$1.64 billion needed annually to educate rural people and lift them out of poverty – UN

13 June 2006

With just over half of the world’s population living in rural areas, international donors would have to give $1.64 billion each year to meet the basic education needs of these people in low-income countries, with particular focus on the more than 94 million children who are out of school, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

With just over half of the world’s population living in rural areas, international donors would have to give $1.64 billion each year to meet the basic education needs of these people in low-income countries, with particular focus on the more than 94 million children who are out of school, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“Rural people with basic education are more likely to adopt new technologies and become more productive,” FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller told an international meeting on education currently underway in Rome, noting that living in a rural area in a poor country frequently means facing hunger and illiteracy.

“They can deal better with change, improve their livelihoods, and foster gender equality and active citizenship,” he added.

Education for rural people requires major investments by governments and donors in order to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to slash a host of socio-economic ills, such as extreme poverty and hunger, infant and maternal mortality, and lack of access to education or health care, all by 2015.

In the world’s poorest countries, where education is essential for poverty alleviation, the population will continue to be predominantly rural for decades to come, according to FAO. In rural areas, the proportion of out-of-school children is almost twice as large as that of urban areas. A large number of these children will join the ranks of the next generation of illiterate and poor adults.

The 12-14 June meeting, organized by the International Working Group on Education, is hosted by FAO as part of the Global Education for Rural People initiative launched by FAO and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Based on research on the interactions between education, skills development, agriculture and rural development, its objective is to empower the rural poor to become fully integrated actors in the development process. Currently, this FAO-led initiative focuses on building national capacities to address the challenges of education for rural people.

Participants in the meeting include FAO, UNESCO, other UN agencies, civil society and donors’ representatives.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.