CLEMSON, South Carolina — Education is becoming one of the most important factors to a person’s success in today’s society. Whether a person is living in poverty or among the wealthiest in the world, education is necessary to advance in any situation. National Public Radio is calling education “the most important revolution of our time.” Yet, still so many people ask the question: “Why is education so important?” Let’s look at five positive effects of education in our society:
1. Education Decreases Poverty
About 61 million children are not enrolled in primary school. Of these kids, 40 million live in poverty. It is hardest for those living below the poverty line to even imagine sending their kids to school because in many countries, obtaining an education is not free. If there must be a choice between eating a meal and educating a child, most families would choose eating a meal. Boys are often kept out of school so they can work and bring in money for the family, while girls are kept out to farm, cook and do other things in the home that are needed to keep the family functioning.
If those living in poverty can get an education, they can pull themselves out of those living conditions. They can find a job and earn an income, which is a key part to ending poverty. They can become self-sufficient and independent from outside aid. An education is an invaluable tool for anyone living in poverty today.
2. Education Promotes Health
People who have an education are significantly healthier than those who are not. Maternal health benefits hugely from education. A child who is born to an educated mother is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of five. In the same way, every additional year of education a mother has lowers the child mortality rate by two percent. Educated mothers are twice as likely to immunize their children, and are more likely to seek prenatal care and assisted childbirth.
Another area in which health could improve with education is decreasing the cases of HIV/AIDS. If every child in the world receives a primary education, seven million cases of HIV could be avoided in the next 10 years. A secondary education lowers people’s risk of HIV by 75 percent. Such a strong correlation has been seen that education is considered a “social vaccine” for girls in avoiding HIV.
3. Education Closes the Gender Gap
For many years, women were not allowed to attend school or obtain an education. Because of this, there is a large gender gap, which only creates further problems. Women who gain an education are working toward minimizing the gap to further the abilities of women around the world. An education often prevents young girls from being married off into a potentially limiting, harmful situation. Additionally, women with an education are able to make better, informed decisions for themselves. They often wait longer to have children than those who do not have an education. This ensures that the woman is ready to have children, rather than just being pressured into it by her husband or society. Women with an education have on average three children, while uneducated women have on average seven children.
4. Education Minimizes Malnutrition
Malnutrition is a severe problem that many poor countries are facing today. Education has the potential to decrease malnutrition in these countries. According to USAID, educating girls is one of the best ways to fight hunger, even outperforming temporarily increasing a country’s food supply. Education can provide people with new, more effective farming techniques, which can increase crop production and decrease malnutrition. Additionally, studies show that if women farmers had the same education as men farmers, crop production could rise by up to 20 percent.
5. Education Provides Economic Growth
In order for a country to see steady economic growth, education must be a priority. For every year of education, a person’s average earnings increase by 10 percent. This means that the GDP could increase by one percent every year if all citizens receive a quality education. With regard to women, if girls receive the same education as boys, developing countries could gain up to $90 billion each year. No country in history has seen a steady economic increase without at least 40 percent literacy rate. Education also increases a person’s chance at obtaining a steady job. By earning an income, people contribute to the country’s economy as a whole.
– Hannah Cleveland