Workshop on Education and Poverty Eradication Kampala,
Uganda, 30 July to 3 August 2001
is not a way to escape poverty - It is a way of fighting it."
Julius Nyerere, former President of the United Republic of
Eradication and Education
the World Education Forum held in Dakar in April 2000, the
international community underscored the need to eradicate
extreme poverty and gave its collective commitment to work
towards this aim through education. A commitment to poverty
eradication was also one of the most important outcomes of
the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen
in 1995, where abject poverty was considered a severe injustice
and an abuse of human rights. Its action programme proposes
to support livelihood systems and survival skills to help
poor people to combat poverty. Subsequently, the United Nations
General Assembly declared the period 1997 to 2006 as the First
United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.
role of education in poverty eradication, in close co-operation
with other social sectors, is crucial. No country has succeeded
if it has not educated its people. Not only is education important
in reducing poverty, it is also a key to wealth creation.
Within this context, one of the pledges of the Dakar Framework
for Action - Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments
- was "to promote EFA policies within a sustainable and well-integrated
sector framework clearly linked to poverty elimination and
role of education in this process is particularly one of achieving
universal primary education and adult literacy. The report
made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations within
the context of the Decade for the Eradication of Poverty confirms
that universal primary education is central to the fight against
poverty. Understandably so, because this is the level of education
through which most poor children pass and within which their
achievements should assist them to break the cycle of poverty.
In fact, education is the social institution that reaches
the largest segment of the population with the goal of guiding
it through a systematic learning process.
Has Been Done So Far?
the years following the Copenhagen World Summit much has been
achieved worldwide. UNDP has undertaken a number of important
studies on poverty eradication in developing countries, many
of whom are already preparing their national Poverty Reduction
Strategy Papers (PRSP), and some of whom - Burkina Faso, Mauritania,
Tanzania and Uganda - have already finalized them. Some countries
have also established offices for planning and monitoring
poverty reduction policies and programmes. DFID has produced
a White Paper on International Development that focuses on
the eradication of extreme poverty. The World Bank has published
a source book of poverty reduction strategies covering most
of the dimensions of poverty and is the prime mover behind
the PRSPs. Similarly, many other agencies and institutions
have refocused their programmes to place greater emphasis
on this persisting issue. The planned investments for poverty
eradication programmes should make an impact if they are appropriately
channeled and monitored.
World Bank and IMF are instituting new frameworks to address
poverty by aligning social sector development closely with
macro-economic policies and strategies. One of these new efforts
is the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) which
has reduced the debt burdens of many of the world's poorest
nations, and a proposal to link debt-relief to country-owned
Poverty Reduction Strategies is being negotiated. Examples
already exist of countries (e.g. Mozambique and Bolivia) that
have used their debt relief to channel resources to education.
the context of macro economic programmes, special attention
must be paid to breaking the poverty cycle for children. The
adoption of systemic changes should be urged to ensure good
quality education for all children. Individual developing
countries (e.g. Indonesia) are attempting to design their
education systems so as to cater for children's diverse needs
and even to provide additional support outside academic classes.
Furthermore, there are schools and communities that, particularly
through NGOs and missionary groups, have successfully provided
for the education of poor children. Such experiences usually
combine school education with health care, guidance and counseling
services and income generating activities. Unlike economic
strategies, the impact of education on poverty eradication
tends to be less direct, although providing long term benefits.
Nonetheless, education is pivotal in breaking the vicious
cycle of poverty and social exclusion that is the reality
for many people.
has prepared various papers on poverty eradication within
its fields of competence, and approached the issue through
its projects. Poverty eradication is a priority in the Programme
and Budget for 2002-2003 (31C/5) and appropriate initiatives
will be implemented in all UNESCO programmes during the coming
six years of its work.
Issues to Be Addressed by Education
children have numerous disadvantages in relation to their
better-off counterparts. They are usually less healthy, their
language skills less developed (a factor that has negative
influence on school achievement), and they are generally less
well equipped - socially, emotionally and physically - to
undertake a school programme. If their disadvantaged position
and different day-to-day experiences are not taken into account
by school education, it is no wonder that they are unable
to benefit fully from the school system.
situations of extreme poverty, girls are particularly at risk
as they tend to inherit the poverty of their mothers. They
are prone to abuse of all forms, and very often confined to
households in which they are virtually slaves. UNICEF has
been working on this issue as part of the follow-up to the
1993 Ouagadougou Pan-African Conference on the Education of
Girls. Other groups of poor children who merit special attention
are children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, street children, and children
of some ethnic minorities. For them, the provision of non-academic
support and security is essential in order to contribute to
their total well being and success in life. Moreover, dialogue
and cooperation with parents and families should improve their
participation and performance in education.
previously mentioned, wealth creation is a significant aspect
in education programmes intended to contribute to poverty
eradication. How can education assist learners to create wealth?
