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Education: A beacon for child survival and thriving communities

POSTED September 14, 2023

Education: A beacon for child survival and thriving communities

We delve into the compelling findings that underscore education’s pivotal role in securing a brighter future for children worldwide.

Mothers and children sitting down

Education, beyond its academic scope, is a beacon of hope for transforming the trajectory of societies. When we shine the spotlight on child survival, the role of education takes on even greater significance. Studies from around the world have illuminated the profound impact that education, particularly for girls and women, has on the survival and well-being of the youngest members of our global community.

A Shield Against Mortality: The Power of Maternal Education

Maternal education stands as a shield against childhood mortality. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5 than a child born to an illiterate woman1. This staggering statistic underscores the life-saving potential of education. When mothers are equipped with knowledge and understanding, they can make informed decisions that directly impact the health and survival of their children.

Vaccination Rates: A Testament to Maternal Knowledge

Vaccination is a cornerstone of child health. It’s heartening to note that education plays a pivotal role in ensuring that children receive the necessary vaccinations. In Indonesia, where maternal education levels vary widely, child vaccination rates are a mere 19% when mothers have no education. However, this figure skyrockets to 68% when mothers have at least a secondary school education2. This stark difference underscores how education empowers mothers to access crucial healthcare services, providing a safeguard against preventable diseases that threaten young lives.

A Key Weapon Against Child Malnutrition

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of more than a third of global child deaths. Educated mothers are better equipped to provide their children with the best nutrients needed to prevent or combat ill health. With access to information and knowledge about proper nutrition, they can make informed decisions about their children’s diets. Education empowers mothers with essential knowledge about health and hygiene practices. They are more likely to understand the importance of cleanliness, safe food preparation, and the prevention of diseases. These practices are critical in safeguarding their children’s health and well-being, preventing malnutrition-related illnesses.

One of the most devastating consequences of malnutrition is stunting, where children fail to reach their full physical and cognitive potential. In low-income countries, 47 million children suffer from stunted growth3. Educated mothers are more likely to understand the importance of early nutrition, reducing the risk of stunting in their children.

Empowering the Guardians: Educated Mothers and Infant Health

Education empowers mothers to become effective guardians of their children’s health. Beyond birth, an educated mother’s impact continues to resonate. Women with at least some formal education are more likely to marry later, have fewer children, and be better informed about the nutritional and other needs of children4. This informed decision-making process, rooted in education, contributes to improved infant health and well-being.

A Collective Responsibility for Child Survival

Education’s role in child survival is not just about individual impact; it’s about fostering thriving communities. When educated women are equipped with knowledge about reproductive health, child nutrition, and disease prevention, they become agents of change within their communities. This collective empowerment has a ripple effect, creating a generation of informed parents who prioritize the health and well-being of their children.

The numbers tell the story. Education is a potent tool for securing the survival and flourishing of our youngest members. The journey toward child survival is intrinsically tied to education – a journey that we must collectively embark upon to create a world where every child not only survives, but thrives.

You can keep girls in school and empower them to educate their own children, giving them a better chance at survival.


  1. Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Report, 2014. 
  2. Source: World Bank, “Investing in Indonesia’s Education: Allocation, Equity, and Efficiency of Public Expenditure,” 2005. 
  3. Source: International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), “Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries,” 2008. 
  4. Source: Behrman, Jere R., et al. “Returns to investment in education: A decennial review of the global literature.” Education Economics, 2016. 
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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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