In many developing countries, up to seventy percent of the young people between the ages of 15 and 25 live in rural areas, which areas have few primary schools and poorly qualified teachers. Of those that do go to school, 30 percent drop out during the first few years.
Where there is school in sub-Sahara Africa, formal education lasts less than three years. In some regions of the world, as few as ten percent of the children continue their education beyond primary school.
Of that ten percent, less than one-tenth of them finish secondary school and continue to some type of higher education.
According to UNESCO statistics, there are between 130 to 150 million out-of-school youth and most of these are in sub-Sahara Africa.
These numbers are increasing, not falling. Over two-thirds of these out-of-school youth are girls and young women.
The total youth population in the world today is estimated at about 1,500 million and is projected to grow to two billion by the year 2050.
All of that growth will be in the developing world, where it is projected that in the future, eight out of every nine youth will be living in a developing country.
Although the total number of youth will remain greater in rural areas over the next ten to fifteen years, all future growth in numbers of youth will be in the cities.
By the year 2025, it is estimated that there will be over one billion youth living in the cities, with only 700 million remaining in rural areas.
Rural education has a very important role to play in helping youth who do decide to stay in rural areas, to have more satisfying and productive lives.
There are a whole set of circumstances that are placing youth at high risk in rural areas including HIV/Aids, drug abuse, violence, discrimination, broken families and high birth rates among adolescent girls.
Once thought to be a concern only in urban areas, these problems are causing widespread harm to hundreds of thousands of rural youth worldwide.
Lack of educational opportunities and limited possibilities of gainful employment in rural areas combined with low standards of living; cause youth to leave their communities for the cities.
In Rwanda like many other countries in Africa the problem still continues where parents in rural areas don’t value education and instead encourage their children to doing agricultural work.
One finds that even those who have the guts of taking their children to school only value education for boys only.
Youth represent the future and hope of every country. The high return on resources invested in youth today have both immediate and long term benefits.
Where they exist and are functioning well, rural education plays an important role in building life skills of individual young people; strengthening families and communities; and working towards sustainable agricultural and rural development as a major contributor to the overall progress of a country.
The aspects of rural education offer potential for helping young people in rural areas contribute to sustainable agricultural development and the betterment of their communities and their country.
Government officials and policy makers need to consider some of these items as they think about the significant role that rural Education can play. In many parts of the world, rural youth are involved in economic activities.
In some countries they make up a significant part of the total population. This is especially true where formal education in rural areas is limited and youth become involved in production activities at an early age.
Rural education has the potential to empower youth to become agents of change in their local communities. Youth need to be viewed as resources for development rather than as objects of development.
Rural education can help youth feel good about themselves through positive activities and significant accomplishments of personal and group goals.
In its effort in building awareness on the importance of education for rural people as a crucial step to achieve the Millennium goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, the government of Rwanda has made strategies to overcome the urban/rural gap in education, increased access to basic education for rural people, and it has also improved the quality of basic education for rural people.