by Gabe Ahmed*
An old Tibetan proverb reads: “A child without education, is like a bird without wings”. Society as a whole can gain so much from giving merit to this statement. It is basically saying that if a child is prevented from receiving a quality education, they are being put at a great disadvantage. By not educating our children (our future), we are doing them, and ourselves a great disservice.
It is clear the progress and development of a nation is related to the education of its future generations. Speaking strictly from a “profit perspective” or that of which our only focus is making money, it is safe to say that “education pays”. This is exemplified below: (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
As we can see, the median weekly earnings multiply as we work our way up the educational ladder. It is also interesting that the unemployment rate also goes down significantly as we work our way up toward higher education levels. It also just makes more sense to have an educated society as opposed to an uneducated one. This is the type of society that works towards innovation and advancement for humankind as a whole.
It is easy to say that more, better quality education will lead to growth and development. Global-wide quality education could also lead to a society filled with more brighter individuals that work together to think about and eliminate the world’s main issues, such as hunger and poverty, thus achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, it is not easy to solve the issue of educational equity we are facing today. According to the National Equity Project, “educational equity means that each child receives what he or she needs to develop to his or her full academic and social potential.” According to this Project, equal education means
“Ensuring equally high outcomes for all participants in our educational system; removing the predictability of success or failures that currently correlates with any social or cultural factor”
The main takeaway from this is that we must remove the correlation between success and social status. Statistics show that sons of wealthy fathers will generally be more wealthier than sons of poorer fathers. Equal education can prevent this from happening. Equal education will allow every individual, on a global scale, to tap into their minds potential.
Everyone should be able to do this already, but the real facts are astonishingly sad. According to the borgenproject.org, over 1/5 of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are out of school. 1/3 of children between the ages of 12 and 14 are out of school. Lastly, almost 60 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of 15 and 17 are not in school. This is 60% of this country’s inhabitants that are being prevented from accessing higher level thinking. The gender disparity for accessing education is also extremely high. Nine million girls between the ages of about 6 and 11 in Africa will never go to school at all, compared to six million boys.
What if one of these individuals being held back from education has the solution to world hunger? What if one of these individuals has ideas on how to end poverty? We will never know, because they are not even able to access secondary education.
One way we can help is to try to facilitate the spread of quality education from classrooms in the US to developing countries. What this entails is some group or organization providing basic classrooms with video conference technology to developing areas. Then, the cooperation of public educational institutions across the US is necessary. What they can do is “share” their recorded lessons with students across the world. Of course, there are some limits to this: language/time zone barriers, cost of erecting new schools, cost of technological equipment. But, if we truly focused our efforts and vast resources on an issue this important, it would surely be achievable.
*This blog is part of a student-led blog series on education for sustainable development.