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Global Access to Higher EducationAccess to education, or a lack of access to education, is a key indicator of poverty in many countries. Many cannot afford to send their children to school, need them to work at home, or have no school near them. As a result, it becomes difficult to beat the cycle of poverty. Global access to higher education is especially important, as it is necessary for access to increased salaries. 

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Enrollment in higher education doubled between 2000 and 2018. This means that, though many aren’t actually graduating from college or trade school, they are gaining skill sets that will allow them to break the cycle. However, it is important to note that there still exists a large gap in access between the rich and poor, and many of the poorest countries have extremely limited access to higher education. 

Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia have the lowest access to higher education. Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are also the two poorest regions in the world, accounting for five of every six people in poverty around the world. These two facts are closely linked, as access to higher education is closely linked to poverty. Increasing access to higher education in those regions would help reduce the levels of poverty there as well. 

Access to higher education is lower among the world’s refugees. In 2023, while rates of primary and secondary school education are 68% and 34%, higher education only has an enrollment of 5% among refugees. Because the world’s refugees have such low access to education compared to the global average, it can be difficult for refugees to escape poverty in the countries they move to.

Women have higher enrollment rates than men. Around the world, women have rates of enrollment in higher education 5% higher than men. While men only increased 17% over the last 20 years, women’s enrollment has increased 22%. However, there are many fields, specifically in the sciences and engineering, where women are still behind men. Increasing access in those fields will allow more women to contribute to other important parts of the world’s economy. 

Global Learning Poverty

Global learning poverty increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to school closings, many students learned remotely or not at all throughout the pandemic. Poorer countries have been hit the hardest, and learning poverty jumped from 57% to 70% in those countries. While this has reversed many years of work to increase education access and literacy rates, as the world returns to normal, that rate will begin to drop again.

– John Rooney
Photo: Flickr

4 Ways Educating Women Reduces Poverty

While global poverty affects people of all ages, races and genders, one truth can be agreed on: poverty disproportionately affects women. Researchers claim that 60 percent of hungry people are women, and women own less than 20 percent of privately-owned land. The global education statistics mirror the statistics concerning poverty. Two-thirds of the 796 million people who are illiterate are women. Is this a coincidence? It’s not likely, and here’s why.

Education is key to lifting individuals and families out of poverty and stimulates economic growth in a community. Girls are systemically denied education more often than boys, resulting in more impoverished women. While these statistics are discouraging, they actually provide a tangible step to ending global poverty: educating women. Here are four ways educating women reduces poverty.

  1. Improving the Health of Mothers and Babies

    One-third of girls in developing countries are married off before the age of 18, and most have children within a few years. Most of these marriages are arranged, and this can be incredibly dangerous as more girls between the ages of 15 and 19 die from pregnancy complications than anything else. Educated women tend to get married later and give birth to healthier babies. In Egypt, the children of educated mothers are half as likely to die as the children of uneducated mothers. Educating women reduces poverty by resulting in healthier mothers and babies. Growing up without a mother increases the chances of living in poverty, especially for females, and education is a tangible way to combat this issue.

  2. Increasing Wages

    Educated people are almost always paid more than uneducated people. Educating women reduces poverty by empowering them to seek more ambitious work opportunities. Research has shown that an additional year of schooling can increase a woman’s earnings by almost 25 percent. An increase in employment results in economic growth, which decreases the poverty levels in a community.

  3. Halting Generational Poverty

    Poverty is a cycle, an unwanted gift handed down from generation to generation. Poor families tend to live near each other, creating an impoverished community. When parents are well-educated, they tend to bring in more money and give their children more educational opportunities. Women also tend to spend more money on food and education for their children than men do, and educated women are more likely to value education. Educating women increases the chances that their children will be educated, and education is the number one tool to lift people out of poverty. Essentially, anything done to benefit the mother in a family will automatically trickle down to benefit her children.

  4. Investing in Communities

    Women are more likely to remain in their communities, and education better equips them to give back. It is estimated that some countries sustain more than $1 billion in losses as a result of inadequately educating girls. Educating women reduces poverty by empowering them to rise into leadership roles and make decisions that better their communities.

The research on the subject asserts that educating women reduces poverty, and this offers hope for a brighter future. If governments prioritize female poverty, they will be able to see a tangible improvement in the status of global poverty.

– Julia McCartney

Photo: Flickr