5 ways education can help end extreme poverty

October 17 is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. We believe that ensuring quality education for all is not only central to the achievement of all of the Global Goals but in particular the goal to end extreme poverty. Two recent reports provide data that illustrates this link.

October 17, 2016 by GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
Student, Ivy Ng'oma writes on blackboard at the Muzu primary school in Malawi. Credit: GPE/Govati Nyirenda

Last year when the United Nations committed to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, they recognized that “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”

We believe that ensuring quality education for all is not only central to the achievement of all of the Global Goals but in particular the goal to end extreme poverty.

Considering the changing nature of the global economy, driven by technological advancements and globalization, it is now more important than ever to invest in human capital and ensure that everyone has the skills necessary to succeed. According to recent estimates, up to 2 billion of today’s jobs are at risk of being replaced by automation by 2030.

The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report and the Education Commission’s Learning Generation Report provide important evidence on the impact of education on individual’s earnings and economic growth. Below are some of the most compelling data that illustrate these links.

1.Education reduces poverty

  • 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if all children left school with basic reading skills. That’s equivalent to a 12% drop in the world total.
  • Absolute poverty could be reduced by 30% from learning improvements outlined by the Education Commission.

2.Education increases individual earnings

  • Education increases earnings by roughly 10% per each additional year of schooling.
  • For each $1 invested in an additional year of schooling earnings increase by $5 in low-income countries and $2.5 in lower-middle income countries.

3.Education reduces economic inequalities

  • If workers from poor and rich backgrounds received the same education, disparity between the two in working poverty could decrease by 39%.

4.Education promotes economic growth

  • Educational attainment explains about half of the difference in growth rates between East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa between 1965 and 2010.
  • In 2050, GDP per capita in low-income countries would be almost 70% lower than it would be if all children were learning.
  • Increasing tertiary attainment by one year on average would increase sub-Saharan Africa’s long-term GDP by 16%. 

5. Education helps save the planet*

*What does that have to do with poverty? Hear us out…

  • Overall climate change and the resulting increased frequency of natural disasters and reduced agricultural output could cast as many as 122 million people into poverty by 2030.
  • The creation of green industries will rely on high-skilled, educated workers.
  • Agriculture contributes 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions. Primary and secondary education can provide future farmers with critical knowledge about sustainability challenges in agriculture.


UNESCO GEM Report 2016

Learning Generation Report

Results map

Map of results stories

Explore the impact of GPE around the world.

View map

Related blogs


I work for Centre for Communities education and Youth Development in Ghana (CCEYD) and am much interested in knowing more about the work of GPE and how we can work together.

Education is a must to each and every one. Each one teach one. Kids are our future.

In reply to by Sudhir Sajwan

Education opportunities in conjunction with a healthy diet are the key components to helping those less fortunate. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN is working with communities to bring long-term food shortages to Syria by transforming school playgrounds into gardens to feed children and communities whose diet has been depleted by the civil war. Source: https://www.ccfcanada.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7…

Quality education is not only on acquisition of skills for employability but acquisition of skills for job creation.

All this info is shocking and helpful. This helped me with 20% of my speech that I had to do about poverty.

yes. i agree much

2 trains of education is not education!!! It is pure discrimination of the 21st Century...!!!
If workers from poor and rich backgrounds received the same education, disparity between the two in working poverty could decrease by 39%.


Please give me many tips or lines about through education end poverty in Pakistan in simple English

This article was helpful for my essays references and sources. I'm still working on my essay and so if any new article is published please let me know. Thank you.

Very informative

In reply to by Tchim Tabaro

Education is the fundation for society transformation. It can be formel or unformal.
There is also the Peace education, or an education that promotes a culture of peace, is essentially transformative. It cultivates the knowledge base, skills, attitudes and values that seek to transform people’s mindsets, attitudes and behaviors that, in the first place, have either created or exacerbated violent conflicts.

The information on this platform is incredible. Please, be emailing me more information on education.

this is very educative and very smart and helpful.

Information is key and this is powerfully equip

It really helped me with my assignment. Thanks 👍

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Global and entity tokens are replaced with their values. Browse available tokens.
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.