Under-five mortality rate would have been lowered by 61 and 43 per cent in India and Nigeria, if women are educated to secondary level.
Nigeria and India account for more than one third of child deaths worldwide, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, said on Tuesday.
The UNESCO Communications Specialist, Education for All Global Monitoring, Kate Redman, made the disclosure in a statement issued to journalists in Abuja.
She said if all women in both countries complete secondary education, the under-five mortality rate would have been lowered by 61 and 43 per cent in India and Nigeria, respectively.
This, according to the statement, would have saved more than 1.35 million children.
Quoting from the highlights of UNESCO’s next Education for All Global Monitoring Report, the statement said education has unrivalled power to reduce extreme poverty and boost wider development goals.
The highlights provided fresh proof that investing in education, especially for girls, alleviates extreme poverty through securing substantial benefits for health and productivity, and also democratic participation and women’s empowerment.
“To unlock education transformative power, however, new development goals must go further to ensure that all children benefit equally not only from primary education, but also from good quality secondary schooling.
“If all young women completed primary education, the number of child brides would be reduced by almost half a million and completing secondary education would reduce that number by two million.0
“If all children enjoyed equal access to education, per capital income would increase by 23 per cent over 40 years.
“Therefore, child marriages and child mortality could fall by a sixth and maternal death by two-thirds’’, the statement quotes Ms. Redman as saying.
Ms. Redman also said that if women were equipped with basic primary education, maternal deaths would be cut by two-thirds, thereby saving more than 189,000 women lives each year.
She said the huge benefits of quality education are sometimes invisible to donors and policy-makers; therefore education often slips off the global agenda.
According to UNECO, if all children, regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances, have equal access to education, productivity gains would boost economic growth.
Education could cause the change that would save more than 12 million children from being stunted – a sign of early childhood malnutrition, the statement said.