Teacher standing at blackboard in Timor-LesteFast Facts

  1. Around the world, approximately 121 million children are not attending school.[1]
  2. Children living in a rural environment are twice as likely to be out of school than urban children.[2]
  3. Over 250 million children worldwide are unable to read, write, or do basic mathematics, 130 million of whom are in school. [3]
  4. Although literacy rates are steadily increasing, there are still 758 million illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds of whom are women.[4]
  5. In a third of countries with data, less than 75% of teachers are trained according to national standards.[5]

Why is Education important?

‘Education is possibly the best tool we have for tackling poverty. Literacy is at the heart of education and is a basic human right that we all deserve. When people have the chance to learn basic life and literacy skills economies grow faster and poverty rates decline. Everyone needs the opportunity to receive a quality education.’ World Literacy Foundation April 2012

Education is more than learning to read and write; it is one of the most vital investments a nation can make in its people and their future.  As well as being a fundamental human right, it is a well-known fact that education is a powerful driver of development, allowing individuals to reach their full potential and contribute positively to society. According to UNESCO, education is one of the strongest instruments a country can have to help reduce poverty, improve health outcomes, and achieve gender equality, peace, and stability[6].

Education has the power to transforms lives. For example, if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, equal to a 12% cut in global poverty.[7] Children of educated mothers are more likely to be vaccinated and less likely to be stunted because of malnourishment[8], and if all mothers completed primary education, maternal deaths would be reduced by two-thirds, saving 189,000 lives.[9]

Ensuring children have access to education early in life is vital for their long-term development and ability to contribute to society. Studies in developing countries show that early childhood development programs lead to higher levels of primary school enrolment and educational performance, which in turn positively affect employment opportunities later in life. Despite this, nearly half the world’s children, particularly those from marginalised communities, are likely to miss out on education in their early years, often perpetuating a cycle of poverty.[10]

A good education for all is about more than just achieving high levels of school-enrolment rates – it is about ensuring that the quality of learning is high. For MMI, just being able to access education is not enough; through our programs, we want to ensure that all children receive quality education in safe, effective and inclusive learning environments, both at home and at school.

What MMI is doing to help improve education opportunities?

Tetum Literacy and Teacher Training Program – Timor-Leste

Community-based Early Education Program – Papua New Guinea

Mobile Learning Centre – Timor-Leste

Parents Training Program – Timor-Leste

School Peace Program – Peru

Inclusive Communities Program – Papua New Guinea

Community work  (Non-Development)


[1] ‘Global Report on out-of-school children’ (2015) UNESCO, Pg 15, accessed
[2]Facts and Figures: Rural Women and the Millennium Development Goals’ (2012) UN Women Watch, accessed
[3]‘Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for all’ (2014) UNESCO, p5, accessed
[4]‘Literacy Data Release 2016’ (06/07/16) UNESCO, accessed ’
[5]‘Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for all’ (2014) UNESCO, p5, accessed
[6]‘Education Overview’ (2016) World Bank, accessed
[7] ‘Education Counts: Towards the Millenium Development Goals’ (2011) UNESCO P8.
[8]‘Education Counts: Towards the Millenium Development Goals’ (2011) UNESCO P19
[9]‘Education Transforms lives’ (2013) UNESCO, P7 accessed
[10]‘Early Childhood Education and School Readiness’ (2012) UNICEF, accessed