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Friday, May 26, 2006 

Caribbean officials at UN-organized conference promise to improve rural education

26 May 2006 – Calling for assistance from regional and international organizations, especially the specialized United Nations agencies, high-level officials from several Caribbean nations have pledged to reduce poverty in rural communities and to open up new opportunities by changing approaches to education and training, the UN agricultural agency said today.

“We pledge to use our best efforts to reinforce action to further reduce poverty among communities dependent on agriculture, fisheries, forestry and micro-enterprises for their well-being,” a communiqué from the meeting, released by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), said.

“While we can certainly expect our governments, our civil societies, our business sectors and even rural people themselves and their communities to support local initiatives in Education for Rural People, we shall need and indeed require the support of the Caribbean Development Bank, the World Bank and our bilateral partners,” the communiqué, adopted at the end of the Caribbean Conference on Education for Rural People last Friday, said.

Caribbean ministers of education, agriculture and rural development noted that training and education had progressed at all levels in their region, despite setbacks from such natural disasters as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, as well as an adverse world economy.

Poverty and indigence rates remained higher among rural people than among the rest of the population, according to conference participants, who recognized that they could do more, in association with civil society and the business sector.
They called upon regional and international agencies, particularly FAO and the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), two of the meeting’s sponsors, to help develop locally feasible systems of monitoring, evaluation and research to measure progress and devise strategies to deal with emerging issues.

Education for rural people has a direct impact on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the list of targets the UN World Summit of 2000 issued to improve the socioeconomic situation in all countries, FAO education expert Lavinia Gasperini said.

“In this respect, the Caribbean conference helped raise awareness on the importance of education for rural people as a crucial step towards eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equity,” she said.

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