Education can combat the underlying structures of poverty

Adam Prakash Abdullah

KUCHING: Sarawak Teachers Union (STU) welcomes the recent remark by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on empowering children of the less privileged through education to eradicate poverty.

“Acquired basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy, have a documented positive effect on marginalised populations’ incomes and it increases the rate of return on the economy,” said STU president Adam Prakash in a statement today (Jan 10).

He pointed out that a published paper by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) shows that education is critical to escape chronic poverty and to prevent the transmission of poverty between generations.

“The rate of return is higher in low-income countries than in high income countries.

“Education also enables those in paid formal employment to earn higher wages: One year of education is associated with a 10 percent increase in wages.

“It is therefore important to invest in education that provides children and youth with relevant theoretical and practical skills,” he added.

STU also believed that when it comes to education, success is impossible without the government’s cooperation.

The federal and state governments, he said, must understand the benefits of a well-educated populace and commit to making improvements to systems already in place.

“This is an understandably daunting task. STU applauds the effort taken by the state government and Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research (MESTR) in improving schools’ physical condition as well as improving facilities in the schools in Sarawak.

“We believe that instead of building new infrastructure, governments can also leverage the cost-savings that comes with identifying policies needed to support and improve existing schools,” he said.

STU was also grateful that the chief minister believes education can create hope, empowered individuals, who will go on to empower and change their communities, innovate, and impact the country.

“In order to tackle the ambitious sustainable development goals in the country, the community needs enterprising minds at work, across every sector.

“With widespread cooperation to ensure that quality education is accessible to all, the number of underprivileged people can be lessened, and the poverty cycle broken in the state and country as a whole,” he concluded.