All The Resources
Logo   About The Key
Burger Close Menu Logo Search Close Menu
Poverty Icon
Education and


Key message

Education is a key driver of poverty reduction.

When a country invests in quality education, particularly for lower-income families, poverty decreases. Families who choose to send their children to school can break the cycle of poverty for the next generation. The impact on poverty reduction is especially profound for women and girls.
Copy text
Key challenges
  • Poverty is a vicious cycle: those who need education to escape poverty are the least likely to have access to it. Children from the poorest households are nearly five times more likely to be out of primary school than those from the wealthiest.
    (UNICEF, 2022)
  • Even when in school, children living in poverty learn far less than more wealthy peers. Just 10% of children in low-income countries have acquired the ability to read with a minimum level of comprehension by age ten, compared to 91% of children in high-income countries.
    (Azevedo et al., 2019)
  • Failure to address the learning crisis will significantly affect the future earnings, financial independence, and opportunities of generations of children. An estimated US$10 trillion dollars in lifetime earnings will be lost if urgent action is not taken.
    (World Bank, 2020)
  • Far too many children find themselves living in poverty. Globally, 1.2 billion children are living in poverty. These children are more likely to have lower levels of educational outcomes. A child born into a poor family today will take from 4 to 5 generations to reach the average national level of income.
    (OECD, 2019)  (CENSUS, 2021)
Copy text
Make the case
  • Education lifts people out of poverty. If all adults had a secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty - more than half of the world population still living in extreme poverty.
    (UNESCO, 2017)
  • Even learning basic skills is enough to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and decrease the likelihood that their children will be impoverished. If all students in low income countries acquired basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.
    (EFA GMR, 2014)
  • Education raises individual income, especially for women. Each additional year of schooling can raise an individual’s earnings by 8-10%, with larger gains for women.
    (World Bank, 2018)
  • Education is an important asset to securing formal employment. In developing countries, the share of informal employment decreases from 93.9% for workers with no education, 86% for those with primary education, 59.1% for those with secondary education, and only 32% for those with tertiary education.
    (ILO, 2018)
  • When a country achieves universal primary education, its poorest households enjoy a higher share of income. The expansion of primary education enrolment from 50% to 100% is associated with an 8% increase in the share of income going to households in the poorest 10%.
    (World Bank, 2018)
  • Education helps minorities gain equal access to formal employment and social protection. In Peru, indigenous and non-indigenous people have similar chances of finding formal employment if they have equal educational levels of primary and tertiary education.
    (Montes et al., 2016)
  • Educating women is key to breaking intergenerational poverty The evidence is clear that an educated mother brings substantial health, nutrition, caregiving, and education benefits to her children.
    (Brookings, 2015)  (Theirworld, 2016)
  • Increasing equality and the quality of education is essential to combat economic and gender inequality within society. Investing in universal free public education for all the persons can close different circles: the gap between rich and poor, between women and men, between poor and rich areas within a country and among countries.
    (Spada et al, 2023)
Copy text
Key opinion
Martin Short
Martin Short
Former CEO of Power of Nutrition
Education is a pathway out of poverty. But there are building blocks that remain vital to achieve the greatest impact from that Education. Besides the physical impairment and vulnerability, a stunted child has, on average, lower test scores on cognitive assessments and activity level. This will severely hamper his or her journey through the education system. Education and nutrition are two of the most pressing global issues today, and they are closely interlinked to the intergenerational cycles of poverty and gender inequality. Education, in and of itself, has an enormous positive impact on the disposable income of the family unit and therefore on the nutrition status of a household or a community. Good nutrition allows children to thrive and learn at school, which in turn triggers positive social and economic changes in countries and across generations. Education and nutrition are drivers for development and prosperity.
Copy text
Key talking points
  • 12 years of universal access to quality education could lift 420 million people out of poverty.
  • Securing secondary education for all would bring more than half of the world out of extreme poverty.
  • The impact of education on poverty reduction is particularly significant for girls and women.
Copy text
Share This Resource
Similar Themes
Development Icon
Make the case
Education and
Development Strategy
See more
Equity Icon
Make the case
Education and
See more
Ssafrica Icon
Make the case
Education and
Sub-Saharan Africa
See more
Stay updated
By choosing yes, you’re agreeing to receive email updates from Theirworld about this and other campaigns (from which you can unsubscribe at any time). By signing you’re agreeing to our privacy policy.By choosing yes, you’re agreeing to receive
email updates from Theirworld about this
and other campaigns (from which you can
unsubscribe at any time). By signing you’re
agreeing to our privacy policy.