|Achieving The MDGs – Plan Ghana’s Contributions|
|Thursday, 03 March 2011 13:15|
By G.D. Zaney
The International Community, without doubt, is facing a challenging task in promoting the agenda of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) while the need to speed up development efforts are becoming even more urgent as the target year of 2015 for the realisation of the goals approaches. In other words,
even though many countries have made progress in achieving the MDGs, there is deep concern that the progress so far made has fallen short of what is needed.
Under MDG 2, for example, Governments are to ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary education, and under MDG 3, the target is to eliminate gender depravity in primary and secondary education and at all levels of education by 2015.
Indeed, even though improving gender equality and the empowerment of women (MDG 3) stands on its own as a development objective, that objective is also a crucial channel for the attainment of other MDGs.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment promote universal primary education (MDG 2), reduce under-five mortality (MDG 4), improve maternal health (MDG 5) and reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS (MDG 6).
Furthermore, improving gender equality also influences poverty reduction and growth directly through women’s greater labour force participation, particularly productivity and earning, as well as indirectly through the beneficial effects of women’s empowerment on child well-being.
A report, produced by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC)/Government of Ghana and the United Nations Development Programmer (UNDP) in Ghana, has captured Ghana’s progress towards the achievement of the MDGs as at 2008.The report, entitled “2008 Ghana Millennium Development Goals” was published in April 2010.
According to the report, Ghana is on track to achieving MDG 2, with gross enrollment ratios at the primary school level having improved steadily from 85.7 per cent in 2004/05 to 93.7 per cent in 2006/07 and 95.2 per cent in 2007/08.
The report also indicates that net enrollment ratios have also recorded increases at the primary level and also across the country from 69.2 per cent in 2005/06 and further to 83.7 per cent in 2007/08.
The report concludes that Ghana’s primary completion rate is 88.0 per cent in 2008, far ahead of Africa’s average level of 63.8 per cent and developing regions average level of 86.8 per cent.
The key message in the report, therefore, is that increase in enrollment at the primary school level is a positive development and a major step towards achieving MDG 2 and that to fully reach the goal, quality teaching and learning will need a greater commitment and support from decision makers.
The story is, however, different but not totally disappointing when it comes to the prospects of achieving MDG 3.
According to the report, Ghana is not likely to meet MDG 3 in full because gender disparity is highest at the lowest levels of education while the retention of girls in school is a major challenge. Furthermore, the percentage of women in Parliament declined at the last election.
As already indicated, the need to speed up efforts towards the achievement of the MDs has become even more urgent.
Fortunately, as the report notes, the supportive environment towards achieving the MDGs remains healthy, with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) contributing their quota.
One such NGO directly or indirectly at the forefront of national efforts to achieve MDG 2 particularly and, by extension, all the MDGs is Plan Ghana.
Plan Ghana has been working at the community level to improve the general well-being of children and communities in Ghana.
Indeed, Plan Ghana has contributed to boosting school enrollment rates from 60 per cent to 95 per cent (2004 -2008), reduced malnutrition among pre-school children from 34 per cent (2003) to 17 per cent (2008) and increased the birth registration of children from 17 per cent in 2003 to 62 per cent in 2008. To date, 300 communities with 28,379 children have benefited from Plan Ghana’s programmes.
Plan Ghana does not only support children and promote child participation, but also cares for whole communities through the provision of insecticide treated nets and access to drinking water and sanitation.
Plan Ghana also supports Village Savings and Loans Associations to help community members, especially women, become financially independent.
For these contributions to grassroots and rural development, Plan Ghana was recognized and included among the 29 recipients of Millennium Excellence Award.
In his remarks after receiving the Award on December 4, 2010, the Country Director of Plan Ghana, Samuel Paulos, said “I am receiving this award on behalf of the communities, our partners and of course the children. This award is a motivation for us to work hard in the coming years. I am glad to see that the work of Plan Ghana has been appreciated and formally recognized internationally. For our donors this proves that their investment in Plan Ghana has made a positive impact in the lives of children.”
What is of significance in Mr. Paulos’s statement is the resolve to work harder in the coming years – a resolve which is in consonance with the need and determination by the International Community to invigorate efforts at achieving the MDGs.
Government’s efforts alone, it is acknowledged, will not be enough— and, therefore, all stakeholders must contribute their quota towards the achievement of the goals.
The writer is an officer of the Information Services Department.