The second Goal proposed in the Millennium Summit assumes that education is a key component for development. Increased levels of education in a population are linked to other key factors for development and wellbeing, such as productivity, social mobility, poverty reduction, building citizenship and social identity and of course, strengthening social cohesion. Education helps societies achieve growth, equity and participation, and plays a crucial role in economic growth, since it can be seen as a high-yield investment and a factor which spurs the creation of value. Moreover, education is one of the principle areas in which future inequalities can be reduced, as well as an outstanding means for overcoming poverty.
The right to education and the legal enforceability of that right, has recently been enshrined in a number of important regional and international treaties, pacts and agreements which have been signed and ratified by countries. Due to the legally binding nature of many of these agreements, education has been recognized as a right on equal footing with civil and political rights.
MDG 2 has one single Target 2A which calls for children everywhere, boys and girls alike to be able to complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015. Primary education has historically been considered a key to children’s futures, since it is possible to have a positive and effective influence on children during this stage of development. It is no coincidence that all international agreements on education propose universal access to quality education defined not only in terms of coverage, but also in terms of equitable access. This will hopefully translate into more students remaining in and completing the entire cycle of primary education and become a successful springboard to secondary education, the completion of which is increasingly critical.
Target 2A includes 3 indicators; the first one refers to the enrolment rate; the second indicator measures completion; and the third indicator refers to the literacy rate of young people (from 15 to 24 year-olds, men and women).
Although there is no consensus among experts as to whether all of these indicators are necessarily valid for measuring access to and completion of primary education, and that better indicators might allow for an analysis of the inequalities, the widespread availability of the previously mentioned indicators has meant that they can be used to examine progress throughout the world. Additionally, ECLAC has proposed a number of supplementary indicators which might be useful to monitor this goal in Latin American and Caribbean countries considering the new challenges the region faces. The areas covered by the indicators proposed include literacy in adults, pre-school education, secondary education and more accurate measurements for primary education completion.