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Poverty Eradication Day: Education for a Better Future

By Emily Riemer

Though few need a day to remind them that people around the world live in extreme poverty–in fact, more than half the world lives on less than $2 a day–today is the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, to raise awareness of and support for the issues that cause and result from chronic poverty.

"Rampant poverty, which has festered for far too long, is linked to social unrest and threats to peace and security. On this International Day, let us make an investment in our common future by helping to lift people out of poverty so that they, in turn, can help to transform our world." -UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

School proprietor Mercy Senyegah in a classroom at Richmercy School, Ghana.Nothing is more important to ensuring a stable world than to empower people at the bottom of the pyramid to work their way out of poverty. To do that, you must start with the most basic but essential building block–education. This is more than common sense, there are facts, including these from USAID, to back it up. A few of the most alarming:

For every year of school completed, individual earnings increase by 10%.

A girl who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV/AIDS.

A child born to an educated mother is twice as likely to survive to age five.

Education impacts more than just earnings, it creates better health, wider economic growth and alleviates poverty. (

Students learning at Richmercy.Meet one woman working to make this goal of providing an education–and a better future for all children–a reality. She is Mercy Senyegah, the proprietor of the Richmercy School in Ashaiman, Ghana. In Ghana, though public education is free, the quality of the education at government-funded schools is often poor. So Mercy was determined to bring the opportunity of education to local Ashaiman families with few other options. When she first started her school, she had four classes of students that all had to share one classroom, and one in the school kitchen. She says that in the beginning, she didn’t know how to save and she felt she needed guidance. Today, she serves 250 students at her school, and has nine classrooms, six teachers, and five other staff. She used Opportunity loans to add classrooms, cement the floors, hire more teachers and serve lunch to children whose families can’t provide them with food. With future loans, and the guidance and advice of her loan officer Gabriel Addai Duah, Mercy one day wants to build a library, a computer lab and a lavatory at Richmercy.

Mercy and students in the schoolyard.Given the chance to learn, even children living in deeply debilitating poverty can transform their lives. Parents understand that and so do proprietors like Mercy.

In Ghana, Uganda and Malawi, 332 school proprietors are currently using $3 million in Opportunity loans and customized business training to improve their schools. (In Ghana, these loans are made possible in part by our partnership with the IDP Rising Schools Program.) In addition, over 2,600 families in three African countries and India have accessed school fee loans that help parents with unpredictable incomes cover tuition. Our education finance tools make it possible to reach more girls and boys, giving them a chance at a better future. Because of better education, and their ability to complete more years of school, they are almost guaranteed to have choices in life that their parents never had.

If you’d like to support this work, now is the time. Through several generous supporters, we’re offering a match on all gifts to our education program up to $75,000. So you can double your impact, sending more girls and boys to school, creating a more stable future for developing countries and the world. Learn more at »

Banking on Education:

Banking on Education from Opportunity International on Vimeo.

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