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Gartner: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Education is Key

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Education is the Key Missing Link

David Gartner, Co-Director, Center for Universal Education

The Brookings Institution

July 30, 2010 —

President Obama is releasing a plan for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 in advance of the largest gathering of world leaders in at least a decade at the United Nations. While the Administration’s outline includes useful ideas on tracking development outcomes and increasing transparency and accountability, it also represents a missed opportunity to deliver on Obama’s commitment to invest $2 billion in a Global Fund for Education to achieve universal primary education. For most of the MDGs, particularly those that are most off-track, success will be nearly impossible without the achievement of universal primary education, MDG 2. With 72 million children still not in primary school, achieving universal education would offer extraordinary leverage in the broader fight against global poverty.

While there is some progress in poverty reduction for MDG 1: “Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,” there is much less progress on the commitment to halve the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015.  Child malnutrition is a key dimension of world hunger and 137 million children under the age of 5 are still underweight globally. Educating women is an important tool for reducing child hunger, according to a cross-country analysis of 63 countries. The study found that educational gains in women’s education accounted for 43 percent of all progress in reducing child malnutrition.

MDG 3: “Eliminate gender disparity,” commits to closing the gender gap in all education levels and increasing female representation in the wage employment and national parliaments.

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