By Emma Hackett, Staff Writer
Americans are uniquely tuned-in to the issue of education. The choice of which college to attend, for many, is one of the biggest decisions they feel they’ll ever have to face, and the issues of college vs. trade school, student debt, and whether to pursue higher education at all are all questions which young Americans face regularly. But these issues only pertain to higher education - we take it for granted that our children receive at least a basic elementary education. This is even enshrined in the laws of our land. What we don’t realize is that in the global community, this is not always the case.
Resolving a Global Issue
A recent study by UNESCO reveals that 1 in 4 youths living in developing countries cannot even read a basic sentence, and says that the poor quality of education available in these parts of the world has left a “legacy of illiteracy” which is more profound than previously imagined. In the sub-Saharan, 11.07 million children have not completed their primary education. In Souh and West Asia, it's 13.54 million. In developing, low-income countries, however, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%.
We all know how vitally important it is to provide aid to the developing world so that they can fulfill their basic needs, and there are a plethora of opportunities to help feed, clothe, and house people in need which are all wonderful, and should be taken full advantage of. However, of almost equal importance is ensuring that these countries are able to have access to a higher quality of education, for both their personal futures and the futures of their countries. This is because the straightforward truth is that any long-term progress is impossible without education. Stated simply - can you imagine how much progress you’d be able to make if you couldn’t read? Those in the developing world deserve as much of an opportunity to access education as we in the United States do, and it’s up to us to help them in whatever way possible.
Gabriel Zinny, an entrepreneur and education expert, and author of Educación 3.0, advocates a change in the way we approach education in the developing world. He says that the economic and technological changes which have taken place with such rapidity over the past ten years are not being matched by any evolution in educational standards, which he feels are still based on outdated 19th century paradigms. He argues that this is true especially in developing countries, whose educational systems are not conducive to learning actual, practical knowledge, and which therefore stunt the growth of their students who are then categorically labelled as “NEETS” - “not in education, employment, or training." These people may emigrate to the United States to seek employment, but more often they stay in their native countries and join gangs or engage in other criminal activities, ultimately losing creativity, productivity, and drive. This is a tragedy, which can be avoided by a proactive attitude towards the issue of global education.
How to Help
One of the most fantastic resources available is an app called Elbi, founded by model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova. Not only is it invaluable for connecting people internationally, but it is also a powerful tool for global education. Here’s an example: Draw a picture of ten cats, and upload it using the Elbi app. Your picture will then go to a school in an underdeveloped area, and it will be used to teach the children there how to count to ten. It’s that simple. Plus, you’ll be able to see the impact that you’re making on a personal level, and it’s a great way to use technological advancements to help the cause of global education.
There are also several philanthropic organizations which take donations of time, talent, and treasure to aid in their efforts to help the developing world, including the Global Education Fund, Village by Village, Naked Heart Foundation, World Education, and Save the Children.
Education is a vital human right. Education is essential to learning your place in the global community, appreciating your own culture and history, and bettering your situation, for yourself and future generations. Education increases a person’s understanding, and increases their ability to live a fulfilling socio-economic life and to assist in the overall development of their nation.
It’s time that we do our utmost to promote global education as a vital component to achieving economic stability and ultimate success around the world.