Unit 1:Quality Education and the Millennium Development Goals

Welcome to Unit 1

QUALITY EDUCATION has a goal or purpose, it is part of something much bigger and therefore a “means to an end”. Certainly governments have strategies to develop quality education, in many cases they seek huge international grants in aid to support their strategies. But our Nepal experience shows a number of issues and problems that ALWAYS return to this primary goal and purpose of building quality education systems. This Unit examines the Global Context in which quality education needs to be placed.

But, before you begin the detail of this Module and its Units we would like you to watch this short extract video from Professor Michael Fullan. He talks about “Drivers For Change” in education systems, so write down his 4 drivers, consider them as you read each unit, and we will return to Michael in Units 10 & 11.

Section 1-Child Centred Development 

Quality education is an essential tool in Child Centred Development as described in the UN document we will refer to throughout this course. Let’s begin with some quotes and extracts from this important document:

First, from the UN Secretary General:


The Millennium Declaration & Child Development

Second, how primary education underpins human development:


Primary Education & Human Development

Third, how child centred development should be characterised:


Child Centred Components

Now read the whole document, take a few notes, try to understand why QUALITY education is important in this wider context. Click here to DOWNLOAD it: Unicef-Child Centred Development

When you have finished reading complete the activity to test your understanding before moving on:


  1. Describe child centred development in your own words
  2. What is the connection between the quality of education and child centred development?

Write some notes on these two questions and keep them till later in the course.

Section 2-The Millennium Development Goals 

You should now be realising the wider context of education, especially at primary level for young children and as a major step in alleviating poverty.

The meeting of the United Nations which created the mission of Child Centred Development was followed by a further meeting in September 2000 in which some goals and targets were set for member countries to achieve by 2015. These were the Millennium Development Goals which were to play a significant role in a nations development strategy and policies, as well as in the International Communities approach to aid. In fact these goals gave international aid a focus like never before, and developing nations a clear direction to move their people into the 21st Century.

In total there were 8 MDGs which were stated clearly on the UN Website and you can view them here: Millennium Development Goals

In addition, each goal was eventually extended to include targets and indicators, so the one that concerns us the most here, achieving universal primary education, looked like this:


This goal is now very clear, stating that from 2000 and by 2015, each country should have all children completing a full primary education. This was to be measured by three indicators with #6 measuring the %of children enrolling in primary school each year, and #7 measuring the % of children completing a primary education. Also indicator #8 was to measure the literacy rate of 15-24 year olds.

Now, before we discuss the Primary Education MDG further, take a look at the full range of MDGs with targets and indicators from the UN website: Millennium Project


To test your own understanding so far, write your own views on the following three questions:

1. List the target and indicators for MDG Universal Primary Education

2. What is your opinion of the indicators, are they appropriate or good ones?

3.What is the significance or importance of quality education in meeting this target?

As usual take a few notes and keep them till later.

Section 3-Summary & Review

The key points to emerge from this Unit can be stated as follows:

  1. Quality Education is a global issue. It is not merely something “nice to have if you can afford it”. It is a fundamental human right.

2. Child Centred Development is the surrounding context for education, it is the means by which human potential can be realised, with Quality Education being a major tool for achieving it.

3. The MDGs of 2000 included nations having an education system in which every child would be COMPLETING a primary education by 2015. The indicators on this are very clear!

So, now that the 15 year period has ended, we can review progress against the indicators globally and nationally, analyse and interpret the outcomes, and identify “what next”.

This will be the purpose of the next Unit, The Nepal Challenge.  Click to enter with your password.