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The Hard Truth About Education

While in the U.S. the average high schooler is moaning and groaning about waking up at 7a.m. to take the dreaded bus to school, many young men and women in developing countries never get the opportunity to do this. The hard truth, however, is in most countries, men are provided more schooling than women. Women today still are not getting the same opportunities as men when it comes to education, something most people in developed nations take advantage of as a free resource.

Malala Yousafzai, a 17 year old Pakistani girl, recently won the Nobel Peace Prize as an activist for equal educational opportunities for girls across the globe. Yousafzai, a blogger for BBC, had recognized the Taliban’s efforts to stop Pakistani girls from getting an education and was shot by a member of the Taliban in October 2012. Miraculously, she survived and recovered, eventually starting a fund to support girls’ education all across the globe called the Malala Fund.

In light of this ongoing struggle, here are some hard facts about education to consider. Girls from lower-income families who reside in Sub-Saharan Africa get, at most, two years of schooling on average. Also, in the Middle East and North Africa, there are over 50 million illiterate women, which is almost twice the amount of illiterate men. The number of illiterate women is doubled, and in some cases more than doubled, in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Yemen. Education is typically not recognized in the lives of preteen girls; of those who are between 10 and 14 years of age, 45 percent have received no form of education. Compared to the 12 years American children spend from kindergarten through high school (without even considering if they go to college), this statistic is flooring. Out of the entirety of youth in the world that are unable to receive an education, girls make up over half of the 140 million total.

But women are not the only ones who suffer from the consequences of a lack of an education. School is not free everywhere. In over 100 countries, both men and women cannot afford the prices of education and may end up not going to school at all. Also, most teachers in developing countries volunteer themselves for the job, and if they do get paid, the sum is next to nothing. There isn’t a burning desire to go work as a teacher in these countries, and as a result, their children suffer.

Educational issues not only affect the students but also their families and even their countries. A woman’s education is often reflected in the dynamic of her family and increases their overall health and well-being. For instance, if the mother of the family is educated, her children will be more likely to reach for higher levels of education. In the larger scheme of things, a country’s tendency to not be as competitive as other countries stems from the gap in economic income due to unfair inequities between men and women.

While these facts and statistics are scary, there is hope on the horizon. One of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals is to make primary school available to all genders by the year 2015. There are also many programs, including World Education’s Ambassadors’ Girls’ Scholarship Program (AGSP), and organizations, such as Heifer International, whose aim is to help children get an education.

Before moaning and groaning and staring at the clock in that late night class, think twice about the opportunities the average student can take advantage of every day.

Sources: npr.org, prb.org, worlded.org

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