No one teaches us how to dream. We just do. But dreams can only carry the 61 million children not in school, mostly girls, so far. Educating children no matter where they are is one of the biggest steps we can take toward ending extreme poverty. Education is key to building a society that can overcome poverty in a sustainable manner. Investing in human capital brings about powerful social change and creates opportunities for those in developing countries to realise their full potential and to become leaders of the generation to come.

In many developing countries, education is unaffordable for families and there is a shortage of classrooms. The poorest countries need almost 4 million new classrooms by 2015, largely in rural and marginalized areas, to accommodate those who are not in school. More classrooms will alleviate overcrowding, cut class sizes and reduce the long travel distances. Children in rural areas sometimes walk two to three hours to attend school.

Other barriers to education include:

Humanitarian emergencies, especially conflict. The need to fulfill the right to education is greatest in humanitarian crises. More than 40 per cent of out-of school children live in conflict-affected poor countries, and millions are forced out of school by natural disasters each year. In emergency situations, education can save and sustain lives. A safe school environment can give children a sense of normalcy during a crisis. Schools can also aid in post-conflict reconstruction. Yet only 2 per cent of all humanitarian aid goes into education. Schools should be a higher priority during humanitarian crises, and national education plans should include contingencies for emergencies.

Gender discrimination. Girls face a unique set of barriers to education, such as child marriage, early pregnancy, and expectations related to domestic labour, not to mention unsafe travel and a lack of sanitary facilities. Many countries under-value girls’ education, with the result that fewer girls enroll and those who do are more likely to drop out. Some 34 million adolescent girls are out of school around the world, and women make up nearly two thirds (almost 500 million) of the world’s illiterate adults. The gender gap has significantly narrowed in primary education but there has been limited progress at the secondary level.

Child labor. Poverty and vulnerability are pushing far too many young children out of school and into the world of work. Some children remain in school, but are disadvantaged doubling up studies with work. For households living in poverty, children may be pulled out of school and into work in the face of external shocks such as natural disasters, rising costs, or a parent’s sickness or unemployment. By leaving school to enter the labor market prematurely, children miss a chance to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of a cycle of poverty. Sometimes children are exposed to the worst forms of labor that is damaging to their physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Ironically, the same barriers that impede access to education could themselves be eradicated by making education more available.

We need education to fight armed conflict

We need education to fight gender discrimination

We need education to end child labor. 

CREDITS DIRECTED BYJonathan Olinger, Michael Trainer SERIES CREATIVE DIRECTOR Michael Trainer WRITERS Lindsay Branham, Jonathan Olinger NARRATED BY America Ferrera PRODUCED BY DTJ ( PRODUCER Lindsay Branham EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Michael Trainer CINEMATOGRAPHY Austin Mann ORIGINAL SCORE Ryan O'Neal ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Adam Butterfield PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Liesbeth Roolvink LEAD EDITOR Jonathan Olinger EDITORS Lindsay Branham VISUAL EFFECTS Dan DiFelice MOTION GRAPHICS Dan Johnson COLOR Matt Fezz SOUND DESIGN Ben Lukas Boysen SOUND MIX Charles de Montebello, CDM Studios, NYC VOICE OVER RECORDING CDM Studios, NYC // VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO: Jane Rosenthal, Nancy Lefkowitz, Srei, her family and the Takeo Community in Cambodia and Global Partnership for Education



Defeat Poverty

Introduction to the importance of primary education