Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Challenges of Attaining Millennium Development Goals in Education in Africa by 2015

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Challenges of Attaining Millennium Development Goals in Education in Africa by 2015

Article excerpt

Millennium Development Goals were established by the United Nations to help underdeveloped countries to overcome problems of illiteracy, poverty, low health status and quality of life. Much emphasis was placed on the attainment of MDG targets in education because of its pivotal role in national development. The targets include education for all through 100% gross enrolment rate by 2015, gender equality in access to education opportunities, eradication of adult illiteracy, and improvement of the quality of education. Nigeria was used as an example to examine challenges faced by the African continent in pursuit of MDG targets in education. Nigeria's experience revealed great increases in school enrollments with improvements in gross enrolment rates. But big gaps still exist between states and regions, and between targeted expectations and real achievements, particularly in reduction of gender disparity and adult illiteracy. To raise the prospects of goal attainment, African governments must see education as a right rather than a privilege, and therefore increase budgetary allocations to education. There is also critical need for prudent management of available funds and resources. All African countries should mobilize to provide free and compulsory basic education for the citizens, and organize more mass literacy and public awareness campaigns on the role of education in personal and national development.

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Towards the close of the last century, world leaders from both developed and developing nations met in order to evaluate progress made in social, economic and political dimensions of national and international development, and to strategies for improvements in the twenty-first century. It became clear from the analysis of realities on the ground that many United Nations resolutions and developmental targets had remained elusive while some important projects and programmes are either unimplemented or they could not yield the anticipated outcomes. Most worrisome was the fact that the gap between the developed and underdeveloped countries was widening rather than closing up. The interactions, awareness and negotiations led to the United Nations establishing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to guide plans and programmes of nations and development partners. The year 2015 was chosen as an important milestone at which point a comprehensive assessment of goal achievements would be made. Along the way, however, were specific targets to be met by 2005 and 2010.

Leaders of developed countries acknowledge the need to pay special attention to the African continent, particularly sub-Saharan Africa where poverty, hunger; illiteracy, undemocratic, despotic and corrupt governments and HIV/AIDS were ravaging the populace. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2002) identified 8 major Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to include eradication of extreme poverty and hunger' achievement of universal primary education; reduction of child mortality; improvement of maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, promoting gender equality ensuring environmental sustainability; and establishing a global partnership for development. In this paper, the focus will be on universal primary education, the eradication of illiteracy, and the crosscutting issue of gender equality and access to educational opportunity.

The African continent is the contextual framework for examining the challenges confronting us in the attainment of MDGs by 2015 with particular reference to education. But Africa has 52 independent countries. Each country is different in many respects, yet they all fall within the category of developing or underdeveloped countries. None of them has attained 100 percent literacy rate; life expectancy is below the world average; quality of life is low with many citizens living below poverty line which is less than one US dollar a day. These are some of the major indicators used by the World Bank to rate a country's standard of living. …

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