Why education is often taken for granted

‘The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows’ Sydney J. Harris

For many of us the acceptable route to a sufficient level of education is through the attainment of academic qualifications, such as diplomas and degrees, but, that is not the norm for all of us, either by choice or by circumstance. Unfortunately over 1 billion of the world’s population is illiterate due to a lack of access to educational services or just simply being unable to afford school fees. Education is something that is often taken for granted. Many of us are fortunate enough to be raised in societies where going to school is second nature with libraries scattered around and teachers and facilities that can cater to our learning requirements. However, there are those of us in the world who don’t have unwavering access to educational content and have to make do with what they can. In some developing countries schools are over-flowing with children eager to learn but there just aren’t enough resources to ensure that they are efficiently provided for.


There are many of us whose skillset aligns more with the creative and others who are more into STEM as well as those who are lucky enough to champion both. Aside from the academic, school is a social experience, where we fall down on our faces, both literally and figuratively, learn about people and triumph when faced with adversity. A lot of the time we look back at the lessons that we learned more so than the contents of those that we attended. Once we’ve finished school we want to be able to say ‘I may not have liked it all of the time, but ultimately, I grew from the experience’ and then transfer this knowledge into our future endeavours, whether it be personal or professional.

In many countries parents have to pay school fees for their children, in numerous instances their actual income is significantly lower than someone on minimum wage. There is a common misconception that the educational bodies in the developing world are subpar so people from such countries are under-qualified. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. It is often the case that they are predestined careers that do not go beyond the household, therefore little weight is placed on their academic competence. 

Children from grade 2 attend outdoor classes at Bairy Harin Mary Government Primary School at Palashbari, Gaibandha on 5 September 2013.
Children from grade 2 attend outdoor classes at Bairy Harin Mary Government Primary School at Palashbari, Gaibandha on 5 September 2013.

There are so many things to learn about that go beyond STEM subjects. Geography, history, sociology, there is an abundance of things to learn just by merely leaving your homes and stepping out of your comfort zone. There are various social entrepreneurs who endeavour to educate others through unconventional means. Such social entrepreneurial ventures include Bravehearts Expeditions, which is an outdoor education centre for Lake Volta. Braveheart Expeditions attempts to take people out of their comfort zones by pushing them into experiences that go outside of the norm, like survival training.

There never comes a point in life when we have learnt enough. Education goes beyond the academic, it is reinforced by our family, peers and communities. It shouldn’t be recognised as a burden that is time consuming and ultimately redundant. It goes past the institution and as much as it is cliched, knowledge is power, and that power is transferable. There are so many potentially phenomenal world leaders, politicians, teachers, doctors, Nobel Peace prize winners and social entrepreneurs whose talents and abilities go amiss and unrecognised by both themselves and the world because they never had access to a proper education. In an ideal world we could tap the heels of our ruby slippers and education would become accessible to us all but until someone creates an algorithm or an app for that we’re going to have to rely on our own power.

‘Education is not preparation for life, it’s life itself’  John Dewey




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