|© UNICEF/HQ 96-1392/Pirozzi|
|Among all the development goals set out by the world community, eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education is the first due in 2005.|
Globally, an estimated 121 million children do not attend school. Of that number, 65 million are girls. Among all the development goals set out by the world community, eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education is the first due in 2005. It is an essential step toward achieving education for all children.
With 2005 rapidly approaching, the hope among many at the meeting is that there will be new strategies and action plans brought forth in order to get more children, especially girls, into school.
“We are hoping that out of this meeting, we can come out with not just another resolution, but actually an action and agenda that will specify five broad ways of acting into 2005 and beyond,” explains UNICEF’s Chief of Education, Cream Wright. “We need to make sure that we put a lot of energy and resources in a targeted way to overcome the hurdle of so many girls being out of school, and get rid of the poor quality of education,” says Dr. Wright.
In June 2004, another important event aimed at achieving gender parity in education was held in Kenya. It was called the International Conference on Girls’ Education, and was organized by the Forum of African Women Educationalists. The high-level meeting brought together UN agencies, donors, and international NGOs from sub-Saharan Africa in order to review good practices regarding girls' education.
“We realized that quite a lot of agencies can point out at least one success programme. It’s usually at a small level – one school, one community, one district at most. This meeting was about how we can learn from these success stories and bring them up to a national level,” says Dr. Wright.
Although a series of initiatives and activities have been held in order to accelerate the push towards a world with ‘Education for All’, what matters most is meeting the goals that we have pledged, especially the most recent – reaching gender parity in primary and secondary education by 2005.
“There is the sense that if we fail to make progress with this one, then we lose the momentum and lose the credibility about setting goals,” warns Dr. Wright. “People will wonder why we set these goals and fail to meet them, then fail to be accountable for these failures.”