International Day of Education

Education is vital in breaking the cycle of poverty and creating a more equitable and peaceful world. 

Back to all stories | Posted on 24 January 24 in NewsBlogChildren's stories

Today is International Day of Education and the theme this year of ‘Learning for Lasting Peace’ celebrates the role of education for peace and sustainable development. With 2 billion people – one quarter of humanity – living in areas of conflict this theme is particularly relevant. 

When the UN created their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development it was recognized that education is essential for the success of all 17 of the goals. Education offers children a ladder out of poverty and a path to a promising future.

Mary’s Meals is a simple, low-cost and scalable solution towards ending child hunger and promotes access to education. For 22 years, our program teams (affiliates and partners) have worked alongside communities providing a nutritious meal in a place of education because we know that for many of the children we serve, hunger can often be a barrier to learning. 

We have anecdotal evidence that shows that if it were not for Mary’s Meals some schools would never exist. Food insecurity affects concentration, memory, mood, and motor skills, all of which a child needs to be successful in school. 

According to UN data:

  • 244 million children and adolescents around the world are out of school; 
  • 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; 
  • <40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school
  • 4 million children and youth refugees are out of school. 

Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind. 

Reducing Hunger 

Hunger can hinder a child’s ability to concentrate, learn, and participate actively in the classroom. Our first priority is to ensure that children are not hungry at school and our school feeding programmes aim to support a school environment where students are nourished and ready to engage fully in the learning process, fostering better educational outcomes.   

Open quote mark Mary’s Meals’ school feeding program is helping me and my family to make savings or cut back on expenses made on daily food. I am now able to spend money saved on household feeding cost to take care of school fees, health and other basic needs of my children and my home. Close quote mark
Mother, Liberia

These extended benefits at a household level reinforce and highlight the transformative power of a meal for a child in their place of education.