Why education? Of all the causes to adopt, why should we particularly care about education? With escalating food prices and global hunger, environmental degradation, public health crises, and ethnic and regional conflict – among other issues – education may not always appear an urgent priority.
The Center for Global Development has an excellent overview of why investing in education is essential. In many ways, education can serve as an underlying mechanism to address many of the world’s most difficult problems. For example, education helps promote democracy and civic engagement by empowering individuals to protect and exercise their rights. Likewise, education is an essential component in preventing disease and promoting sanitation.
Some of the most striking statistics about the benefits of education from the CGDev Report are:
• In many poor countries, one additional year of schooling can raise wages by 10%, which contributes to growth in national income
• Greater female education leads to more productive farming and accounts for over 40% of the decline in malnutrition achieved since 1970
• Educated mothers are 50% more likely to immunize their children than mothers with no schooling
• No country has ever achieved continuous and rapid growth without reaching an adult literacy rate of at least 40%
Yet, education is denied to too many children in the world. To put everything in perspective, the U.S. invests spends about ~$6,800 a year per primary student on public education. In contrast, Iran spends $156 per student per year, India $64, Laos $30, and Rwanda $19. Professor Emily Hannum, one of our board members at the University of Pennsylvania, conducts research about education in rural Gansu, one of the poorest provinces in China. She estimates that on average, families spend about $28 on education per child annually. Even when we adjust for purchasing power parity, it’s hard to imagine how much that paltry sum could go to provide for a child’s future!
The CGDev report provides a map to showcase access to education throughout the world. Some of the statistics are rather stark. For example, more than 115 million children aged 6 to 12 are not in school in the developing world, of which three-fifths are girls. Another astounding fact is that only one in three children in Sub-Saharan Africa who attend primary school actually finish primary school.
For us at Givology, education is a cause very dear to our hearts. Many of us are students who have benefitted from the opportunities afforded to us through our education. Our parents, our community, and our government have done so much to help us achieve what we have accomplished today. For me personally, it seems so unfair that children throughout the world are denied the opportunities that we take as entitlements in our society. We can’t choose where we were born and to what family, but we certainly can make a difference with the means we have available to help others.
As we approach our one year anniversary since our launch last September, it’s sometimes good to take a step back and think about why we work so hard to keep Givology going –small education grants, big impact on the lives of children, their families, and greater society.
Joyce Meng's Blog
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