Is Our Individual Progress Important or Global Targets?
By Niyati Agrawal
“A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process.” ― B.F. Skinner, Walden Two
The Republic of Indonesia was also one of the signatories to take part in the United Nations Declaration of the Millennium Development Goals. As the deadline draws near, Indonesia struggles to meet the targets.
While the percentage of population living with income below US $1 has reduced by 13.1% from 1990 to 2011; the portion of people living below the national poverty line has increased. The prevalence of severe underweight children, below the age of 5, has risen from 6.3% in 1990 to 8.8 in 2011.
The maternal mortality ratio which was targeted to be at 110 per every 100,000 live births is recorded to be 228 in 2011. In the year 1990 it was 390. Not much difference is seen in the numbers in the past two decades. It still is the highest in the South East Asian region. This area requires a lot of improvement which might be a little difficult considering that 2015 is only a couple of years away.
Another drawback that the country sees is the spread of HIV/AIDS. The infection is stretching immensely in the urban areas. The curbing of Malaria is increasing but the process is very slow and is likely to not be achieved by the cut-off date. Not only are the health of people is suffering, the environment is also at a great risk in the country.
The country has a notable increase in the practice of deforestation and the volume of carbon dioxide commission is decreasing but again at a very slow rate and not at par with the required progress. The proportion of household with sustainable water supply through pipeline and sanitation in the urban and rural areas is also increasing but at a snail’s pace.
However it is not appropriate to say that the country hasn’t made a progress. The country has seen a huge amplification in its literacy rate with approximately 95% of children enrolled in primary school and 99.4% literacy rate of population between the age of 15 and 24. The ratio of female students to male students has also increased, making it 100% and hence achieving the target set. The infant mortality rate has also decreased from 97 in 1990 to 40 in 2011 (per 1000 live births). The target is set at 32 which is likely to be achieved.
When compared to other countries like Venezuela or China, Indonesia has not made a drastic progress or doesn’t even seem likely to meet all the targets set by the UN. However does meeting these global goals matter or the individual progress of a country matters? Each country has their own pace at which they grow and develop. The development depends on individual factors like availability of resources, economic position when compared to other countries, the cultural and historic factors and most importantly the intensity of the situation in the country while these goals were set.
So comparing the progress of Indonesia to another country is not justified. As compared to the 1960, when the country was formed into a republic, is it at a better place now? Yes, it sure is. In 1960 only 30% of the population could read and write, but today over 90% of the coming generation is literate and enrolled in schools. The average life expectancy age has increased from 41 years in the 1960 to above 67 years in 2011.
So is the country developing? I would say yes. It isn’t necessary to meet the targets that the rich countries of the UN has set, what matters is whether the people of the country are living a better life and are getting the basic necessities? Better education and increased life expectancy are just two aspects. Equality amongst genders has increased and there is a steady growth of healthy population which in the coming years is very crucial to the progress of the country. One needs to remember that Indonesia at the inception of these goals was an under developed country. It still might be compared to other countries but the effort it is taking in creditable. It may not achieve all the goals by 2015, but it sure has made a start towards it and somewhere down the line, it as a country will pull through.