Nation’s challenges ahead in achieving Millennium Development Goals: IPS



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More than 97.8% of the children aged 6 to 10 years and more than 95% of the children aged 11 to 14 years are attending school in all the districts by 2012/13, showing the effectiveness of making education compulsory for children aged 5 to 14 years


In 2000, world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration, which was followed by a set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be achieved by 2015. There are 44 MDG indicators in total, of which 27 have clear targets. Table 1 gives a snapshot of the status of MDGs at national level for Sri Lanka. The table also compares the status of the indicators in the base year (1990 or closest) with the current status (2013 or closest).


Sri Lanka has achieved the targets for 13 of these indicators by 2012/13 (based on the available data) and 11 were "on track" to be achieved by 2015. Only two indicators were off track. Free education, universal health care, and a number of welfare programmes which were implemented for more than six decades have contributed to the impressive results in education, health and living conditions. More recent policies and programmes related to MDGs have helped to acceleratethe progress and achieve some targets well ahead of schedule.


While Sri Lanka has made considerable progress pertaining to most of the indicators at national level, there are still considerable regional variations, which need the attention of regional planners and policy makers. Few of the identified gaps and regional variations are highlighted below, which may help in taking suitable action to make an effective final push towards achieving MDGs in all the regions ofthe country. The details on Sri Lanka's MDG achievements, gaps and regional variations, as well as some suggestions to minimize those, are given in the "Millennium Development Goals Country Report - 2014".


Sri Lanka has achieved the target of halving poverty at the national level seven years before 2015deadline: National poverty incidence declined from 26.1 % in 1990-91 to 6.7 % in 2012-13. All districts, except those in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and Monaragala District in Uva Province, have already achieved the target of halving poverty. In Monaragala District, poverty increased to 20.8 % in 2012/13, even though it had achieved the MDG target in 2009/10 with a poverty rate of 14.5 %. The Jaffna and Ampara Districts,which were earlier affected by the separatist war have progressed well since 2009/10.


Poverty in Jaffna declined from 16.1 % in 2009/10 to 8.3 % in 2012/13, while in AmparaDistrict poverty fell from 11.8 % to 5.4 % during the same period. The regional disparities clearly indicate the need for continuous monitoring and focused attention of planners and policy makers.


Poverty Gap Ratio (PGR), which measures the depth of poverty,has also declined sharply since 1995: The PGR fell from 6.6 %in 1995/95 to 1.2 % in 2012/13, indicating an overall reduction in the level of poverty even for those below the poverty line. However, income inequality gap persists. As such, the focus of policy may need to be on regional economic development, which will create more employment opportunities acrossall the regions, especially for women.Another important factor which needs urgentattention is targeting ofsocial protection programmes,which will help the most vulnerable groups in the country.


Sri Lanka has been successful in achieving all 3 targets related to Universal Primary Education: More than 97.8% of the children aged 6 to 10 years and more than 95% of the children aged 11 to 14 years, are attending school in all the districts by 2012/13, showing the effectiveness of making education compulsory for children aged 5 to 14 years in 1998.


(Wimal Nanayakkara is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS). Among the IPS Research Team who contributed in the preparation of the MDG Country Report 2014 are: Wimal Nanayakkara, Ganga Tilakaratne, Sunimalee Madurawala, Chatura Rodrigo, Suwendrani Jayaratne, Ashani Abayasekera, Ayodya Galappattige and Yolanthika Ellepola. To view this article online and share your comments visit http://www.ips.lk/talkingeconomics/)


 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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