Like a pie, poverty has many pieces. But among the many causes of poverty, one factor stands out: education. Not every person without an education is living in extreme poverty. But most of those living in extreme poverty do lack a basic education. Those living below the poverty line will also be more likely to keep their children out of school, which means that their children will likewise have a greater chance of living in poverty.
Education is frequently mentioned as the great equalizer: It can open up the door to jobs, resources, and skills that a family and children need to not just survive, but thrive. Access to high-quality primary education and supporting child well-being is a globally-recognized solution to the cycle of poverty. This is, in part, because it also addresses many of the other issues that can keep communities vulnerable. It is time we stop overlooking ways education is the secret ingredient to ending extreme poverty.
Education directly correlates with many solutions to poverty, including:
- Economic growth
- Reduced income inequality
- Reduced infant and maternal deaths
- Reduced stunting
- Reduced vulnerability to HIV and AIDS
- Reduced transmission to Covid-19
- Reduced violence at home and in society
If all students in low-income counties had just basic reading skills (nothing else), an estimated 171 million people could escape extreme poverty. If all adults completed secondary education, we could cut the global poverty rate by more than half.