Reflections on Achieving the Global Education Goals image Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images

Reflections on Achieving the Global Education Goals

In today’s deeply interconnected world, the benefits of strong and inclusive education systems are far-reaching. A quality education gives people the knowledge they need to recognize the importance of safeguarding the planet’s finite resources, appreciate diversity and resist intolerance, and act as informed global citizens.

NEW YORK – Throughout my life, I have seen the power of education. I have witnessed how quality education for all can support the creation of dynamic economies and help to sustain peace, prosperity, and stability. I have also observed how education instills in individuals, no matter their circumstances, a strong sense of self, as well as confidence in their place in the world and their future prospects.

But I have also seen what happens when young people and their communities are robbed of education – and of the optimism it engenders. In my country, Nigeria, the militant Islamist group Boko Haram purposely removes young people, especially young girls, from education to engineer a lost generation. The consequences are manifold: loss of dignity, exclusion, declining health, poverty and stagnating economic growth, and the denial of rights.

We know that each additional year of schooling raises average annual GDP growth by 0.37%, while increasing an individual’s earnings by up to 10%. If every girl worldwide received 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could double, reaching $30 trillion. And if all girls and boys completed secondary education, an estimated 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty. According to a 2018 World Bank report, universal secondary education could even eliminate child marriage.

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