SEATTLE — Most people agree that education is one of the crucial components that allow people to better themselves. A person misses out on many important opportunities if they are deprived of a complete education. However, the actual benefits of education are often glossed over or not discussed. These are the top 10 benefits of education.
- Poverty reduction
Many children living in extreme poverty do not have access to basic education, and lack of education is considered the root cause of poverty. For example, 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if all children left school with basic reading skills. That translates to a 12 percent drop in the world total. Additionally, learning improvements outlined by the Education Commission could help reduce absolute poverty by 30 percent.
- Higher income
One of the benefits of education is the possibility of earning a higher income. An educated person has a better chance of getting a higher paying job. For instance, earnings increase by approximately 10 percent with each additional year of schooling. Higher education allows people to specialize in certain fields, thereby opening numerous earning opportunities.
- Promotes equality
Education is one of the greatest equalizers. In order to ensure that there are equal opportunities for everyone regardless of race, gender or social class, equal access to education is necessary. For instance, almost two-thirds of the world’s 775 million illiterate adults are women. This lack of education often deprives them of better job opportunities. In addition, access to education improves options for girls and women. In fact, a woman’s earnings can increase by 10-20 percent with each additional school year.
- Health benefits
Children of educated mothers have a higher chance of living a healthier life. For example, they are more likely to be vaccinated and their growth is less likely to be stunted because of malnourishment. Children born to mothers with secondary or higher education are twice as likely to survive beyond age five compared to those whose mothers have no education.
- Economic growth
Countries with high literacy rates have citizens with high per capita income. In contrast, developing countries, where a large number of people live below the poverty line, usually have high illiteracy rates. For instance, in 2050, the GDP per capita in low-income countries will be almost 70 percent lower than it would be if all children were learning.
- Discourages crime
Education shapes people’s sense of right and wrong and it usually instills a sense of obligation to fulfill one’s duty to society. People living in poverty are among the most vulnerable. Hence, due to the lack of opportunities, they sometimes turn to illegal activities. Since education improves opportunities, it also helps people avoid these harmful activities.
- Environmental benefits
Climate change and the resulting increased rate of natural disasters could cast as many as 122 million people into poverty by 2030. Green industries will rely on a highly skilled, educated workforce and education can make farmers more knowledgeable about sustainability in agriculture. Additionally, being able to read and write enables a person to be more aware of environmental issues.
- Reduces gender-based violence
In many areas, gender-based violence negatively affects girls’ right to education. Fear of physical violence deters many girls and women from going to school. However, education can also positively affect people’s mindset, thereby discouraging violence.
- Reduces child marriage
Child marriage is a big concern in many developing nations. Education can reduce this dangerous practice, as each year of secondary education reduces the likelihood of marrying as a child by five percent. In fact, completion of secondary education is strongly correlated with girls delaying marriage.
- Reduces maternal death rates
Education can improve maternal death rates. Maternal death rates would drop by two-thirds if all mothers received primary education. That would save 189,000 lives.
Many of these benefits of education are interrelated in that they work together to improve a person’s conditions in life. Unfortunately, despite the numerous benefits of education, there are many places in the world where access to education is very limited. Many children are deprived of education due to a lack of funds and schools in their neighborhoods. The lack of access to education contributes to greater problems such as poverty, inequality and sometimes even crime and violence. Just building a school in a remote area might help hundreds of children rise out of poverty.
– Mehruba Chowdhury