Extreme poverty, affecting more than one billion people worldwide, is one of the greatest global challenges. In purely economic terms, people living in extreme poverty must manage on less than 1 US dollar a day. But poverty means more than just low income.
Poverty means not having a voice and hence having no influence on important decisions which have an impact on the lives of the poor.
Poverty means hunger: each day 25,000 people, most of them children, die as a result of hunger and malnutrition.
Poverty means suffering from disease: since the outbreak of HIV/ AIDS, 58 million people throughout the world have been infected.
Poverty means lack of educational opportunities: 113 million children of school age are not able to attend school. The number of adult illiterates is estimated to be 860 million worldwide.
At the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in November 2000, the international community dedicated itself to the aim of fighting extreme poverty. The United Nations Millennium Declaration summarizes the goals of the world conferences and action plans of the 1990s, and translates them into eight international development goals. It directs our actions towards the most urgent development challenges of the 21st century. One of the major aims in this context is better education. I welcome this, as education enables people to improve their social, cultural and economic situation:
Knowledge is the prerequisite for self-determination and self-realization. Being able to read and write allows people to assert their individual rights and participate in society.
Well-trained skilled workers increase productivity and improve the quality of work.
Health education improves hygiene and nutrition and thus also helps to improve the quality of life and life expectancy.
Environmental knowledge is the basis for more sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of our environment.
Good education gives the chance for a fulfilled professional career.
These few examples show that education is a prerequisite for development. Where not even basic education can be sufficiently assured, development programs in all sectors quickly come up against their limits. In response to the Millennium Declaration, the German Government established its Programme of Action 2015, adopted by the German Cabinet in 2001. In this programme, 10 priority areas for action by the German Government are specified, which together constitute our contribution towards the worldwide fight against poverty. One of these priority areas is the provision of basic social services, including education. We take into account the fact that non-formal education and adult education are, in many developing countries, often the only chance for poor people in particular to access basic education and lifelong learning opportunities. In our present bilateral portfolio, support for non-formal and adult education makes up almost one third of our overall support for basic education.
In this light, it is my pleasure to note that the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (IIZ/DVV), an organization supported by our Ministry, is one of the co-funders and co-organizers of this conference, together with the World Bank and the Department of Adult Education of the University of Botswana. I wish to thank all of them for making this important conference possible.
In my capacity as the German Chancellor’s G8 Personal Representative for Africa, I would also like to express my appreciation for the fact that this conference is taking place in Africa. We are aware of the burden of poverty weighing on this continent. But I am also sure that the host of this conference, the Government of Botswana, the University of Botswana, and also the representatives from other parts of this region, will convince us that this continent is on its way forward. We will all learn from best practices. I do hope that over the next few days all participants of this conference will enjoy fruitful discussions and arrive at findings that will help us to formulate concrete recommendations for the effective provision of non-formal and adult education as a contribution to poverty reduction.
1 Uschi Eid, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, which co-funded the Conference, was unfortunately unable to be present at the event. Heribert Hinzen, Director of the IIZ/DVV, read her speech of welcome.
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