31.10.2011 - Education Sector

The role of education in a world of 7 billion people

© UNESCO/Justin Mott - Pupil of a primary school, Viet Nam

The impact of education on demography is widely known and acknowledged. Education for women and girls, in particular, translates into lifetime benefits including higher incomes and lower child and maternal mortality.

Not only do they know more about contraception, they are also determined to find a job, strive for independence and with more diversified centres of interest, are more acutely aware of the conflict between bringing up children and having time to themselves. Equally, women who have been educated will want the same for their children, and prefer to have fewer children so as to guarantee them a better education.

But education is in turn affected by population dynamics, which is now considered a key variable in education planning. Population growth, for instance, can influence the demand for and supply of education in such a way as to help or, on the contrary, hinder efforts to achieve education objectives. Population growth has an influence on the number of children to be accommodated in school each year. That number is all the greater when fertility is high, and can make the development of education much more difficult in situations marked by budgetary and resource constraints.  

In a world of 7 billion people...

In a world of 7 billion people, UNESCO believes that everyone has the right to education. That’s why it promotes a holistic view of lifelong learning that includes early childhood, primary, secondary, and higher education, work skills for youth and adults and literacy - a fundamental right and the foundation for lifelong learning and  education for women and girls

UNESCO considers education to be the best insurance against poverty. It stresses the importance of education for sustainable human development and supports countries to improve access and quality and to redress inequalities in their education systems.   

UNESCO champions the efforts of 75 million teachers to provide quality education, and advocates for the training and recruitment of an additional 2 million teachers to achieve Education for All by 2015.  

UNESCO believes that education remains the best vaccine against HIV. As the lead agency in EDUCAIDS, the Organizaton supports education programmes on HIV to provide accurate and reliable information about how people can prevent HIV, about treatment, and caring for people living with HIV.

Related Links

Letter to the 7th billion human being

Gender equality in education

UNESCO's GMR

UN population division




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