But in launching the MDGs 2012 report Ban said that meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible only if governments, including those in the Caribbean, do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.
“The current economic crises besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made. Let us build on the successes we have achieved so far, and let us not relent until all the MDGs have been attained,” he said.
The 72-page report notes that in the developing regions as a whole, children living in rural areas are almost twice as likely to be underweight than children in urban households.
“The largest gap is in Latin America and the Caribbean. In that region, eight per cent of children are underweight in rural areas—more than twice the rate in cities.”
It said that poorer children are almost three times as likely to be underweight as are children in the wealthiest 20 per cent of the households.
Regarding education, the report noted that in the developing regions, the net enrolment rate for children of primary school age rose from 82 to 90 per cent between 1999 and 2010.
However, a closer look at the data reveals that nearly all of this growth occurred between 1999 and 2004, and that progress in reducing the number of out-of-school children slowed considerably after 2004.
“At the same time, many of the countries facing the greatest challenges have recorded significant progress towards universal primary education. Enrolment rates of children of primary school age increased markedly in sub-Saharan Africa, from 58 to 76 per cent between 1999 and 2010.
It said that apart from in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90 per cent of children of primary school age were enrolled either in primary or secondary schools in 2010.
“In four developing regions, namely Northern Africa, Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and South-Eastern Asia, at least 95 per cent of primary-age children were in school.”
The report noted that globally, there has been progress in reducing girls’ exclusion from primary education, with the female share of out-of-school children in developing countries dropping from 58 to 53 per cent between 1999 and 2010.
But regional gender disparities continue to detract from efforts to achieve universal primary education. In Southern Asia, Western Asia and Northern Africa, girls accounted for 55, 65 and 79 per cent, respectively, of the total share of out-of-school children.
“Universal primary education would be a hollow achievement if the focus were simply on enrolment rather than on the completion of primary education. In 2010, the global primary completion rate, measured by the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education reached 90 per cent, compared with 81 per cent in 1999.
“Regional values ranged from 70 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa to almost 100 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean and also in the Caucasus and Central Asia,” the report said, noting that “girls and boys have similar chances of completing primary education in all regions except for sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia.