There is no single solution to poverty, but perhaps the most effective long term strategy is education. No amount of money, resources, work or ideology can pull a community permanently out of poverty, if people don’t have access to the skills and knowledge to control their own economic circumstances, then they will be deprived a stable and prosperous future. Education brings expertise, confidence and an understanding of history and context. Once people living in poverty have these qualities, they no longer need to rely on others, giving them the dignity of economic independence, while transforming them from recipients of aid to contributors in the global economy.
Evidence of education’s benefits is available to anyone who looks hard enough, but they are particularly clear to me as a swimming teacher for over 5 years. Giving people a basic understanding of how to control and propel their floating body totally changes their relationship to water. Instead of being a source of anxiety or concern, a trip to the beach or the pool becomes a chance to hone and improve their skills. New opportunities like surfing and scuba diving are opened up, and by combining aquatic skills with knowledge of water safety, the burden on lifesavers and emergency services is reduced. Similarly, educated people have access to many more opportunities to increase the prosperity of themselves and those around them. Furthermore, the need for aid or military interventions is reduced as people who understand the economy help prevent financial crises and backsliding into poverty, while people with a legitimate way to earn a living are unlikely to participate in corruption, crime and violence.
Since 2002 the General Partnership for Education (GPE) has been increasing the opportunities available to people living in impoverished countries, by improving and fortifying their education systems as part of a collaborative effort between national governments, international agencies, the private sector and civil society. Already a long-time supporter of the GPE Australia has a chance to contribute to this program, helping it expand to 870 million young people.
If the Government pledges $200 million at the GPE Replenishment Conference on the 2nd of February, then it will be making the same sort of commitment to regional development that Australian parents make to their child’s development by paying their swim school fees. This investment by Australia, and other countries now will provide millions of children long-term opportunities for success well beyond the basic knowledge and skills gained today.
Patrick Doyle has been a volunteer with RESULTS in Melbourne since May 2017, participating in the Study Tour to Canberra and an Anti-Poverty Week event. He worked as a Swimming Teacher through his studies, which included Politics, French and International Relations. His desire to be part of the movement to eradicate poverty comes from being raised by parents with strong social consciences, and the political awareness he gained through his studies.
Want to know more about the GPE? Watch this video.