Sister Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN, is currently spending two months at the United Nations as an intern with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur UN NGO Office in New York. Here is her reflection on the power of education in achieving United Nations goals:
My uncle who was a teacher for many, many years used to tell us that the surest way to break the cycle of poverty in any family or society was through education. Education, he maintained, “is the most powerful antidote to poverty.” I didn’t quite understand what my uncle meant then and only thought he was trying to convince us to take up the teaching profession like him, (which my sister and I hated). Years later, I have come to appreciate my old uncle’s wisdom because I do believe that education is the surest way out of poverty, as various life experiences have shown me.
As 2015 draws close, the current buzz phrase among members of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and many of its affiliate NGOs is the “Post-2015 Development Agenda.” While some countries have made significant achievements in realizing some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, others have not. Some of the countries have been less successful in achieving the MDGs due to the lack of financial resources, social capital and infrastructure, as a result of internal political instability, or due to negligence on behalf of the political leadership. Hence, the challenge for the international community is to assist those countries that are not able to realize the MDGs to do so before or beyond 2015. www.un.org/en/ecosoc/about/mdg.shtml
Taking a cue from my uncle and others, I will suggest that the simple, most effective answer to eradicating poverty, diseases and achieving just, secure and sustainable development, including the MDGs, is through education. Educate the population and watch them flourish. This sentiment was expressed by the brave 16 year old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for advocating for girls’ education in her country. Malala Yousafzai in her speech at the United Nations said, “One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution.” https://secure.aworldatschool.org/page/content/the-text-of-malala-yousafzais-speech-at-the-united-nations
For this reason, governments, NGOs, civil societies, and other organizations must continue to pay particular attention to educating our young people for a better tomorrow. Equal opportunities for education must also be given to both girls and boys in every country. The greatest resource any country has is its young people; governments must therefore, invest in their youth for a more just, secure, and sustainable future by empowering and equipping them through primary, secondary, and tertiary education.