Debunking the myth otherwise known as the Millennium Development Goals

With the MDG summit about to start in New York, many scholars, practitioners and pundits have been discussing the relevance and approach of the Millennium Development Goals. James Shikwati, Director of the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) critiques the assumptions of the goals in an incisive article titled “MDGs: Africa Must Rethink Approach”.

Shiwati starts off with Goal number 2 regarding the achievement of Universal Primary Education, dispelling the myth that the need for enrolment in school usurps the desire for quality education:

“Academies (private schools) are reported to be growing in popularity as Kenyan middle class parents shun free primary school education … By opting to pay fees notwithstanding free education, parents have dispelled the myth propagated by international activists that Africans prefer free goodies and do not think long term.”

This echoes Jeffrey James writing in 2006 in the Third World Quarterly on “Misguided Investments in meeting the Millennium Development Goals” in drawing a clear distinction between completing primary school and being literate. Unless there is investment in infrastructure including teachers and facilities, poor education quality means that Goal Number 2 cannot be achieved. Shikwati even warns:

“High numbers of undereducated graduates (because Africa’s education system does not prepare its graduates to confront the continent’s challenges to produce positive outcomes) will lead to “haki yetu” agitations.”

The MDGs also fail to recognise social exclusion and marginalisation which are the main root causes for under development. This includes the youth and even the general adult population in some instances. Reverting to goal number 2, there is no mention of adult education, which led Almazan-Khan to write as early as 2001, Does EFA (Education for All) stand for “Except for Adults”?

Shikwati endorses the views of other activists that see the MDGs as more donor-centric than people focussed. In effect these goals do not belong to the most impoverished populations of the world, but to the technocrats sitting in New York, Geneva and other donor headquarters. The MDGs robbed the right of the poor to determine what was in their best interests; no wonder as we approach 2015 there has been no significant progress.


About yipe
Yipe an acronym for the Youth Interactive Portal for Enterprise is an organization that assists entrepreneurs to start up and manage their small businesses.

3 Responses to Debunking the myth otherwise known as the Millennium Development Goals

  1. Pingback: World Wide News Flash

  2. Hi you can find the background and the actual meaning of theMDGs in my article

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