Integration of school education within the economic activities
of a community is one example. For instance, in a carpet-weaving
village, lessons would also cover various aspects of the carpet
industry. In this way, school education would help children
to improve traditional trade skills of the village alongside
other curricular contents. It would ensure their future employment
possibilities and contribute to the (economic) well being
of the whole community. Furthermore, the school would not
then be alienated from the community and traditional trades
would reinforce learning.
the education system to truly respond to the needs of poor
children and to contribute to wealth creation in communities
and society at large, it needs to take the issue of poverty
into special consideration in the planning of educational
services. Essentially, it has to stress the preparation of
all children to achieve at school, and empower them by heightening
their awareness of their rights and responsibilities, their
abilities, and enhance their self-confidence to enable them
to improve their lives.
challenge calls for a stocktaking of the 'state' of poor children
(situation, conditions, reasons for poverty, etc.) so that
appropriate support can be planned and targeted to them. Education
systems need to heed the lessons of successful, and less successful,
initiatives implemented by NGOs, private individuals, religious
bodies and Governments themselves, and translate these initiatives
into policies, strategies, and specific action that can be
taken to scale.
2. International Workshop on Education and Poverty Eradication
purpose of the International Workshop is to bring together
educators working in poverty education policy, plans and programmes
and representatives of other sectors, including health and
social welfare, to exchange ideas and explore options for
reaching the poorest children with good quality education.
It should identify a common core of strategies to be shared
among countries and to which they can refer when preparing
or implementing their poverty eradication programmes. These
strategies will identify steps and change processes needed
at the primary level to make it more responsive to the needs
of the poor. They will help countries to define more clearly
and explicitly the role of education and the needs of children
in their national efforts to eradicate poverty.
- Identification and analysis of successful experiences. This
will be done mainly through consulting existing documentation,
as many experiences are already available.
- Two countries will be invited to present their national
plans of action for poverty eradication to the Meeting highlighting
the role of education therein.
- Partnerships will be sought with UNESCO sectors and field
offices, with various agencies, NGOs, and Ministries of Education.
- Three countries will be requested to present strategic models
for monitoring programmes to reach children in extreme poverty.
- A special paper will be prepared on the conditions of children
orphaned by AIDS, as they are among the poor children whose
numbers will substantially increase in the near future.
Workshop will be organized in plenary sessions, roundtables,
and small working groups.
sessions will address the following issues:
- Common characteristics of the experiences of programmes
for children in abject poverty - Moving towards systemic changes.
- Breaking the poverty cycle for children, particularly girls.
- Children orphaned by AIDS, with special attention to the
situation of girls.
- Strategic monitoring of programmes for poor children.
- Collaboration of different agencies/partners to coherently
progress towards the implementation of national plans for
roundtable sessions will concentrate on the following themes:
Role of education in poverty eradication (emphasis on action):
What are the core ways through which education can combat
- How can public education systems be adapted to meet the
needs of the poor?
How should responsibility be shared with other social sectors?
How can the accountability of different stakeholders be assured?
How can delivery and support systems ensure achievement for
From Short-term to Long-term Development - Changing Values
poverty is more than not having money; it is a form of social
exclusion. Regrettably, it is sometimes even sustained by
society (e.g. through child labor) since it offers short-term
benefits for the country and privileges for a few. However,
not only is this an abuse of human rights, but also an immense
waste of national, human resources.
number of working group sessions will depend upon the number
of participants. However, there will be at least five working
groups. Each group will be responsible for identifying essential
policies and strategies in the following areas of education:
- What is the role of the teacher and teacher-training in
ensuring that all children learn at school? What are relevant
contents to be covered, methods and evaluation to be used,
to promote the creation of an enabling learning environment
- What policies are needed in the education system to ensure
that children from the poorest families have equal opportunity
to access and succeed in learning? (Attention to the advantaged
and disadvantaged). What kind of capacity building is needed
to implement the proposed policies?
- In what ways can cultural traditions and practices help
to improve educational opportunities for the poorest children?
- If there are multiple providers of education for the poorest
children, how can progress be coherently monitored in both
quantitative and qualitative terms?
the end of the workshop participants should have drawn up
a set of policies, strategies and options for planning and
implementing education systems that will provide real opportunities
for the poorest children to break the cycle of poverty. They
should also have identified the priorities for follow-up activities.
to the Workshop
will compile the conclusions of the meeting in a document
and make it available to Member States. Within the context
of Education for All, the Workshop is to be considered a step
in the long process of poverty eradication through education.
UNESCO will continue the dialogue on the key issues of education
and pay special attention to the monitoring of progress in
reaching the poorest groups.
will be invited to the Meeting?
Policy level representatives from fourteen countries from
different regions (depending on availability of funds);
- Representatives of agencies that have shown interest in
- Representatives of NGOs;
- Representatives of the private sector;
- Representatives of religious bodies;
- Representatives of International and Multilateral Agencies.
total 60-100 participants.
English and French
is considered an appropriate venue because it has completed
its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and is now in
the implementation phase.