Monday, June 27, 2011

eight ways to change the world


“Let us be clear about the costs of missing this opportunity: millions of lives that could have been saved will be lost; many freedoms that could have been secured will be denied; and we shall inhabit a more dangerous and unstable world.”[1]

With these words in mind, let us develop on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 1 and 2, children and the case of Brazil. A sustainable end to world poverty as we know it, as well as the path to peace and security, require that citizens in every country be empowered to make positive choices and provide for themselves and their families.[2]

As stated by the current Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, education plays a key role for reaching the eight targets for slashing poverty, illiteracy and all other major socio-economic ills by the year 2015.[3] We have had ample evidence that education improves individual incomes, economic growth, child and maternal health, families’ well being, equality between the races, classes and sexes, resistance to diseases and environmental practices.[4] Closing the education gap is the only way to ensure that children everywhere in the world will receive the education they deserve and put individuals and countries on a sure footing towards a stable future.[5]

What is unique about this work is that it goes beyond a country analysis into the development of a project proposal to be implemented in Brazil in partnership with United Nations local agencies – such as UNDP, UNICEF and UNESCO – and local NGOs. In general terms, the objective is to utilize what has been learned throughout the course of the academic semester, throughout this extensive research and through the received feedback to inform and to strengthen Brazil’s youth. We want to teach children about the United Nations, an institution we admire greatly, about the Millennium Development Goals and their rights and duties as citizens of this world.

Holding the fundamental conviction that everything starts at the base, at the very roots, we have chosen to tackle MDGs 1 and 2, with a focus on children, for we believe children are the basis for change and that the fight against poverty, hunger, violence, inequality, diseases, environmental degradation or any other issue facing our world, will only be achieved effectively and sustainably through education. In a search for change, we are looking to influence attitudes and mentalities.[6]

Even though all eight Millennium Goals are essential to ensure a stable and sure future, no objective can be successfully attained if we do not combat poverty, hunger and the lack of education first.[7] Evidently, we cannot ask for universal education if people do not have the minimum necessary to survive – which is the freedom from extreme poverty and the freedom from hunger. After all, how can we expect those who are going hungry to learn how to read or write, and how can we expect those who cannot read or write to fight for their and others’ rights? Let us not forget, education beats poverty and gives people tools to help themselves.[8]

Raising our voice, and raising awareness, we can make education a reality for the millions of boys and girls who remain out of school in Brazil.[9] Thus, we are looking for a long-term solution to what we consider to be a “generational transmission” of poverty, hunger and inequality plaguing our beautiful and vibrant society.[10]

This text is an excerpt from a long and beautiful research project (01 - 08/2010) on the Millennium Development Goals 1 & 2 in Brazil. If you have any interest in seeing the rest of the material, please contact me directly.

[1] Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, in the Foreword to The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2005.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] We share the fundamental belief in the importance of diffusing information about the United Nations and its Millennium Development Goals. As we have already discussed, societies in developing countries, such as Brazil, suffer significantly from the lack of education and information provided to its people. The MDGs campaign has increased awareness of the issues and problems facing the world’s most destitute. And, the more people are aware of a problem, the more populations, governments and organizations can assist in tackling global issues such as poverty and extreme hunger.

[7] Millennium Development Goals Report, 2009: 15. The large numbers of out-of-school children is specially worrisome because of the impact it will have on other MDGs. Evidence shows, for instance, that an increase in the share of mothers with a primary or secondary education is associated with a reduction in child mortality rate, and that educated parents have better nourished children. Parental literacy also plays a role in whether children attend school. Education has been shown to have a positive effect on the success of HIV prevention and increases the probability of accessing decent employment.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] We are not advocating for grand realizations, but we believe that without this basis guaranteeing the elimination of poverty and hunger and the access to education, we cannot and will not achieve the other Millennium Development Goals. How can we ask for the implementation and enforcement of rules and laws if our country’s population, which is supposed to respect and be protected by these same rules, is not aware of their most basic, inalienable, rights? Those who cannot read or write are more likely to be unaware of their rights and unaware of the actions they can take to fight for what is rightly theirs.


  1. Oi Samantha! Estudamos juntas na EA mas nunca tivemos contato. Esbarrei num artigo sobre os precos absurdos do RJ e reconheci o nome da autora :) Dai vim parar aqui no seu blog.

    Achei muito legais as suas materias, especialmente essa sobre Millenium Development Goals. Fiz um trabalho enorme sobre isso para a faculdade aqui em Londres.. Gosto do jeito que voce pensa e escreve!
    Luciana Machado