UN Millennium Development Goals: Education in Tanzania- Current Events Leader

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The UN will be holding a summit in New York from September 20- 22nd to discuss the progress of the Millennium Goals for eradicating global poverty.  Our local paper, The Center Daily Times, in State College, PA, had a story describing the unaffordable education in Tanzania and much of East Africa.  The second Millennium Goal is the universal adoption of primary schooling.  This means every child in the world has access and the ability to obtain a primary school education.  

First, there is some good news- There has been large strides on making education available by signs of enrollment globally.  From 1999 to 2008, the UN reported that 37 million more children now attend school, leaving those not attending at 69 million.  Achieving the goal of having every child in the world in school by 2015 is no easy feat.  There are many factors associated with children attending school including heavy financial burden for the families, the loss of workers at home, and lack of resources for the country as a whole.  Many families in this region of the world have children to help bring an income to the family and do gardening, meaning if this child is attending school the family has less workers.  To educate all the children in East Africa will require a complete restructuring of society.  While I was in Kenya I learned that many families did understand the importance of their children attending primary school, which was free.  But the investment in secondary schooling was too much of a burden and they were unable to allow their children to attend because they needed their help at home.

In the past decade international groups and non-profit organizations have pushed to abolish these fees in East Africa, which has led to 50% enrollment rates to nearly 100% attendance rates, according to the government.  However, as reported in the Center Daily Times Article, we see that this is not always the case due to the lack of resources. In East Africa, including Tanzania, primary school is supposed to be free for all their children; however, because of the lack of government funding and access to resources the schools must charge the students for supplies and food.  While many people in East Africa view schooling as essential for the future of their countries, education is still unattainable for many of those residing in these countries.  Without the payment of 'fees' for supplies, children are sent back home until they come with payments.

In the past 10 years, we have seen the global society become involved in these Millennium Development Goals.  There have been extreme improvement on some fronts, but in all of them there is a long way to go.  Globalization has allowed resources to be pulled from wealthy nations, NGOs, international organization, etc. to create solutions to these problems. The simple mandating of these goals has shown an incredible step in globalization.  The powerful and compelling video below shows what can be achieved within the global community and motivates its viewers to become involved.  It discusses how far we have come in being able to communicate with one another across the globe, but we have neglected to solve some of the most fundamental issues in the world including access to water, food, and health care.

As Friedman points out in The World is Flat, we are seeing many nations growing in terms of the educational standards of their generations.  He shows that these countries are encouraging their citizens to become competitive in the global society.  Unfortunately, there are many countries that are still too poor to compete in the global world.  For some individuals it may simply be their own choice to remain in agricultural production locally or continue a local family business in rural Africa, but for others it has become necessary for them to become educated to compete in the modern world in order to survive.  While I believe that no one should conform to modern standards, having money is a required to survive- jobs are a necessity.   For these poverty-stricken areas, it will take more than the help of the rest of the world to make progress- education is necessary for their society to advance if wanted.  But the global society is willing to connect with those people in Africa and Asia to help raise the standard of living by acquiring resources for the appropriate amount of food, clean water, health care, and shelter.  It requires a global fight between the UN, international organizations, NGOs, grass-root organizations, and the individual, whether they are in the US, Africa, China or India.  Including the whole world into globalization will benefit the entire globe.  The more people we have looking at the problems, with the ability and education to solve them will give us all a better chance of finding innovative solutions.

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