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.
If I was educated and had skills, I would be able to get a proper job that pays well and would be able to support my family, said Charity Mukupa – a 41 year old woman from Chabanyama, Zambia.
Charity is a single parent who takes care of her 5 children financially. She struggles to make ends meet, as the income she earns as a house helper is not enough.
She reiterated how important getting education is, in order to get out of poverty. But she also noted how difficult it is to get education in her area as many families are poor and live below the poverty line. Paying school fees for them is not affordable, as a result, kids end up dropping out of school.
“I work as a house maid and the income I get is not enough to take my five children to school or sustain them for the whole month looking at the increasing prices of food and house rentals, it is hard to survive,” she said.
Similarly to Charity, Jane Bwalya – a 37 years old has to fend for herself and her six children after she got divorced from her husband.
Jane wishes that she had acquired basic skill when it was still early for her to do so. She believes that low skills perpetuate poverty and inequality and that kills development can reduce unemployment.
She said “I would love to have a skill because this can help me to get a job or be empowered financially so that I can start a business”.
The two women above both talk about lack of skills and education being the contributor to them being poor. With that being said, it seems that it is now more important than ever to invest in human capital and ensure that everyone has the skills necessary to succeed.
When members of 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.
In a study conducted by African Monitor in Zambia as part of our Citizen Report project in 2018, findings tell us that school-going age children are out of school or have dropped out of school due to behavioral and learning difficulties, affordability of school fees, or the long distance they have to walk to school. Child marriage and early pregnancy was also found to be one of the reasons children became school drop outs.
In that study, parents also complained about the school fees and the associated costs despite the government of Zambia having introduced the free education policy. We expect from government that resources will be made available to address the school fees associated cost of schooling. Schooling should also be made accessible for disabled and special needs pupils as well as decisive actions to address child marriage and early pregnancies.
Education reduces economic inequalities. Government policies must promote equity in access to education and learning. No child should drop out of school just because their family is poor. No child should be out of school because there is not school closer to where they live. Investments in education should be every government’s priority. From preschool through higher education, investing in education will have high returns for communities and nations as a whole.