“Education is an empowering right and one of the most powerful tools by which economically and socially marginalized children and adults can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully in society.” – UNESCO
The Hunger Project’s programs throughout Africa, South Asia and Latin America are based on a holistic approach that empowers women and men living in rural villages to become the agents of their own development and make sustainable progress in overcoming hunger and poverty. Central to this approach is harnessing the power of education.
A new UNESCO policy paper shows that the global poverty rate could be more than halved if all adults completed secondary school. The paper also shows that nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling.
Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and essential for the attainment of all Sustainable Development Goals. The goal seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Governments and the rest of the international community have the primary responsibility to ensure the achievement of SDG 4. Quality education includes the promotion of smart, innovative measures to reach younger students. It also includes relevant education and training that can help address common social, environmental and economic challenges across the world.
Especially important is the need to ensure that girls and women have access to equal educational opportunities as boys and men. When a girl has the opportunity to be educated and healthy, she thrives and the whole of society benefits. Educated girls marry later, have healthier children and take an active role in their communities to ensure the rights of other women are upheld.
Yet, according to the World Bank, 80% of out-of-school girls will never start compared to 16% out-of-school boys. That’s an important number if you think that 66% of maternal deaths could be avoided if all women completed primary education (UNESCO).
Education is fundamental to achieving our vision of a world where every woman, man and child leads a healthy and fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity.
That’s why education is at the heart of all our work. For example:
Promoting Equal Education for Girls: Our animators across Asia, Africa and Latin America run educational campaigns to promote childhood primary school enrollment, especially for girl children. In Bangladesh, for example, The Hunger Project has been implementing the “Safe Schools for Girls” campaign to increase girls’ attendance in school, reduce dropouts, improve the quality of education available to girls and promote additional opportunities for girls in and out of school.
Preschool and School Feeding Programs: Our epicenters in Africa operate preschool programs that include the provision of one nutritious meal per day. The one-meal-per-day program has two goals. On one hand, it works to ensure a nutritious meal for the children and promote healthy growth. On the other, it also encourages parents to bring their children to preschool. And when children are in preschool, mothers have more time for their own education and other income-generating activities. In 2016, more than half of the 9,642 children were enrolled in the nursery school programs at our epicenters, with more than half of them were girls.
Youth Ending Hunger Education Campaigns: Trained Youth Ending Hunger Leaders in Bangladesh plan monthly activities in their communities with an emphasis on literacy and education, such as environmental education awareness campaigns, debates, math Olympiads, writing competitions, roundtables and blood donation camps.
Functional Adult Literacy programs: They educate community partners and empower them with the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to grow their businesses.
Our Women’s Empowerment Program in Africa educates women and men about female leadership, gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights, family planning, credit management and the importance of education for girl children.
In India, our Women’s Leadership Workshop educates women who have been elected to their local council, providing them with the information and knowledge about their key roles and responsibilities in their Panchayats. This enables them to lead, own and shape development processes that give priority to basic services like water, sanitation, education, health care and an efficient food system in their communities.
It takes a truly holistic approach to end hunger and poverty. And when there’s access to education, everybody thrives.
Header photo: A government teacher works with grade two students in class at a literacy center in Tumano, Ethiopia, built by The Hunger Project in 2009. Credit: David Snyder.