Together in the fight against poverty
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

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The challenge

Education is a basic human right and should be made available to everyone, yet 75 million children throughout the world still do not attend primary school, and almost half of them have never received any  education at all.

The children most likely to drop out of school or to not attend at all are often girls, especially those from poorer households or living in rural areas.

This situation is all the more worrying as it has a negative impact on the other Millenium Development Goals. For instance, education has a positive effect on the success of HIV prevention and increases the probability of accessing decent employment.

Our plan: to ensure that all boys and girls alike can go to primary school by 2015.

How are we doing?

how are we doing

Progress is still slow, even though more and more children around the world are attending school. Progress is also uneven according to regions. In Southeast Asia, at least 90% of children attend school, whereas Sub-Saharan Africa is lagging behind. More aid is needed to achieve this goal in time.

Our action

The EU is the main donor to the international initiative “Education for all”, a movement to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

The EU supports efforts to increase enrolment of the poorest children by:

  • abolishing school fees;
  • constructing schools in underserved areas;
  • boosting the recruitment and training of teachers; and
  • encouraging gender equality at school.

Quick facts

  • 89% of children who live in poor countries are going to school
  • 2 out of 3 adults who cannot read or write are women

From the field

An Orao (a local tribe) boy in Thakurgaon wearing some flowers in his hair © European Union, 1995-2010

Improving primary education with the government of Bangladesh

This programme addresses four main areas:

  • Better management of the primary education system.
  • More recruitment and better teacher training.
  • Better infrastructure.
  • Equitable access for all children.
Children (boys) singing the national anthem at the Morogoro Primary School, Tanzania © European Union, 1995-2010

Primary education development programme in Tanzania

The Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP) aims to ensure that all children have equitable access to a good quality primary education. European Commission funding aims to strengthen the PEDP by focusing on district programmes and the construction of schools, as well as activities which aim at improving the quality of education.


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