Picture yourself arriving in a new town where the terrain is unfamiliar. You identify traffic signs by their shapes and colours, hoping you’re not breaking any laws. You decide what to eat by the smell of the cuisine wafting out of open doorways. You choose a movie to see based on its poster’s image, though you’re not completely sure what it may be about.
These are just some of the ways that illiterate citizens are forced to navigate everyday life.
Add to those challenges the frustration of not being able to count money to pay for groceries or calculate a budget to manage bills, because you were never taught basic maths.
Couple those issues with no context for historical occurrences, no understanding of how governments work, no concept of scientific theories, and no exploration of creativity through the arts.
Only then may you begin to know what it feels like to lack an education.
Sadly, 258 million children worldwide won’t have the opportunity to enter or complete school this year. And of those around the globe who are enrolled, 617 million lack basic maths and reading comprehension. The current generation of students that have faced closures because of the pandemic, are at risk of losing $17 trillion in future earnings, according to a report by UNICEF, Unesco and the World Bank.
It’s time to turn this around, before it’s too late…
Changing Course, Transforming Education
The theme for this year’s International Day of Education, ‘Changing Course, Transforming Education,’ advocates for “an urgent rebalancing of our relationships with each other, with nature as well as with technology that permeates our lives, bearing breakthrough opportunities while raising serious concerns for equity, inclusion and democratic participation,” according to UNESCO.
Thankfully, there are tangible ways to make each and every portion of that goal happen.
Rebalancing our Relationships with Each Other
Education is something even those with opposing political views can agree on because teaching our young creates a better future for all. Education is good for boosting the economy because of the amount of skilled labourers entering into and sustaining the workforce. On the flip side, there’s a correlation between a lack of education and increases in criminal activity, so community safety is enhanced by an educated population.
When we lift up those who need assistance, we work toward ending cycles of poverty and achieving gender equality. Through constructive conversations and healthy discourse, we can find common solutions that benefit the greater good through sensible legislation and the repair of broken systems.
Rebalancing our Relationship with Nature
Rebalancing our Relationship with Technology
Innovation is necessary for progress and there’s no question that technological advances have made our lives better in countless ways. But there is a detrimental side to our digital devices disrupting our lives 24/7.
When we lose touch with nature and with one another, it can cause a reduction of empathy in our social interactions as we may forget how to recognize emotional cues. A cyberpsychology report by John Suler, Ph.D., indicates there is also danger in anonymous social media interactions because of the negative behaviour that can result from identity dissociation.
Taking walks in nature, limiting our own screen time and engaging with our communities are habits we should pass down to the next generations to prevent further disconnects, while we still have time …
Bearing Breakthrough Opportunities
It’s our responsibility as humans who care about one another to foster a landscape of possibilities that encourage and nurture a culture of learning. To do that, we can support legislation that favours education and provide safety nets when opportunity gaps occur. If you are in need of assistance or would like to help, the following organisations and programmes are dedicated to educational progress:
- The World Literacy Foundation brings books and support to those in need worldwide.
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends free books to children from age birth to five, regardless of family income level.
- Organisations like Action Tutoring and EM Tuition in the U.K., and Upchieve and Learn to Be in the U.S. provide tutoring, free of charge.
- The Global Math Project offers a joyful approach to learning mathematics.
- The Center for Learner Equity is a nonprofit organisation that works to ensure students with disabilities have equitable access to a high-quality public education.
- The Cynthia Lennon Scholarship for Girls helps young women with funds for tuition, boarding costs, transportation and other educational necessities. Read our recent blog post for the latest on our 2020 scholarship recipients.
- Our charity partners at Studio Samuel help girls in Ethiopia reach their potential by providing education and teaching employable skills.
- Our charity partners at Mothers of Africa build schools and provide training programmes that foster better health for women and children. Watch our website for an update on their Zambia school build, coming soon.
- There are also volunteer opportunities available at the local level in nearly every town and city—check with nearby schools and libraries if interested.
The future has issued its cries for help in the icebergs that are melting, the political unrest that continues to incite violence and the ongoing inequalities faced by those targeted for their race, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic background.
With Hope and Dedication, we have a chance to reverse these injustices … and making education a priority is a great place to start.