UNESCO Publications Assess Links between Education, Poverty and Health
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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UNESCO has published two reports addressing the effect of education on poverty and health outcomes.

The report on education and poverty finds that the global poverty rate could be more than halved if all adults completed secondary school.

July 2017: Recent publications by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) address education in relation to poverty and early pregnancy.

The UNESCO report finds that, if all adults completed secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty, reducing the total number of poor people by more than one-half globally.

The report titled, ‘Reducing global poverty through universal primary and secondary education,’ argues that nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling. The report finds that, if all adults completed secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty, reducing the total number of poor people by more than one-half globally and by almost two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Despite education’s potential, the UNESCO publication finds that there has been virtually no progress in reducing out-of-school rates in recent years. Globally, 9% of all children of primary school age are still denied their right to education, with rates reaching 16% and 37% for youth of lower and upper secondary ages, respectively. In total, the policy paper notes, 264 million children, adolescents and youth were out of school in 2015, with Sub-Saharan Africa remaining the region with the highest out-of-school rates for all age groups. The paper calls on countries to improve the quality of education and to reduce the direct and indirect costs of education for families.

A second UNESCO report addresses the detrimental effects of early and unintended pregnancies on the lives of adolescent girls with regards to health, social, economic, and education outcomes. The report titled, ‘Early and unintended pregnancy: Recommendations for the education sector,’ finds that girls with higher levels of education are less likely have an early and unintended pregnancy, with each additional year of education bringing a 10% reduction in fertility. The report highlights several negative effects of such pregnancies, including: risks of expulsion from school and home; stigmatization by family; vulnerability to violence; greater poverty and maternal death; and health complications. The report highlights that pregnancy and childbirth complications are the second cause of death among 15 to 19 year olds.

Through the technical paper, UNESCO aims to provide operational guidance for the education sector on how to address early and unintended pregnancy. Recommendations include promotion of re-entry policies, comprehensive sexuality education for pregnancy prevention, access to school health services, and safe school environments for girls.

UNESCO notes that addressing early and unintended pregnancies also contribute to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 1 (no poverty); SDG 3 (good health and well-being); SDG 5 (gender equality); and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). [Publication: Reducing Global Poverty through Universal Primary and Secondary Education] [UN Press Release on UNESCO Policy Paper] [UNESCO Press Release on UNESCO Policy Paper][Publication: Early and Unintended Pregnancy: Recommendations for the Education Sector] [UN Press Release on UNESCO Technical Paper] [UNESCO Press Release on UNESCO Technical Paper]

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