Building Stability and Security

We cannot stop terrorism or defeat the ideologies of violent extremism when hundreds of millions of young people see a future with no jobs, no hope, and no way to catch up to the developed world.

– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

By 2050, there will be 1.2 billion youth around the world – with nine out of ten in developing countries. This means that most young people are coming of age in societies that lack basic education and employment opportunities.

Improving the educational outcomes of the world’s most vulnerable children is a matter of both national and global security.

At an individual level, education is a key factor of whether people have the capabilities – the literacy, the confidence, and the attitudes – they need to actively participate in society. And, as many countries work to rebuild after years of conflict, education is a key component in any development strategy.

Globally, education is a critical component to building long-term stability and security. Education not only helps to build tolerance and understanding but provides a path to a better life. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Commission on Smart Power observed, “Education is the best hope of turning young people away from violence and extremism.”

Key Facts

  1. This generation of youth is the largest in history, with over 1 billion youth aged 15 to 24 living in developing countries. This means that most young people are coming of age in societies that lack basic education and employment opportunities.
  2. Large, young male population bulges are more likely to increase the risk of conflict in societies where there are low rates of secondary education.
  3. Each year of education reduces the risk of conflict by around 20 percent, roughly the same stabilizing effect as a 5 percent annual economic growth rate.
  4. The 9/11 Commission report found that “Education that teaches tolerance, the dignity and value of each individual, and respect for different beliefs is a key element in any global strategy to eliminate Islamist terrorism.
  5. Education indirectly promotes civic engagement, greater social cohesion, social stability and good governance, and is a crucial determinant of whether people have the capabilities they need to actively participate in society.
  6. People of voting age with a primary education are 1.5 times more likely to support democracy than people with no education, rising to three times more likely for someone with a secondary education.

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