Achieve Universal Primary Education
As the second goal in the MDG list, education, while
taken for granted in developed nations, in other parts of
the world, it is considered a luxury. Not only is it expensive
to attend school, as parents must buy supplies for the children
to use while in class, but when a child from a poor family
is in school, he/she is not helping the family with expenses.
Lack of education becomes a double-edged sword where parents
cannot afford to send their children to school and if the
children are illiterate, they have no opportunity of breaking
the cycle of poverty.
Moreover, country traditions and beliefs lead to gender biases where boys might be permitted to attend school but girls may not. Many nations feel that it is useless to send girls to school as their sole adult functions will be as the housekeeper and child rearer. Another set of nations believes that girls are lower class citizens not worthy of attending school. And the result of these inequalities leads to nations of illiteracy and ultimately discrimination waiting to be exploited by others.
In order to combat these issues, the target for basic education for both male and female children was established.
Target 1: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
Indeed, it may be difficult to change long-standing traditions or opinions but progress has been made as it relates to education. Additionally, many parents want to send their children to school and with help, they are able to do so. Projects that raise funds to build schoolhouses, donations of paper, pencils, textbooks, chalk, desks and chairs, as well as teaching the parents how to make a decent living so that the children are not required to work but may attend classes instead, all contribute to making universal primary education possible.
Here are a few excellent examples of how outside forces have aided in the pursuit of education for these children.
- Poorer girls in primary and secondary school grades
were not able to attend classes in Uganda for the full
month. Each week out of the month, when their menstrual
cycles arrived, because the girls could not afford expensive
imported sanitary napkins and tampons, they missed their
classes. But thanks to funding from the Rockefeller
Foundation, Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi of Makerere
University’s Faculty of Technology was able to create
a locally made, inexpensive pad out of papyrus reeds.
Trademarked "Makapads", not only do the pads allow girls to attend school each and every day, but many people are employed in curing the raw materials as well as manufacturing the pads and distributing them. The project was the winner of the UN- HABITAT's “Mashariki Innovations in Local Government Awards Programme, a biennial awards programme for the East African region that aims to alleviate poverty”.
- It is a well-known fact that hunger reduces a child's ability to learn. So in countries where children may attend school, if they come from poorer families with little available food, they are disadvantaged from the beginning. Also, in areas where food is provided at school, it becomes the reason children go to school as they can expect to receive a nutritious meal. In November 2008, the World Food Programme began its school lunch feeding programme in Western Nepal. As a result, “over 160 pupils come from villages around and some walk up to 10 kilometers every day in order to be there”.