The human race has made significant progress in the past 7 million years. From being cave-dwelling Neanderthals to now being jet-setting futurists, we have come a long way. Today, as we gear up to become a planet of 9 billion people, are we better off than we were millenniums ago? Of course access to the bare necessities of life has never been easier. Shelter electricity, food, and hygiene have considerably improved the quality of our lives. But the one essential element that separates us from the dumb, that helps create better societies, develop virtues, and gives us a sense of freedom—is Education and many around the world are still deprived of it.
The classic definition of education is "the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university". But education is much more than that. It is a process of continuous learning which can be acquired anywhere at any time and at any age. It is the fundamental right of every citizen because it promotes empowerment and ensures development benefits. Education can be used for the upliftment of society since it helps elevate the social and economic conditions in the marginalized sections of society.
Education makes us better citizens by teaching us how to conduct ourselves through life by following rules and regulations and giving us a sense of conscience. It makes us more confident to go out there and achieve things. Many governments across the world have recognized the importance of education as a tool to enhance progress and make the world a better place. Let us see how it achieves that:
1. Education Spreads Awareness
Blind faith and superstitions are what bog down society. People misled by false beliefs do more harm than good to society. Education helps us question, gives us an analytical mind, and helps us reject superstitions. An educated mind asks for logic and scientific reasoning behind all actions.
2. It Helps Us Stand Up Against Wrong And For The Right
Education helps lower the crime rate. That’s because the educated can differentiate between what’s right and what’s wrong. Research has shown that increasing the high school completion rate by just 1 percent for all men ages 20-60 would save the U.S. up to $1.4 billion per year in reduced costs from crime. This is true for other regions as well.
3. It Helps Progress
Better education opens up a host of opportunities and this is especially relevant in the times we live in where technology and education ensure that opportunities are not bound by geography.
4. It Gives Us a Healthier Lifestyle
Better-educated people tend to live longer and have better lifestyles. For example, research conducted in central European OECD countries has shown that a 30-year-old tertiary-educated man can expect to live eight years longer than a 30-year-old man who has not completed upper secondary education. While a tertiary-educated woman can expect to live four years longer than a woman without an upper secondary education.
5. Helps Us To Be More Productive
It is a fact well known that the more degrees you have, the better would be your economic performance. There is a deep connection between education and productivity and in this age where there is competition at every turn, education is what will help an industry and subsequently a nation, to flourish.
6. It Helps Us Connect Across Borders
Digital education has helped achieve this. Education has given students from across borders opportunities to connect and communicate and work towards building a better future and a better world. For example, a professor in America can help inspire a student in Afghanistan to study and travel the world, and help herself and a whole generation after her, to lead a better life.
7. It Gives Empowerment
Education helps turn weakness into strength. Education gives us the confidence to stand up for ourselves. It improves our decision-making capabilities, makes us mobile, and gives us access to social networks. Many types of research have proven that in countries where women are subjected to gender bias, education helped them stand up against marital violence, improved their decision-making capabilities, and helped them take charge of their own lives.
To quote Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, “books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”