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Fighting Poverty Through Education


Indian student Aruna Bariya, 14, center, attends school at Utavali village in Narmada district of Gujarat state, India. (File)

The surest way to pull people out of poverty is to provide them with an education.

The surest way to pull people out of poverty is to provide them with an education. In fact, according to the World Bank, education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality, and lays a foundation for sustained economic growth. For every extra school year completed, a worker’s earnings increase by 10 percent.

It is no wonder then that some of the poorest countries in the world also have the highest levels of illiteracy, particularly among women. So for example, 73% of the adult population of South Sudan, is illiterate, and fewer than half of school-aged children were enrolled in school last year. Only 3 in 10 secondary students are girls.

This is partly due to the on-going conflict in South Sudan. Some 1,200 schools have closed in the most conflict-affected states, while 90 schools are occupied by fighting forces or internally displaced persons. On top of that, about 400,000 children have dropped out due to the crisis.

Increasing access to education is an important part of the United States’ strategy to eliminate extreme poverty. That is why the United States currently supports six education projects in South Sudan, worth more than 165 million dollars.

The newest of these is a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental development organization. The partnership aims to provide quality basic education to children in South Sudan who are currently not attending school.

Established in Bangladesh in 1971, BRAC has been extraordinarily successful in pulling people out of poverty in Bangladesh and in 10 other countries. The NGO works by empowering the poor and creating opportunities for them, largely through education.

The United States is committed to helping South Sudan and its people thrive, and we believe that improving access to quality education for the country’s children will go a long way toward reaching that goal.

"The children of today are the potential leaders of this country tomorrow," said U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Ambassador Charles Twining. “The United States is proud to [help ensure] that [South Sudan’s] children achieve that potential to lead this country tomorrow.”

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