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Youthink! Issues - Education

Knowledge or skill developed by a learning process or experience
© The World Bank

What is it?

Education is central to development. It empowers people, strengthens nations, and is key to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

Getting an education is one of the best things you, as a young person, can do for yourself to ensure you lead a better, more fulfilling and prosperous life.

  • Education can significantly improve people's lives. It benefits people, society, and the world as a whole.
  • It enables people to read, reason, communicate, and make informed choices about their lives.
  • A more educated person often has more opportunities in life, earns more, and has a higher standard of living.
  • Each year of schooling increases a person's earnings by 10%.
  • Skilled workers enable a country to develop and become wealthier, which benefits everyone.
  • A skilled labor force creates, applies and spreads new ideas and technologies. Without education, inventions like electricity, medicine, cars, computers, video games, and much more wouldn't exist.

Why should I care?

  • Around 72 million primary school-age children around the world aren't in school. Poor kids often can't go to school because they need to work to help their families survive.
  • Girls represent more than half -- 55% -- of out-of-school children.
  • More than 70% of out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • Of those who go to school, many drop out before they master basic reading, writing and math skills. In half of developing countries, about a fifth of pupils don’t reach the last grade of primary school. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 67% of students make it that far.
  • Around 776 million adults in the world are illiterate. Women account for two-thirds of them.
  • Enrollment in tertiary education (university level) in developing countries was less than 20% in 2006, compared to 67% in developed countries.
  • North America and Western Europe spend an average of $5,500 per student each year while countries in sub-Saharan Africa spend $167.
  • Child malnutrition is a global epidemic that affects one in three children under the age of 5 and undermines their ability to learn.

What is the international community doing?

At the World Education Forum in 2000, world leaders and 180 countries agreed that by 2015 all boys and girls should be enrolled in school and able to complete primary education.

This international commitment to give every boy and girl in developing countries a good, free, and compulsory primary school education is called Education for All (EFA).

To help accomplish the goals, donors partnered with the countries most in need to help them develop good education plans and help all kids complete their schooling.

This global partnership, called the Education for All -- Fast Track Initiative (FTI) was launched in 2002. Donors provide financial and technical support while countries work to develop sound national education plans.

The Fast Track Initiative includes all major education donors, more than 30 bilateral, regional, and international agencies and development banks. Currently 41 countries are receiving support.

The World Bank is the biggest funder of education globally. The Bank works closely with governments, United Nations, donors, civil society organizations, and other partners to help developing countries enroll all children, especially girls and disadvantaged children, in school and enable them to complete a primary education.

What can I do?

First, in whatever way you can, keep learning. Go to school, read books, learn a new craft, and talk to people who are different from you. Lifelong learning can enrich your life and the lives of others in your community, both socially and financially. Education helps you to strengthen your skills, learn your rights, and find your voice.

  • Become a tutor: Ask a school leader or teacher how you can help.
  • Donate a Book: Book Aid offers ways for you to help "open up the world through books."
  • Help Build a School: Join Habitat for Humanity.

For more information: Education

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