As the General Assembly kicks off in New York, the GMR has produced a new widely-supported booklet showing that education is a catalyst for each of the proposed post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
Education is positively intertwined with each of the proposed sustainable development targets that will replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. That’s the key point of a new booklet that we are releasing today in New York at the start of the UN General Assembly. For the new global development agenda to succeed and last, it is critically important that we approach the future with holistic strategies and cross-sectoral collaborations.
The booklet’s arguments and findings have received far-reaching support from across the development world, as the quotes in this blog make clear. They will be discussed today in New York at an event chaired by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 development planning, and including speakers from Women Deliver, the World Food Programme and UNICEF.
The need to provide quality education to the greatest number of people is interwoven through all the proposed new goals:
Goal 1: Poverty reduction: The booklet shows that education is critical to escape chronic poverty and to prevent the transmission of poverty between generations. Education also enables those working in the formal labour market to earn higher wages: One year of education is associated with a 10% increase in wages.
Goal 2: Nutrition improvement: The devastating impact of malnutrition on children’s lives is preventable with the help of education. If all women had a secondary education, they would know the nutrients that children need, the hygiene rules they should follow and they would have a stronger voice in the home to ensure proper care. Improved nutrition would save more than 12 million children from being stunted – a sign of early childhood malnutrition.
Goal 3: Health and wellbeing: Education helps women recognize early signs of illness in their children, seek advice and act on it. If all women in poor countries completed primary education, child mortality would drop by a sixth, saving almost one million lives each year. If they all had a secondary education, it would be halved, saving three million lives.
Education can prevent maternal death by helping women recognize danger signs, seek care and make sure trained health workers are present at births. If all women completed primary education, maternal death would be cut by two-thirds, saving 189,000 lives each year.
Goal 4: Education: Education lights every stage of the journey to a better life, especially for the poor and the most vulnerable. To unlock the wider benefits of education, all children need the chance to complete not only primary school but also lower secondary school. And access to schooling is not enough on its own: education needs to be of good quality so that children actually learn.
Goal 5: Gender equality and women’s empowerment: Educated girls and young women are more likely to know their rights and have the confidence to claim them. In sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, nearly three million girls are married by age 15. If all young women in these regions completed primary education, the number of child brides would be reduced by almost half a million. Completing secondary education would reduce that number by two million.
Goals 6 and 7: Water and energy sustainability: Education can help people make better use of scarce resources. A study of households in 10 OECD countries found that those with more education tended to save water.
Goal 8 and 9: Economic growth and decent work: Education generates productivity gains that fuel economic growth. An increase in the average educational attainment of a country’s population by one year increases annual per capita GDP growth from 2 to 2.5 per cent.
Goal 10: Inequality Reduction: Expanding education, in particular ensuring that most people have secondary schooling, is essential to reduce inequality within countries. In France, Malaysia and Brazil, income inequality fell by about seven percentage points over two decades as the share of population with secondary education grew.
Goals 11- 15: Environmental protection: The higher the level of education, the more likely it is that people express concern for the environment. In 47 countries covered by the 2005–2008 World Values Survey, a person with secondary education was about 10 percentage points more likely to express such concern than a person with primary education.
Goal 16: Peaceful, just and inclusive societies: Analysis of surveys in 36 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America shows that education is associated with higher voting levels. This is especially true for countries where average levels of education are lower. In addition, while a low level of education does not automatically lead to conflict, it is an important risk factor: if the male secondary school enrolment ratio were 10 percentage points higher than average, the risk of war would decline by a quarter.
On the back of this new booklet, we are calling on members of the public to sign up to a pledge online saying that they pledge to collaborate and work together in the future ‘. The full list of signatories will be presented to the United Nations Secretary General and his advisors on development post-2015 at the end of the proceedings in New York this month. It is inspired by the compelling evidence in today’s new booklet of the dynamic interplay between education and other development priorities. These findings should remind us that only by working together can we achieve development that is comprehensive, equitable and lasting.