With summer over, all over the world, children, teens and students are heading back to school for another year of learning and growing. For the majority of developed countries, many people will take this education for granted, it can be seen as a chore and something one has to do, rather than the great privilege that it actually is. Education is one of the most useful and important tools we have, not just for making our people more knowledgeable and skilled but for developing better and more conscious people to help all our futures be brighter and kinder. Sadly, it can be all to easily forgotten that many many people in the world will not receive even a basic education and that many people will have to fight extremely hard to get any at all.
Education is about so much more than knowledge of facts. One of the biggest contributors to global poverty is lack of access to education. People are beginning to realise just how large an effect education can have on poverty. It makes sense that if you cannot read or do basic math, if you cannot show up for work and apply yourself, you will not have a job. You will be poor. Other actions may dent poverty, but the War on Poverty is 50 years old and the gains are few. IN developing and low-income countries each extra year in education is linked to a 10 percent increase in a person future income.
More than just helping with one’s wage education, particularly for women, can have a dramatic effect on people’s health. A better education can help stop the spread of disease and viruses. For example, a woman who completes even just a primary education is 15 percent more likely to know that the use of a condom and safer sexual practices can help reduce the chances of contracting HIV/AIDS. Education empowers women to make healthy life choices and can drastically reduce the amount of unplanned pregnancies that people have. For example, a woman in Mali who has a secondary education has an average of 3 children compared to a woman with no education who on average has 7 children. Girls who complete their secondary education are six times less likely to be married as children.
With the importance of education in mind, I would like to highlight some great work done by the NGP World Bicycle relief. The organisation helps people in rural areas get to school and education by improving their mobility with a Buffalo bicycle. In areas where walking is the only mode of transport, a Buffalo Bicycle offers the real and immediate benefit of reliable access to essential goods and services. On average a student who is supplied with a Buffalo bicycle attendance increases by 28%. Community health care volunteers make up to 45 percent more visits when given a bike. So far they have distributed over 135,000 bikes in sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, this is just one of the many organisations helped people to break the cycle of poverty by facilitating education.
As many of us go back to school or college it is important to keep these issues in mind and to take a second to appreciate just how lucky you are if you are being educated. Spare a thought for those less fortunate than you and perhaps consider helping an organisation like World Bike Relief or whatever organisation suits you.
UN News Center. “Facts & Figures: Rural Women and the Millennium Development Goals.” UN Women Watch. 2014.
“Investing in the future, Education” World Bicycle Relief. 2017 https://worldbicyclerelief.org/en/impact/education/