Living in the west, we may believe that education is a natural right granted to all individuals. Rather than valuing the privilege we have of attending school from an early age, we believe that is what is expected and some may even believe it is a chore. Unfortunately, many are not aware of how, in many countries, access to education is quite limited.
Although this may seem obvious, children from the richest 20% of the world’s population are four times more likely to attend school than children from the poorest 20%1. Children from impoverished families and nations commonly do not have the means to pursue an education. In many of these countries, education is not fully subsidized by the government, meaning tuition, textbook fees and uniforms are often paid for partly or completely by parents of the children. Parents, whom may be already struggling to feed their children, often cannot afford these fees resulting in the child being deprived of education. Aside from financial status, many children simply cannot get access to education due to the region they live in. Children in rural areas or war torn countries are also substantially less likely to attend school than those who are not.
The issue is that not only is education not accessible for children, it is often undervalued. In 2012, 31 million children dropped out of primary education around the world2. In 2010, 61 million children of the age for primary education were not enrolled in school. Of this 61 million, 47% were expected to never attend school, 26% attended school and left, and only 27% were expected to attend school in the future3. The alarming fact of this statistic is not just that so many children are not in school, it is that the majority of children not in school are expected never to attend.
Of course, it is common that in developing and impoverished nations parents simply cannot afford for their children to attend schooling. Many parents also require the aid of their children in achieving an income, resulting in the child being withdrawn from school. But, it is also true that some societies undervalue education and prioritize short term income and labour over pursuing education. Many do not realize that in the long term, children pursuing education can bring their families out of poverty. It has been found that in developing, low-income nations, every additional year of education can increase an individual’s annual expected income by 10%4.
In order to protect the future of the next generation it is essential that we educate all children. Governments and societies must work together to not only make education accessible, but also encouraged. Educating children not only provides them with the means to pursue a financial secure future, but also strengthens and better equips them for dealing with poor circumstances. This is especially true for women. Women who are educated can provide for themselves and support their families if need be. In the case that a women’s husband passes away (as seen in many of the war torn countries of the Middle East), an educated women may be more capable of taking care of herself and her children. These are only a few of the benefits that would arise from educating our children. There are countless others, the most important of them being that we can ensure the security of future generations.
- The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. “The Learning Generation”. Page 43.
- United Nations Educational Scientific And Cultural Organization. (2012) “Opportunities lost: The impact of grade repetition and early school leaving.” UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).
- United Nations Educational Scientific And Cultural Organization. (2012) “Reaching out-of-school Children is Crucial for Development.” UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).
- Center for Global Development. (2002) “Education and The Developing World.” CGDEV.Org.