Chapter XI: Population, development and education - 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 aspecial 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 isalso a fact or in internal migration and the composition
of the working population.
11.4. The education and training of young people should prepare them for career
development and professional life in order to cope with today's complex world.
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,the exodus of qualified people from rural to urban areas and to"brain
drain". It is therefore essential to promote harmonious development of educational
systems and economic and social systems conducive to sustainable development.
11.5. The objectives are:
- To achieve universal access to quality education, with particular priority
being given to primary and technical education and job training, to combat illiteracy
and to eliminate gender disparities in access to, retention in, and support for,
- To promote non-formal education for young people, guaranteeing equal access
for women and men to literacy centres;
- To introduce and improve the content of the curriculum so as to promote
greater responsibility and awareness on the interrelationships between population
and sustainable development; health issues, including reproductive health; and
11.6. The eradication of illiteracy is one of the prerequisites for human development.
All countries should consolidate the progress made in the 1990s towards providing
universal access to primary education, as agreed upon at the World Conference
on Education for All, held at Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990. All countries should
further strive to ensure the complete access to primary school or an equivalent
level of education by both girls and boys as quickly as possible, and in any
case before the year 2015. Attention should also be given to the quality and
type of education, including recognition of traditional values. Countries that
have achieved the goal of universal primary education are urged to extend education
and training to, and facilitate access to and completion of education at secondary
school and higher levels.
11.7. Investments in education and job training should be given high priority
in development budgets at all levels, and should take into account the range
and level of future workforce skill requirements.
11.8. Countries should take affirmative steps to keep girls and adolescents
in school by building more community schools, by training teachers to be more
gender sensitive, by providing scholarships and other appropriate incentives
and by sensitizing parents to the value of educating girls, with a view to closing
thegender gap in primary and secondary school education by the year 2005. Countries
should also supplement those efforts by making full use of non-formal education
opportunities. Pregnant adolescents should be enabled to continue their schooling.
11.9. To be most effective, education about population issues must begin in
primary school and continue through all levels of formal and non-formal education,
taking into account the rights and responsibilities of parents and the needs
of children and adolescents. Where such programmes already exist, curricula should be
reviewed, updated and broadened with a view to ensuring adequate coverage of
such important concerns as gender sensitivity, reproductive choices and responsibilities,
and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. To ensure acceptance of
population education programmes by the community, population education projects
should emphasize consultation with parents and community leaders.
11.10. Efforts in the training of population specialists at the university
level should be strengthened and the incorporation of content relating to demographic
variables and their interrelationships with development planning in the social
and economic disciplines, as well as to health and the environment, should be