Education and Peace, antidotes to poverty

Poverty surpasses a state of having little or no money and material possessions. It manifests in various forms such as hunger, poor health, limited access to education, discrimination, to mention a few and these effects of poverty can lead to lifelong struggles. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere, is indeed one that should be achieved without leaving anyone out.

The UN reports that about one in five persons in developing regions live below poverty line and the first target of the SDG 1 seeks to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030. On the scale of the Human Development Index (HDI) Report of 2015, Nigeria ranks 152nd out of 188 countries. The United Nations Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (UNGMPI) published in June 2015, gives an estimated percentage of poverty rate in the 36 states in Nigeria. An analysis of this report reveals that poverty in Nigeria correlates with level of education and the stability of each State. Therefore, we want to consider the role of low literacy/ education and high level of insurgency in poverty outlook in Nigeria.

According to UNICEF, Northern Nigeria records the lowest school attendance rate, particularly for girls. Education is directly related to the ability to earn enough to stay out of poverty, the higher the individual’s education, the more job benefits that become available. UNICEF supports efforts to increase equitable access to quality basic education and to improve learning achievements, special emphasis is given to girls’ education. According to the UNGMPI, Northern states in Nigeria record high rates of poverty with Zamfara 91.9%, Adamawa 59%, Borno 70.1%, etc. Whereas, the Southern states record relatively low rates with Lagos 8.5%, Ekiti 12.9%, Osun 10.9% etc. We hence can see a relationship between low literacy rate and poverty as seen in the North compared to the South. Education in all forms is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and it generally has an uplifting effect on other aspects of society.

The high poverty rate in the North-Eastern states in Nigeria can also be linked to insurgency in the area. The UNGMPI shows that the North-Eastern states are among the 15 states with the highest poverty rate. Borno 70.1%, Bauchi 86.6%, Adamawa 59.0%, Gombe 76.9%, Taraba 77.7%. Insurgency in North-East Nigeria has affected basic education negatively, it has also resulted in the internal displacement of persons. The Boko Haram activities which started in 2009 have left many homeless and displaced and these persons have been placed into Internally Displaced Persons camps in the North-East Nigeria. Life in these camps is not conducive as normal life remained a luxury the displaced persons could not afford. This situation has great impact on the poverty level.

The 17 SDGs are interlinked, right from Goal one to the seventeenth goal. ‘No Poverty’ for instance is interlinked to ‘Zero hunger’, ‘Quality education’ which is Goal 4 as well as Goal 16 which is ‘Peace Justice and Strong Institution’. The insurgency in the North-East has provided a good case studies to development experts and researchers and they have established a nexus between Poverty, education and peace. It needs no rocket science to see that where poverty is predominant, there cannot be peace. Similarly, A people that lack education would struggle in the area of economic development and more likely to get stuck in the poverty rut for a long time. To properly address poverty, everyone should take education seriously just as peace should be paramount in the mind of all. No doubt, Education and a peaceful atmosphere are antidotes to Poverty.

A lot of interventions have been carried out by the Nigerian government, the United Nations and its specialized agencies as well as Non-Governmental Organisations, but a lot still need to be done. It is of extreme importance for everyone, both young and old, private and public, individually and collectively, to be involved in the SDG 1 in order to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. You have a role. I have a role. We all have a role play in ending poverty everywhere.

Source: United Nations Information Centre in Lagos