Education is the key to ending extreme poverty--seriously.

I know what you’re saying. This statement gets made all the time. Basically anyone trying to convince someone about solving something says that the key to ending X is Y. Like the “key” to sustainable cities is public infrastructure or the “key” to a pollution free world is solar power (ok, both are good ideas but whether they’re the “key” is highly debatable).

But when I say that education is the key to ending extreme poverty, I am not just re-using a cliché.

Education can change people, communities, entire nations and the future of humanity.

Historically, the enlightenment unleashed a wave of development that changed the direction of humanity. In modern times it has helped end hate and social divides.

But those achievements are largely immeasurable, and can be traced to a variety of factors. To say education is the key to ending poverty, tangible, measurable benefits are in order. So I went to the great folks at the Global Partnership for Education to see what they had to say:

Education increases a person’s income

Studies show that for each year of schooling, girls can increase their lifetime earnings 10-20%. (And if you want that fact gender neutral, the overall benefit is still about 10%).

Education saves lives

Each year extra of a mother’s education reduces infant mortality by 5 to 10%.

Education makes children healthier

A child with a mother who can read is 50% more likely to live past their 5th birthday.

Education builds peace

For every 10% a region is above the average education level, the risk of war and conflict is reduced by about 3%.

Education feeds people

Investing in girls education particularly has the potential to boost food production in Sub-Saharan Africa by about 25%.

Education makes everyone wealthier

Seriously. Each additional year of school given to children in a nation raises average annual domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.37%. That may not seem like a lot, but in real terms that could mean billions of dollars. Put in those terms, it’s a little easier to see how important this is.

Reading (which requires education) reduces poverty

Studies show that if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. Just by teaching them to read! (You know, that thing you’re doing right now)

So there’s the facts. Education does truly do it all. In the realm of development, there is nothing else that has as many short and long term benefits as increasing education for all. Now that you’ve been educated on the value of education, it’s time to deliver that education to those who need it around the world.


Defeat Poverty

7 Ways Education Can Help End Extreme Poverty

By Brandon Blackburn-Dwyer