Education, in general, diminishes poverty, encourages economic growth and increases income. It improves the prospects of having a healthy life, reduces maternal mortality and battles epidemics including HIV/AIDS. Education fosters gender equality, reduces child marriage and promotes peace.
In the late 20th century, the world shifted from being a skills-based society to a global, primarily knowledge-based system. Therefore, the focus of global education needs to expand from its previous focus on predominantly primary and secondary education. Enhanced concentration on tertiary education reduces poverty in this new world environment.
A knowledge-based civilization depends on well-educated societies that rely on the specialized education of citizens to stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship and the dynamism of that country’s economy. Education, science, culture and communication have replaced skills learned in apprenticeship and hands-on training geared toward manual trades.
Today’s economy requires STEM education. STEM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Defined as “an interdisciplinary approach to learning,” STEM education instructs students in technological concepts. Advanced lessons allow students to employ science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Cooperation grows between school, community, work and the global enterprise. STEM literacy permits impoverished nations to compete in a modern economy.
Tertiary education reduces poverty by facilitating STEM learning. Post-secondary education challenges poverty. It empowers students from countries with a high poverty rate to acquire the skills needed to compete in a modern marketplace. Additionally, STEM education furnishes an opportunity for students to return to their homelands (and may yet have family members) to share educational gains with the governments and communities of their youth.
Once completing post-secondary degrees, students who travel from their country of origin for tertiary education acquire higher-paying jobs abroad. Subsequently, they send money back home to their families, a practice called “remittance.” For example, Mexico garners approximately $24.4 billion in remittances each year from immigrants in the U.S. This amount accounts for roughly two percent of the Mexican GDP, according to the World Bank. Across the globe, immigrants sent $583 billion to their home countries in 2014, $440 billion of which went to developing countries.
Although these funds may form just a small fraction of a country’s national GDP, they still account for almost four times the $135 billion in global foreign aid disbursed in 2014. India receives about $12 billion in remittances from the United Arab Emirates, and money sent home from the broader Gulf region plays a significant part in the economy of South Indian states like Kerala.
Completed tertiary education reduces poverty more effectively than secondary education. Those who complete tertiary education are six times less likely to fall below the poverty line. Tertiary instruction reduces poverty through the creation of social equality and empowerment. It creates personal and social opportunities through the development of social capital and assists in the allocation of funds by extending possibilities for employability, income and movement between social strata.
– Heather Hopkins