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What happened to education rights? The MDGs and how they should be improved!

Education is a human right and should not be dependent upon the benevolence of politicians. The MDGs do mention primary and secondary education in MDG 2 and 3, but do not acknowledge that every child already has a legal entitlement that goes well beyond access and completion of schooling. This runs the risk of leaving millions of

children without the free and compulsory primary education that is owed to them. It also deprives them of the quality education at all levels that is so important for their full development. This is particularly true also for MDG 1 and the target of decent work and full employability. Without relevant education that supports the transition from school to work, another goal will be missed.

The narrow focus of MDG 1, 2 and 3 fails to capture the whole spectrum of the right to education and has shifted attention and funding from quality to quantity. Important but partial progress in the latter now needs to be scaled up to the maximum and matched with fuller attention to the former.

The Right to Education Project has prepared briefs on education and MDGs, with recommendations for change:

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger - education is critical in eliminating economic exploitation and key to ensure an economy that can lift people out of poverty

MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education - quality education is a right, must be free and compulsory at least at the primary level, and a major post on the national budgets

MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women - education is essential to eliminate discrimination and transform social attitudes and power relations

Background article by Professor Christopher Colclough and Professor Elaine Unterhalter, members of the Right to Education Project's Advisory Panel, on connecting economics, education and gender in the MDGs

Other sources and links:

The UN MDG homepage

The Millennium Declaration

The Education for All goals