Saturday, March 03, 2007

Millennium Development Goals

Part of the fanfare for the new millennium was the United Nations announcement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are eight broad goals and 18 specific targets. Each target is expressed in unequivocal terms that are easy to measure – the whole world can see when targets are not being met.

Goal 1, Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, has two specific targets –
  • Target 1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day
  • Target 2. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
As we are now halfway to the target year of 2015, it is time to look at what progress is being made. This graph shows the overall picture for Tanzania.

It is clear that, while progress has been made since 1990, at the current rate the 2015 targets won’t be met.

The UN reports that in terms of progress regarding the specific MDGs, by 2004 Tanzania had achieved targets in
  • Primary school net enrollment (MDG 2 Universal Primary Education)
  • Equity in primary education (MDG 3 Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women)
  • Access to safe water (MDG 7 Ensure Environmental Sustainability).
  • Tanzania is also on track to meeting female ratio targets in secondary schools (MDG 3) and other targets for MDGs 2 and 7. Furthermore, preliminary data from the Demographic Health Survey (2004/5) show a trend from 147 to 112 per 1,000 live births. Steep decline in under-five child mortality rates from 1999. While still preliminary, this is indeed very impressive and if such trends are maintained then Tanzania is also on track to achieve MDG 4 (Reduce Child Mortality).

So, it is fantastic that some of these early steps are being achieved. These are just the first steps on a long, hard journey. While overall primary school enrolment targets have been met, this has happened at the cost of ridiculously high class sizes in schools with untrained teachers and few books.

The next step is to keep building more classrooms, keep training more teachers and keep buying more books, equipment and computers for all the new students.

The School of St Jude is making a big contribution towards the MDGs because it gives the poorest children access to a well-equipped school, class sizes of 30 and teachers that get ongoing training to improve their skills. This is possible thanks to the many contributions made by hundreds of supporters world-wide. With your help, we can see the end of extreme poverty in our lifetimes.

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