This article presents a synthesis of lessons learned since the launch of Education for Rural People (ERP) in 2002 under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as part of the implementation process for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The ERP program originated from the global consensus on the importance of education in reducing poverty and concern over the development challenges presented by approximately 880 million illiterate youth and adults and approximately 130 million out-of-school children, many of whom are rural and female. The most important products of ERP to date have been the knowledge generated and disseminated, innovations identified, and lessons learned by ERP partners related to policy and practice in areas such as education quality and access, gender responsive learning environments, parent and community engagement, and accommodation of non-traditional learners, to name just a few. Tools to strengthen national capacities to advance ERP have been developed. A global repository of the knowledge base on ERP has been established at FAO and is accessible worldwide via the Internet. Partnerships have been forged to expedite and facilitate implementation. ERP is now widely acknowledged as a top priority in the international education agenda. But educating all rural people is a huge challenge, and much is still to be done considering the number of out–of-school children living in rural areas. During this next phase, new investments will be needed at the national level. Preparing rural citizens to engage successfully in knowledge-based economies is central to the achievement of the MDGs.


Education for rural people, food security, agriculture, sustainable rural livelihoods, education for all


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