Importance of Education for Developing Nations

Education Contributes to Higher Earning Potential

  • A single year of primary school increases a boy’s future earning potential by five to 15 percent and a girl’s even more.

Education Contributes to Improving Child Survival and Maternal Health

  • A child born to an educated mother is more than twice as likely to survive to the age of five as a child born to an uneducated mother.
  • Educated mothers are 50 percent more likely to immunize their children than mothers with no schooling.
  • Women with six or more years of education are more likely to seek prenatal care, assisted childbirth, and postnatal care, reducing the risk of maternal and child mortality and illness.

Education Helps Reduce Hunger

  • Expanding education for girls is one of the most powerful ways to fight hunger12. Gains in women’s education made the most significant difference in reducing malnutrition, out-performing a simple increase in the availability of food.
  • A 63-country study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found that more productive farming as a result of female education accounted for 43 percent of the decline in malnutrition achieved between 1970 and 1995.
  • Crop yields in Kenya could rise up to 22 percent if female farmers had the same education and inputs (such as fertilizer, credit, investment) as male farmers13.
  • Education and food security are directly connected: doubling primary school attendance among impoverished rural children can cut food insecurity by up to 25 percent.

Education Helps Reduce Disease and Transmission

  • Education Contributes to the Fight against HIV/AIDS.
  • Educated people are healthier people in general.
  • HIV/AIDS infection rates are halved among young people who finish primary school.
  • If every girl and boy received a complete primary education, at least 7 million new cases of HIV could be prevented in a decade.
  • A Ugandan study showed that rural Ugandans with secondary education have a 75 percent lower rate of HIV infection than those with no education.


  • “What Works in Girls’ Education.” Barbara Herz and Gene B. Sperling, Senior Fellow for Economic Policy and Director of the Center for Universal Education, April 2004.
  • “The Economic and Human Development Costs of Missing the Millennium Development Goal on Gender Equity.” World Bank Discussion Paper 29710. D. Abu-Ghaida and S. Klasen. (Washington: World Bank, 2004)
  • “Explaining Child Malnutrition in Developing Countries.” International Food Policy Research Institute Research Report No.111. L. Smith and L. Haddad. (Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute).
  • “Hunger Report 2005.” Bread for the World. (
  • UNFPA, UN Population Fund, State of World Population 2005: The Promise of Equality. UNFPA, New York, 2005, p. 47
  • “Learning to Survive: How education for all would save millions of young people from HIV/AIDS.” Global Campaign for Education. (London: GCE, 2004).
  • United Nations Food and Agriculture Department.