The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) – Meaning, History, Aims & Objectives

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Millennium Development Goals (MDG)

The Millennium Development Goals refer to a set of fundamental goals set by the United Nations in 2000 which all member states of the United Nations and, particularly developing countries, are required to achieve within a period of fifteen years.

Millennium Development Goals
Millennium Development Goals

Goals of the Millennium Development Goals

There are eight goals of MDGs and they are:

  • Eradication of extreme hunger and poverty
  • Achievement of Universal Primary Education
  • Promotion of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women
  • Reduction of Child Mortality
  • Improvement of Maternal Health
  • Elimination of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensuring environmental sustain ability and developing a global partnership for development with the developing countries.
  • Development and implementation of strategies for a decent and productive work for the youth.

Need for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)

A critical assessment of these goals reveals that they are a mere checklist of what developing countries actually need to transform from poor to rich and developed nations and thereby tackle the seemingly intractable problem of chronic and endemic poverty.

It is not that Third World countries lack the capacity to improve the living conditions of a large majority of the population or that they have failed to articulate and implement far-reaching policies designed to achieve objectives similar to the millennium development goals.

A fundamental issue often overlooked by policy makers in developing countries is the involvement of the beneficiaries of these programmes in their formulation and implementation.

In other words, a large segment of the local population (e.g. women, workers, farmers, traders, civil society groups and the ‘poorest of the poor’) are often ignored or marginalised (to use a local parlance) in the policy process.

Policies and programmes for the alleviations of poverty, for example, are imposed by policy makers who lack basic knowledge of local conditions and the real roblems of the impoverished majority.

Such top-down approach to development cannot lead to improvement in the living standards of rural dwellers and poor urban residents.

An official release of Nigeria’s Federal Bureau of Statistics in early 2012, for example, shows that the poverty level in the country rose from 55 percent in 1999 to 64 percent in 2011.

The various programmes adopted to deal with poverty and underdevelopment (e.g. NAPEP) have not impacted positively on the people. Again indices released by the United Nations Development Programme in 2011 indicate that Nigeria has the second worst infant mortality rate in the world.

Infant mortality rate in the country is about 99 out of 1000 live births (i.e 99 out of every 1000 children born will likely die at birth). The maternal mortality rate is 1:13 (i.e. one out of thirteen women die during delivery). The ratio is about 1:8000 in European countries.

Nigeria is still one of the few countries that is unable to eradicate polio. How can a country which cannot eradicate polio deal with life threatening medical emergencies? The rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the country is about four percent and malaria remains one of the greatest killers in the country.

The health infrastructure is generally poor and the attitude of health workers to patients is abysmally poor. It is not a surprise therefore that the members of the ruling elite shun local hospitals to seek solution to their medical problems.

How can the governing elite improve the health care system in which they have little or no interest?

To say that the educational system in the country is not in a good shape may even be an understatement given the rot in the system.

With the rare exception of the private schools whose fees are generally beyond the reach of the ordinary people the public education system has significantly deteriorated in terms of the provisionof teaching and learning facilities as well as certificated and highly motivated teachers.

A large proportion of the teachers, especially in the primary schools lack the basic qualification and motivation to produce school leavers who can read and write. In actual fact many of the teachers have no business being teachers.

Although the governments spend huge amounts of money to provide basic school facilities (e.g. the provision of books in some subj ects to students in primary and secondary schools), it is difficult to feel its impact because of the leakage in the system.

There also seems to be a disconnect between the government and teachers’ unions. Teachers are often on strike to demand for one thing or the other. In Ekiti State, the attempt by the Fayemi Government to introduce compulsory promotion tests for teachers m primary and secondary schools was strongly resisted by the local Nigeria Union of Teachers.

Many people continue to wonder why by teachers who regularly conduct tests and examinations for their pupils are afraid of being tested. This, no doubt shows the poor quality of the teachers.

There is no reason whatsoever why a teacher should be afraid of being tested. Unfortunately, these are the people who will assist in the realization of a cardinal goal of the MDGs, namely, achievement of universal primary education.

It will be extremely difficult to achieve the MDGs. given the increasing cases of child trafficking, the use of children to hawk goods, the reluctance of parents to send their children to school, high cost of education and the unprogressive tradition in some parts of the country which perceives western education as an instrument for brainwashing children.

With reality dawning on it, the United Nations has now hopelessly admitted that none of these goals was likely to be achieved by any African country unless perhaps drastic measures are taken.

Unfortunately African countries which place little premium on good governance do not appear ready to do the right things to achieve the MDGs. The whole thing will likely go the way of another United Nations prescription of Health for All by Year 2000’ made in 1985.

That one was a big failure given the poor health status in many Third World countries.

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