1 (Reduce extreme poverty and hunger by half by 2015),
MDG 2 (Achieve universal primary education) and MDG 3 (Promote gender equity) provide the rationale for FAO's commitment to Education for Rural People (ERP). ERP also contributes to achieve all of the other MDGs as follows
: Goal 3 - The majority of the world illiterate women are in rural areas. The Education for Rural People programme contributes to increase the ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education (measured by indicator n.9) and the ratio of literate women to men (indicator 10) by promoting policies and capacity building activities aimed at fostering national capacity to reduce the gender related urban/ rural gap in education .
Goal 4 - Child mortality is higher among illiterate mothers and is directly correlated to mothers' years of schooling.
Also maternal mortality is thus higher in rural areas where women illiteracy is higher. The Education for Rural People programme thus contributes indirectly to MDG 4 by fostering policies aimed at increasing rural women literacy.
Goal 5 - Research indicates that maternal health and mortality is directly correlated to women's years of schooling. It is thus higher in rural areas where women illiteracy is higher. The Education for Rural People programme contributes indirectly to MDG 5 by fostering policies aimed at increasing rural women literacy.
Goal 6 - Research indicates that literate people are less likely to contract HIV as those who received little or no schooling. Since illiteracy and HIV are higher in rural areas, the Education for Rural People programme contributes indirectly to MDG 6 by fostering access to quality basic education services in rural areas and is particularly relevant to indicator n. 20.
Goal 7 - Environmental awareness and conservation attitudes are directly linked to years of schooling. More over, the Education for Rural People programme was agreed at international level to be one of the pillars of the "Decade of Education for Sustainable Development" launched by the WSSD and aiming at fostering environmental sustainability.
Goal 8 a- The Education for Rural People programme aims at mobilizing donors' political will for increased investments in basic education services for rural people and thus contributes indirectly to target 12 and 13 as measured by indicator n. 34.
Goal 8 b- Unemployment rate of young people aged 15-24 (as measured by indicator n.46 related to MDG Target 16) is directly correlated to literacy rates. Since illiteracy is higher among rural youth, the Education for Rural People programme contributes indirectly to MDG 8 by fostering access to quality basic education services in rural areas with special emphasis on rural youth.
FAO Constitution (Quebec, 16 October 1945).
Article 1 paragraph 2,b, of the Constitution stresses the importance of Agriculture Education for fulfilling its mandate by saying ” The Organization shall promote and, where appropriate, shall recommend national and international action with respect to: (…)
the improvement of education and administration relating to nutrition, food and agriculture, and the spread of public knowledge of nutritional and agricultural science and practice.
- World Food Summit (WFS)
Plan of Action (Rome, 1996).
Several committments of the WFS focus on Education.
Commitment one focuses on the need to ensure and enabling environment conducive to poverty eradication, durable peace and food security and engages governments (objective 1.4) in collaboration with civil society to support investments in human resources such as education, literacy, and other skills training, which are essential to sustainable development. Commitment two refers to policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality and improving physical and economic access by all, at all times, to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food and its effective utilization. It thus indicates - in objective 2.1 - the need to develop human skills and capacities through basic education and pre and on the-job training.
Objective 2.4 of Commitment two stresses the need "to promoting access for all, especially the poor and members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups to basic education" in order to "strengthen their capacity for self-reliance". To this end governments, in partnership with all actors of civil society are called to "promote access and support for complete primary education" with particular attention to "children in rural areas and to girls". Because the ERP partnership is considered an important activity in the follow up of the WFS Plan of Action it is also a key aspect of the International Alliance Against Hunger.
Article 3 of the EFA Declaration stressed that an active commitment must be made to removing educational disparities by focusing
on underserved groups as specifically among them, the poor, working children and rural and remote populations.
Article 5 of the same Declaration was focusing on the need for broadening the means and scope of Basic educational by also
focusing on basic skills training for youth and adults including agriculture techniques.
- The Education for All plan of Action (Jomtien 1990) and the Dakar Plan of Action (Dakar, June 2000).
The Dakar Framework outlines a number of goals in order to meet Education for All , each with special relevance to Education for Rural People. The first goal is the expansion and improvement of comprehensive early childhood care and education especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. This requires a special focus on expansion in underserved rural areas where the needs for childcare and pre-school are often greatest. Continuing on, the Framework calls for ensuring that, by 2015, all children, with a special emphasis on girls and children in difficult circumstances, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality. This goal compels governments to educate ALL children, including those most difficult to reach such as children living in remote and rural areas. Therefore, there is a need to seek them out and find ways to keep them in school or in alternative but equivalent programmes.
Furthermore, the Framework includes the goal to ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes. This requires that such programmes are appropriate also to the learning and working needs of youth and adults in rural areas. Another target has been set for a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults. The implication here is the need for special efforts in rural areas where most illiterates (especially women) live.
Additional goals of the Framework include the elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary which are greater in rural areas.
World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of implementations (Johannesburg, September 2002)
in relation to:
Chapter II, related to “ Poverty Eradication” by focusing on education and training and skills enhancement for rural communities: paragraphs 6(b),(c)(d) (e)(g)(i)(j);and 9(c);
Chapter IV. Related to “Protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development”. ERP is specifically relevant to paragraph 38 (a) because of the direct impact of basic education on sustainable agriculture and rural development and because education is one of the commitments of the World Food Summit.
Chapter VIII related to “Sustainable Development for Africa” and specifically paragraph 56 (e). ERP contributes to Sustainable Development in Africa by supporting the development of national programmes and strategies to promote education within the context of national strategies for poverty reduction in order to increase the capacity to achieve the internationally agreed development goals related to education. In order to ensure by the year 2015 that every children, boys and girls, rural and urban,have equal access to all levels of education relevant to national needs, a specific effort to reach rural people needs to be undertaken.
Chapter IX, related to “Means for implementation”. ERP is relevant to paragraphs 113 on eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005, since the greatest disparities are in rural areas; paragraph 114 on integrating sustainable development into the education systems at all levels; 115 ERP contributes to review the education action plans and programs to ensure that they are responsive to local rural conditions and needs; 116, ERP focuses both on the educational needs of the rural communities through formal and non formal education; 117 (d) ERP Is one of the key topics of the established decade on Education for sustainable development
Chapter X, related to the “Institutional framework for sustainable development “ paragraph 121 (g). ERP contributes to involvement of civil society and other relevant stakeholders in the implementation of Agenda 21 and contributes to the exchange of best practices in the context of sustainable development.
United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (December, 2002).
In December 2002, resolution 57/254 on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO was designated as lead agency for the promotion of the Decade.
ERP was identified as a key component of the Decade
United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December 1948).
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in article 26 states that "Everyone has the right to education.", a right which instead is widely denied to rural people. The declaration foresees compulsory and free primary education for all, general availability of and accessibility to secondary education, including technical and professional education, and higher education with progressive introduction of free education and liberty for parents to choose schools for their children.