Two of the biggest myths about global poverty are that countries are doomed to stay poor no matter how much aid they receive and that global poverty is too big to fix. There is progress in the fight to end global poverty every day. Several of the largest importers of American goods and services, including countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, have graduated from U.S. foreign aid programs to economic independence, and global poverty has been cut in half since 1990.
Foreign aid helps contribute to the downsizing of global poverty, but there are other ways to help as well. If total global education were achieved, it would have a significant impact on the reduction of poverty.
Here are six ways global education can reduce global poverty.
- Education can reduce economic inequalities. If everyone had the same amount of education, disparity in working poverty would shrink by 39 percent.
- Education promotes economic growth. According to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), “In 2050, GDP per capita in low-income countries would be almost 70 percent higher if all children were learning.”
- Education can increase earnings. According to UNESCO, one extra year of schooling increases an individual’s earnings by up to 10 percent. According to the GPE, for each additional dollar invested in an extra year of schooling, earnings increase by $5 in low-income countries and $2.5 in lower-middle-income countries.
- Education can lead to gender equality. Women have been proven to reap higher returns from schooling, and some countries that fail to educate their girls properly lose out on an estimated $92 billion in economic growth.
- Education can lead to access to clean water. In rural areas, girls spend 15 hours a day collecting water for their families. If everyone, girls included, were educated properly about their health and water sanitation, local water sanitation would increase. This could potentially lead to a decline in the amount of time needed to fetch water.
- Education can lead to peace and justice. The world’s most dangerous countries are also the poorest. Educated people tend to participate in the democratic process and exercise their civil rights, according to UNESCO. They also tend to be more tolerant of people different than they are.
It would take only $16 billion a year in aid to send all children to school in low-income countries, according to UNESCO. For comparison, the U.S alone spends $601 billion on its military. Global education is attainable, and it can change and save lives.