A new UNESCO policy paper shows that the global poverty rate could be more than halved if all adults completed secondary school. Yet, new data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show persistently high out-of-school rates in many countries, making it likely that completion levels in education will remain well below that target for generations to come.
The paper, Reducing global poverty through universal primary and secondary education
, is being released ahead of the UN High Level Political Forum
(10-19 July), which will focus on poverty eradication in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development. The paper demonstrates the importance of recognizing education as a core lever for ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere.
“The new analysis on education’s far-reaching benefits released today should be good news for all those working on the Sustainable Development Goal to eradicate poverty by 2030,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. “It shows that we have a concrete plan to ensure people no longer have to live on barely a few dollars a day, and that that plan has education at its heart.”
The new analysis on education’s impact on poverty by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report team is based on the average effects of education on growth and poverty reduction in developing countries from 1965 to 2010. It shows that nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling. If all adults completed secondary education, 420 million could be lifted out of poverty, reducing the total number of poor people by more than half globally and by almost two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Studies have shown that education has direct and indirect impacts on both economic growth and poverty. Education provides skills that boost employment opportunities and incomes while helping to protect people from socio-economic vulnerabilities. A more equitable expansion of education is likely to reduce inequality, lifting the poorest from the bottom of the ladder.