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Turning the Millennium Development Goals Into Reality: Part 2

Kenya Education Fund scholars attending primary school in Kenya.

In the second blog post in our series about the UN’s Millennium Development Goals we focus on Millennium Goal 2: Ensure that by 2015, children everywhere are able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

The World Bank estimates that there are 115 million children not attending school worldwide — 43 million of them in Africa. Some notable successes have been achieved since the goal was declared in 2005. In Ethiopia for example, three million more children are now in school than in 2,000 and in Tanzania education is nearly universal. Both are the results of increased government expenditures on education and concerted efforts to increase school enrollment. However, one of the goal’s targets – to have an equal number of boys and girls in school by 2005 has not been realized. Today, only 1 in 4 girls living in poverty attends school. In eleven African countries, 80 percent of children not in school are girls. Needless to say, without addressing the gender gap universal primary education will never become reality.

The Aid for Africa Girls Education Fund, addresses this gap by providing educational scholarships and stipends for girls. It does this through grassroots organizations already embedded in the community that know first-hand how to overcome challenges associated with cost, culture and tradition. Two participating organizations are Children of Uganda, which for more than a decade has been providing education and support to hundreds of AIDS-related orphans and other vulnerable children, and Kenya Education Fund, which provides high-school scholarships to needy girls throughout Kenya.

The fund provides an excellent return on its investment. The average annual cost to send a girl to high school in the United States is about $7,750. In Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania it is $650 – meaning 12 girls can go to school in Africa for the price of one student in the United States. Also, when a girl receives an education and earns an income, they put 90 percent of their earnings back into their family compared to 40 percent for men. They are also more likely to have fewer children and less likely to contract HIV/AIDS.

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