Education and health inequalities

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Education and health should be a human right, yet it cannot be taken for granted. Around a quarter of a billion children do not complete education. Even where children are in school, many do not achieve minimum proficiency levels. Basic medical services are absent in many parts of the world. 

Access to quality public services is a key determinant of opportunity. It gives people a better chance to get a decent job, to escape poverty, to support their families, and to develop their communities. 

Education is one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability. Places with few or no schools are more likely to have child labour and human trafficking. They are also the hardest to reach, as they are in countries held back by conflict, disaster, and epidemics. Quality education ensuring that children acquire an appropriate level of knowledge and skills is one of the most important factors to promote economic and social development. Likewise with health, while between 7 and 9 million children will die this year, 70% from preventable causes, roughly 28 000 every day, more than 50% will die in urban areas.

Europe puts a particular focus on inclusive and equitable educational and health services, including mental health, lifelong learning and ‘21st century skills’ like critical thinking and digital literacy. Can its experience help?

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