Understanding its Impact: Universal Primary Education in sub-Saharan Africa
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In 2000, the United Nations adopted eight Millennium Development Goals, which outline a universal framework to achieve sustainable development on a global level by the year 2015. My research focuses on the second goal, which ensures that children complete a full course of primary schooling. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and lacks sufficient progress to achieve the MDGs by 2015. I conducted research for nearly eight weeks in Zanzibar, Tanzania. I examined the impact of universal primary education policy on the daily lives of parents and children. I hypothesize that an educational program is only sustainable to the extent that it adapts to meet the needs of a local community. I conducted interviews with primary school teachers, children?s parents, and representatives of education non-governmental organizations (NGOs). I used three basic units of analysis: the household, the school, and the local community, to obtain a comprehensive sampling of different perspectives. I researched the practical function of universal primary education in the lives of families and children in underdeveloped regions within sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, I evaluated the extent to which social institutions adapt to the lives and needs of the families they serve. I concluded that the most effective system of education is one that can be supported by the local community. The success of an education system can be measured by its ability to sustain itself on a local level.