On the Road to Universal Primary Education

July 13, 2005

Education is an end in itself, a human right, and a vital part of the capacity of individuals to lead lives they value. It gives people in developing countries the skills they need to improve their own lives and to help transform their societies. Women and men with better education earn more throughout their lives and participate more fully in the civic and political lives of their communities and countries. Particularly for women, education confers the skills and behaviors that lead to healthier lives. Education that reaches women, the poor, and marginalized ethnic groups not only benefits them directly; it contributes to a more equitable and just society.

Among the eight Millennium Development Goals issued in 2000, is a world commitment to ensuring that every child in every country will complete primary school by 2015; and that girls will be enrolled at the same rates as boys in primary, secondary and post-secondary education—ideally by this year, 2005, and certainly by 2015.

To achieve these education goals, countries at risk of failure and the international donor community must take bold action. Reaching the goals requires money—more money than is now spent in many developing countries or by agencies providing grants or low-interest loans. It also requires visionary political leadership in the rich world and a willingness to move well beyond business as usual in many developing countries.

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