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MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education

Achieve universal primary education

Today we continue looking at the connection between the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. The second of the MDGs is achieving universal primary education. This means that every child receives the equivalent of an American sixth grade education.

A sixth grade education does not sound like much, and for those of us in the West we often think of someone who’s formal schooling stops at elementary school as being at a massive disadvantage compared to others with a high school or college diploma or other advanced academic degree.

But with a sixth grade education comes at least basic literacy and arithmetic skills—skills vital for economic development. Farmers need to know what price they are paying for seeds, store owners need to read property leases, and parents need to read and understand medical dosage information for treating their sick children.

Current progress

According to the United Nations 2011 MDG Report, as of 2009 about 67 million children are still out of school, down from 106 million in 1999. Of that 67 million, about 48 million live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (32 million in Africa, 16 million in Asia). The biggest barriers for the 67 million children still out of school remain gender (being female), poverty and/or being located in a rural community.

Still, some of the poorest countries in Africa (including Burundi, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, and the United Republic of Tanzania) have managed to achieve the goal, giving hope that even the least developed countries can still achieve universal primary education by 2015.

How you can help

Jolkona supports a variety of projects aimed at achieving universal primary education. Here are a few:

  1. Provide tutoring to indigenous children in Guatemala
  2. Help teachers at a school in rural Zambia
  3. Support children’s education in India

For more information you can visit the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) education web site.

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

A few weeks back we began our discussion of the Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. Today we will continue by looking in depth at the first of the MDGs.

The first of the MDGs is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

Targets for eradicating extreme poverty

There are two target metrics the UN has set for the eradication of extreme poverty.

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1/day
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

Economists use two bars for determining who in the world is considered economically poor. The first, people living on $2/day, are considered “merely” poor. The second, those living on $1/day, are considered the “extremely poor”.

This may seem like a strange distinction to make but it’s important because while we would all like to see everyone living in poverty to have a chance at a better life, it is those living on $1/day or less who are the most vulnerable to climate change, natural disaster and economic hardships like recessions or changes in food prices.

The best way to lift these people out of poverty is meaningful work. Article 23 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”

Target for eradicating hunger

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people suffering from hunger

The most obvious cases of hunger are usually acute famines, such as what is currently transpiring in East Africa. A mix of political instability and climate change can create a situation in which crops are unable to grow, and people and livestock die as a result.

Food security is also an issue closely tied to poverty. People who are poor or extremely poor often cannot afford to buy the food they need for themselves or their families, especially in light of food prices that have risen sharply in the past few years. For some people, undernourishment or malnourishment is a way of life.

Poor nutrition hits children especially hard, and has long lasting effects. Children who do not receive a proper diet suffer from physical and mental developmental issues. This can range from simply being under-height and weight when they reach adulthood, to severe mental retardation as a result. According to one USAID report, even before the 2008 global financial collapse and concurrent rise in food prices, 178 million children (about 1/3 of all children) were suffering from chronic malnutrition.

What you can do to help

Eliminating extreme poverty and hunger would not just meet the first of the MDGs, it can have a huge impact on all the others as well. Here are some ways you can get involved through Jolkona supported projects:

  1. Provide seeds or farming tools to a family in Nicaragua
  2. Provide healthy meals for children in Uganda
  3. Help families fleeing famine in Somalia

For more information, take a look at the United Nations Development Program’s Millennium Development Goals page.

Here at Jolkona, we like to talk about how our projects line up with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But we haven’t talked much about what the MDGs are and why they are important.

What are the Millennium Development Goals?

The United Nations MDGs are the most current and probably most important multi-lateral development effort in the world to date. While “development” is a somewhat nebulous term, in this case it refers to any effort by governments or nonprofits to improve, among other things, the living conditions, health or education of a country or people group. This could range from small rural medical clinics to massive infrastructure projects such as new dams or highways.

Before the MDGs, development work was mostly done piecemeal, with organizations and governments determining their own goals and metrics for success. The MDGs represent the first time every member country of the UN — along with a number of nongovernmental organizations — agreed to the same development objectives, committing to see eight specific and measurable goals achieved by 2015.

History of the Millennium Development Goals

In 1996, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development began working on a framework for what the goals and strategies of development in the 21st century would look like. The Millennium Development Goals are the combination of that framework and the Millennium Declaration, a document signed by all United Nations member countries after the September 2000 UN Millennium Summit. Since that time the MDGs have been the main framework for doing global development work.

Eight goals for development

There are eight goals identified by the MDGs, the first seven of which are measurable and the eighth which is more of an ideal than a goal:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality rates
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental stability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Why Jolkona uses the Millennium Development Goals

Though Jolkona does not pick projects based on their connection to the MDGs, all of our projects align with them. Connecting our projects to the MDGs allows Jolkona and donors to track how our work is contributing to key development metrics. Not only can you see your donation’s impact on a micro level — through the feedback you receive from our partners in the form of school grades, photos or field reports — but you can also see how your gifts are making a difference on a macro level as countries achieve the various goals. Your funding one child’s education, for example, also moves the country that child is in closer to achieving universal primary education, the second MDG.

How to get involved

Now that you have a better understanding of what the MDGs are, take a look here on the Impact page of the Jolkona site to sort projects by the specific MDG they work toward. On each project page you can also see which MDGs that project aligns with (note the colored bars on the right in the image below).

For the most up-to-date information and statistics on progress toward the goals, take a look at the UN’s MDG homepage.

You can also keep an eye on our blog — in the coming weeks, we’ll drill down on each of the goals, talking more about what they hope to achieve and highlighting Jolkona projects that work toward them.

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