The Philippines and the United Nations' Millenium Development Goals

PHL is Asia's 'worst performer' in MDGs, says UN official

March 19, 2013 7:47pm

The above is the title of a news article from GMA network. One can easily relate to this title by browsing through the 2013 Human Development Report. The following is Figure 2 of the report, highlighting the fact that quite a number of developing countries have significantly improved their human development index:

Above figure copied from
Among the countries that have shown dramatic improvement in the quality of life of their citizens are Lao PDR, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Of course, missing in this list is the Philippines. In fact, the Philippines is not expected to reach most of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) in 2015. The Philippines' Human Development Index (HDI) in 1990 was 0.571 - while in this latest report (for 2012), the Philippines' HDI rose only to 0.654, which clearly places the Philippines among the black spots in the above figure, which represent countries that have not managed to improve the quality of life of their citizens significantly. The following table (copied from the Human Development Report 2013) clearly shows how slow progress in HDI has been in the Philippines compared to the rest of the world:

One of the (MDG) goals is universal primary education. In this area, the following figures relate the current situation:

Downloaded from Philippines' MDG Status and Project Map
Much of the country is in red, indicating a low likelihood of achieving universal primary education by 2015. The pace of progress in this area can be evaluated allowing for the extrapolation that the Philippines will fail in this particular goal:

Above table downloaded from
The report also makes the following important observations:
In terms of efficiency of the elementary school system, more children in the rural areas were disadvantaged than in urban areas. Among the reasons for the urban-biased elementary completion rate are the high number of incomplete school buildings in rural/remote areas, much higher malnutrition rates and incidence of child labor in rural areas compared with the urban areas (in 2001 for example, 7 out of 10 working children in the 5-17 age group resided in the rural areas). 
It is interesting to note that participation rates in primary education by region is inversely correlated with the incidence rates for food and overall poverty. The regions with highest participation rates showed the lowest poverty incidence rates, namely, the NCR, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON. Accordingly, these five regions had the highest cohort survival rates and lowest dropout rates. The observed correlations among these variables suggest that investment in primary education is promising for poverty reduction. The above correlations support the importance of adopting progressive approaches in fighting poverty and investing in primary education. Such an approach raises the likelihood of accelerating the realization of MDG targets.
The above tells us what the current problems really are. We simply need to pay attention.


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