A. Education, population and sustainable development

Basis for action

11.1. In the past 20 years, the world has experienced a rise in educational levels. Although the differences in educational attainment between males and females have shrunk, 75 per cent of illiterate persons in the world are women. Lack of basic education and low levels of literacy of adults continue to inhibit the development process in every area. The world community has a special responsibility to ensure that all children receive an education of improved quality and that they complete primary school. Education is an indispensable tool for the improvement of the quality of life. However, it is more difficult to meet educational needs when there is rapid population growth.

11.2. Education is a key factor in sustainable development: it is at the same time a component of well-being and a factor in the development of well-being through its links with demographic as well as economic and social factors. Education is also a means to enable the individual to gain access to knowledge, which is a precondition for coping, by anyone wishing to do so, with today's complex world. The reduction of fertility, morbidity and mortality rates, the empowerment of women, the improvement in the quality of the working population and the promotion of genuine democracy are largely assisted by progress in education. The integration of migrants is also facilitated by universal access to education, which respects the religious and cultural backgrounds of migrants.

11.3. The relationship between education and demographic and social changes is one of interdependence. There is a close and complex relationship among education, marriage age, fertility, mortality, mobility and activity. The increase in the education of women and girls contributes to greater empowerment of women, to a postponement of the age of marriage and to a reduction in the size of families. When mothers are better educated, their children's survival rate tends to increase. Broader access to education is also a factor in internal migration and the make-up of the working population.

11.4. The education and training of young people should prepare them (to cope with today's complex world), for their career development and professional life. It is on the content of the educational curricula and the nature of the training received that the prospects of gainful employment opportunities depend. Inadequacies in and discrepancies between the educational system and the production system can lead to unemployment and underemployment, a devaluing of qualifications and, in some cases, an exodus of qualified people from rural to urban areas and to "brain drain". It is therefore essential to promote a harmonious development of educational systems and economic and social systems conducive to sustainable development.

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