“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai
There are many quotes about education. Many great people have talked about it at length. The more we dive into its importance, the more we understand that it is not something to be taken for granted. Education not only opens new horizons of information and technology for us but it also lays the foundations for our health and well-being.
While most of us enjoy these fruits of education, there are 258 million children out of school according to the data provided by UIS to UNESCO. Most of these children belong to the developing world. Mali, for example, has the highest out-of-school children (40.9 million) followed by Pakistan, which stands at 22.8 million.
All of these millions of children are deprived of their basic right to education and in the future, because of illiteracy, they will be of little importance to the development of the countries mentioned. Or in other words, they will not be able to contribute to their economical advancements.
But educating children is more than benefiting economically from their skills. Education does more for every member of society.
Education for health
For people to understand the fundamentals of leading a healthy life, education serves an important function. The health facilities in developing countries experience a great burden not only because of their population, most of which do not understand and follow the basic health protocols but also because of neglect on the part of their governments.
Education, therefore, is important to tackle both aspects of the problem. The masses need to be educated to make an informed decision when choosing their rulers and following basic health protocol.
There’s a viable link between education and health and the researchers Robert A. Han and Benedict I. Truman explain it well in their paper.
According to them, education provides the basic framework for acquiring skills, knowledge, ability, reasoning, emotional intelligence, and the ability to interact. All of these are important components of health, they argue. In addition to this, when societies in developing countries get an equal education regardless of their race, ethnicity, or religion, they see an emergence of health equity.
Health equity is when everyone in society has fair access to health facilities, that they can realize their full potential without any barriers posed by diseases or their treatment.
Considering this, it becomes clear that education in third world countries is a must. As good health ensures better education; good education can equip an individual with a better understanding of health. Then there’s also physical health associated with physical education.
Education for growth and development
The potential of the human mind is limitless. What we’ve been able to achieve in the health sector, agriculture, technology, and now, the artificial technology is commendable. Without years and years of trial and error of the pioneers of these fields, we wouldn’t have been here for sure.
Their collective efforts adorn our books where we read how Galileo Galilei championed heliocentrism; how he told everyone that we were revolving around the sun, not the other way around. Countless other scientists like him have made it possible for us to use their ideas, discoveries, and inventions for the betterment of the human race.
The modern education systems around the world, including the developing countries, make children aware of past discoveries and at the same time, they ignite a passion for search. Imagine the mental capacity of out-of-school children when they do not get an opportunity to read about all that. In adulthood, some of them marvel at the feats of science, but they cannot pursue it, ideally, while others go about their businesses, without realizing anything at all.
In both cases, however, they resort to unscientific explanations about their surroundings. Time and again, the world has seen how this can translate into radicalization, especially, of the youth.
Education for preventing violence
Extremism and violence are not contained by borders. The problem, however, deteriorates in nations with less education. The UNESCO stresses on using it as a “soft power” against extremism. It is assisting different countries by coming up with a comprehensive guide for the policy-makers.
According to it, education obviously cannot prevent anyone from committing a crime. Even the most educated persons in the world sometimes commit grave crimes. However, education can create an environment that can make the proliferation of extremism or extremist ideologies difficult. It can make a practical environment for the human mind to grow and think rationally and not resort to righteousness.
A better curriculum can counter the prevailing extremist opinions and ideologies in developing countries. It can create resistance among people against extremism and a greater commitment to adopt peaceful and non-violent approaches. It can create an enabling environment for moderate people who later become champions of their society.
For a developing nation, education and effective education policies can root out this very possible hurdle to development, free speech, and other indicators of society so that it can thrive to its full potential.
Education for girls or Girls education
In developing nations with a greater number of out-of-school children, the picture of girls education is grim. In fact, most of them are girls. A lack of education equality in those nations has led to unimpressive economical and social indicators. Although the governments are inducting more and more girls into schools, there’s still a prevailing resentment in their societies.
Ill-perceived religious teachings; heightened extremist ideologies, and patriarchy are only some of the reasons that can be quoted. Education can combat the evils of all these, given the fact that it enlightens the men and empowers the women. It provides well-informed mothers so that the children of a nation are not underfed. It enables them to join the productive workforce so that their countries can prosper more than ever.
Girls play a role in the welfare of their families
Accordion to a study, girls’ income increase by 20% in their lifetime than boys’. Toronto Star further writes that women are more likely to spend as much as 90% of their income on their household than men. Citing these sources, it is understandable that educating girls can potentially reduce or even eliminate poverty from society as more and more women continue to work for the welfare of their households.
An educated girl means a healthy family
Girls’ education reduces fertility rates. That means educated girls are less likely to bear children every year, as it is a norm in some of the developing countries under question, because of family planning. Moreover, they can prevent their families from getting diseases like HIV/AIDS and improve the overall health of their families – courtesy of learning about safe sex, hygiene, and disease prevention.
Reduction of the gender gap
The gender gap is a problem worldwide. However, it affects the developing world in many more ways. Disparities in payments, unequal distribution of resources, and less appreciation for more work are some of the evils that arise. As a result, women become more suppressed and they live burdened lives.
Education can aid in reducing gender gaps, as noted by the Borgen Project. When women get more education, they become eligible for equal pay. As cited by the source, women in Pakistan educated to a primary level at first made 51% of the male income. Upon acquiring a secondary level of education, they made 70% of the male income. This increase in payment and reduction in the gender gap in workplaces around the country is attributed to education.
What to do?
As you read, the importance of education for developing nations holds a new meaning than for the developed world. Since the former is still undergoing a major change in many social indicators, it is imperative to not only help them in acquiring good education but also in forming practical and friendly policies.
As a result, people will be better equipped to take their countries to new heights of technological and economical advancements. They will form moderate opinions and will embrace peace above all in an enabling environment. Their health conditions will improve as they will follow hygienic practices. And most importantly, the women will arise as truly the better half of society who not only spend well on their families but also know well how to protect them from diseases.
It’s not that the number of children going to school hasn’t increased. Some improvements have been made, but they are slow. There’s always a growing fear that children will drop out of school before they could complete their primary education because of unprecedented events like the current pandemic. A report from the World Bank suggests that the Ebola outbreak caused many teenage pregnancies in West Africa, which ultimately led to a drastic dropout from schools. This could happen again due to COVID-19, maybe not in Africa, but in other developing regions.
COVID-19 is already taking its toll on the mental and physical health of children. Not getting a good education would further deteriorate their condition.
We can prevent that, however. We can help. We can change their condition for the betterment of their societies and ultimately, their countries. It is not the time to only think but act. Give one child, one teacher, a book, and a pen, and see the world transform.