Rural People

Rural children, Jamaica

©UNESCO/Gary Masters
Rural children, Jamaica

Rural populations represent 70 per cent of the world’s poor and 72 per cent of the population of the least developed countries. Rural/urban inequalities are a major obstacle to sustainable development. Rural areas comprise human settlements of less than 10,000 people and the rural space is dominated by farms, forests, water, mountains and/or desert.

Typically, rural people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods as farmers, nomadic herders, or fishermen; they deal with animal production, transformation and marketing of food and non-food agricultural products and services. Rural communities are diverse culturally, socially and economically.

Their labour is cheap because gainful employment options are limited. Usually rural people lack access to adequate basic social services because they lack a political voice and rural areas have a low national priority.

The FAO/UNESCO Education for Rural People (ERP) flagship calls for collaborative action to address rural-urban disparities by targeting the educational needs of rural people.

Some areas of interventions for people living in rural areas:   

  • Educational assistance for the poor and needy (scholarships, free uniforms, relief from school fees, etc).
  • Distance-learning through the use of Community Multimedia Centers and ICT.
  • Addressing cultural values that limit educational opportunities for girls through schemes such as take-home rations and community daycare.
  • Streamlining curricula to focus on the main priorities and combine core and local content and teach it using community/human/material resources to promote active learning.
  • Providing better pay/incentive for teachers, especially for rural areas and establish national recognition awards for teachers in rural/remote areas.
  • Developing innovative support systems at the school and classroom level to help teachers use active learning techniques.
  • Encouraging adequate data collection focusing on the issues affecting target groups.
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