Reason #1: We cannot end poverty without investing in education

by Camilla Ryberg, RESULTS Australia’s Online Communications and Education Manager

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela

Today we look a bit more closely into Reason #1 of the eight reasons from our joint RESULTS brief Greater Impact through Partnership: 8 reasons to invest in the Global Partnership for Education now more than ever.

The reason; ‘We cannot end poverty without investing in education’, is really one on which there is little or no disagreement.  Indeed, it is often stated that investing in education is the single most effective way of reducing poverty.

This is recognised by citizens all over the world as evidenced in the United Nations’ MY World global survey  – with responses from nearly 1.5 million people in 194 countries at the time of writing – where “A good education” is ranked as the world’s #1 priority for the post-2015 development agenda.

It is estimated that if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty and global poverty would decline by 12 percent. Education is critical to reducing poverty and inequality, and one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and its future.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) provides low-income country partners the incentives, resources, and technical support to build and implement robust education plans and meet targets to help more children receive a good quality education.

Sometimes education challenges require innovative approaches that reach beyond the education sector. The school meals program in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) supported by the Global Partnership for Education is such an example. With the Government of Lao PDR having identified the importance of education, food security, and health in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, a GPE grant of US$30 million went towards the program that combined local food production, community trainings, and school interventions in health, sanitation, and hygiene. The program was piloted by the Ministry of Education and Sports in 66 schools in 2012, with plans to expand it to nine districts in five provinces.

Education is intrinsically related to other poverty alleviation aspects, such as maternal and child health, gender equality, economic development, national security, and democracy. In Greater Impact through Partnership we outline five areas where education has significant impact.

The multiplier effect of education – Education is a human right and is absolutely fundamental to ending poverty. A good education empowers individuals, contributes to greater economic growth, produces healthier populations, and builds more stable, equitable societies. Education is widely recognized as one of the most effective development interventions. If the world does not invest in education, development and progress will be impossible.

Maternal and child health – A child born to an educated mother is more than twice as likely to survive to the age of five. As women’s education levels increase, immunization rates go up, preventable child deaths go down, and nutrition improves.

Gender equality – Education increases self-confidence and decision-making power for girls, as well as their economic potential. On average, for a girl in poor country, each additional year of education beyond third or fourth grade will lead to 20 percent higher wages.

Economic development – Education is a prerequisite for economic growth: no country has achieved continuous and rapid growth without at least 40 percent of adults being able to read and write. Every US$1 invested in a person’s education yields US$10-15 in economic benefit over that person’s working lifetime.

Security and democracy – People of voting age with a primary education are 1.5 times more likely to support democracy than people with no education. Countries with higher primary schooling rates and a smaller gap between rates of boys’ and girls’ schooling tend to enjoy greater democracy and stability.

Without investing in education, the poorest countries and the poorest people will be left far behind. Conversely, as outlined above, the impact of investment in education is profound.  We cannot end poverty without investing in education and a successful replenishment which sees a fully-funded Global Partnership for Education is critical to achieving this.

RESULTS affiliates in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and here in Australia are calling on our respective governments to play their fullest part in ensuring that the Global Partnership for Education’s 2015-2018 replenishment target of US$3.5 billion is met.

Click here to read the full RESULTS’ brief Greater Impact through Partnership:  8 reasons to invest in the Global Partnership for Education now more than ever.

This post is part of a series over eight weeks where  RESULTS affiliates in Canada, the UK, the U.S. and  Australia will delve deeper into each of the 8 reasons to invest in the Global Partnership for Education now more than ever. Don’t forget to check back here next week for REASON #2.

Further Reading:

RESULTS Publication Launch: 8 Reasons to Invest in the Global Partnership for Education Now

Greater Impact Through Partnership

250 Million Reasons to Invest in Education: The Case for Investment

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