UN goes online to educate rural people with tool kit to slash hunger and poverty
Efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of slashing world hunger and poverty in half by 2015 received a new boost today from an online educational tool kit targeting rural people, launched by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
For the first time, a wide range of teaching and learning tools for the education of rural people is available on the Internet, providing governments, international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), rural school teachers, extension agents and the public at large with the latest knowledge on how to help rural communities better their livelihoods.
“The tool kit will help policy-makers to implement education programmes and improve the quality level of education in rural areas,” said Lavinia Gasperini, an FAO expert who works in close collaboration with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other organizations on the Education for Rural People initiative, launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 in Johannesburg.
“You cannot promote agriculture if you fail to educate rural people. The first Millennium Development Goal – reducing hunger and poverty – will not be achieved unless we give a higher priority to improving education in rural areas, where the majority of the people live,” she added.
Hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity reduce school attendance and erode cognitive abilities. Conversely, illiteracy and lack of education reduce earning capacity and contribute to hunger and poverty. Education plays a fundamental role in improving the food security, incomes and productivity of rural people. It also helps to promote new technologies, as literate people are more inclined to adopt these technologies and to protect their environment.
The tool kit is a valuable resource for all those whose daily work consists of training the rural poor in food and nutrition, local knowledge systems, agrobiodiversity, food quality and safety, rural finance, marketing, forestry, fisheries, communication and other related issues.
According to latest estimates, “in the so-called global village, about 130 million children, the majority of whom are rural, do not have a pencil or a pen, nor a book, nor a teacher, and do not go to school,” Ms Gasperini said. These children will become illiterate adults who will join the 880 million illiterates in the world, the majority of whom are rural adults.