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Education for Rural People



The Sustainable Development Department (SDD) of FAO and UNESCO are inviting member countries, UN entities and civil society to join in the establishment of a new Partnership on Education for Rural People.

The initiative seeks to address rural-urban disparities, which are a serious concern to governments and the international community as a whole. About 70 per cent of the poor live in rural areas. Despite the fact that education is a basic right in itself and an essential prerequisite for reducing poverty, improving the living conditions of rural people and building a food-secure world, children's access to education in rural areas is still much lower than in urban areas, adult illiteracy is much higher and quality of education is poorer.

In this regard, FAO and UNESCO are joining efforts in the establishment of a new flagship within the Education for All (EFA) initiative with a focus on Education for rural people. The partnership will be open to members committed to working separately and together to promote and facilitate quality basic education for rural people.

The new FAO/UNESCO flagship was officially launched at a side event during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, 3 September 2002

The flagship objectives are:

  • building awareness on the importance of education for rural people as a crucial step to achieve the Millennium goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and achieving education for all

  • overcoming the urban/rural education gap

  • increasing access to basic education by rural people

  • improving quality of basic education in rural areas

  • fostering national capacity to plan and implement basic education plans to address learning needs of rural people

For more information, the concept paper "Targeting the rural poor: the role of education and training" (March 2002 ) can be consulted.

The flagship is a call for a collaborative effort to increase the coordination of efforts targeting the educational needs of rural people.


1. At national level

  • Technical support to countries willing to address the basic educational needs of the rural people by formulating specific plans of action as part of the national plans on EFA

    2. At international level

  • Advocacy and mobilisation of partnerships for education of the rural people concentrating on strategic global, regional and international events, and encouraging the same within countries.

  • Identify capacity for different substantive components on education for rural people within partners institutions

  • Support the exchange of good practices and knowledge on education for rural people


    The new FAO/UNESCO flagship was officially launched at a side event during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, 3 September 2002.

    Collaborators will be mentioned during the WSSD side event as well as in every other occasion where the flagship may be presented. UNESCO Director General Matsuura and FAO Director General Diouf or his representative will be there, indicating the importance of this flagship and the high regard attributed to this partnership.

    The flagship will also be presented during the subsequent meetings:

    1. Regional workshop on Education for Rural Development organized in partnership with FAO, UNESCO and UNESCO- International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), Bangkok,Thailand, 5 -7 November 2002

    2. An Aid Agencies workshop on Education for Rural Development, organised by FAO, with the technical collaboration of UNESCO and UNESCO/IIEP (Rome, 12-13 December 2002)

    3. Youth Employment Summit 2002 (Alexandria, 7 - 11 September 2002)

    4. International symposium on Rural Education organised by UNESCO Office in Beijing together with the International Research and Training Center for Rural Education (INRULED, China) the Chinese Ministry of Education, and the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, (20 to 23 January 2003).

    Members (as of November 2003)