Education Only for the Few, the Lucky, and the Privileged



I believe that one way that we can combat the conflict we see in underdeveloped areas doesn’t involve guns or soldiers, but simply education. According to a report released by the UN, 48% of the worlds population is under the age of 24. Most of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa’s population are made up predominantly young people. With youth being vulnerable in war-torn societies and the lack of education and employment, many see their only option for survival being to join gangs or become child soldiers. (UNOY) So the question I purpose is can education help combat conflict and reduce violent crime?


In 2010 one report states that 6 people are murdered per day in Honduras, 8 in El Salvador and 14 in Guatemala.  While these statistics are especially grime when we learn that a report realize by the WHO estimated that the homicide rates for young men in these countries were among the highest. In Rio de Janeiro, more then 6,000 youth between the ages of 10-18 have been estimated to be involved with gangs and the almost 4 million incarcerated though that region are young, uneducated men with little to none labor market skills. (Dammert)


This is the sad reality for many young adults and children in low income, underdeveloped areas. According to an article reported by BBC there’s about a 100-year gap between the developed and underdeveloped world (Winthrop). This is mostly because the only ones who are allowed to access forms of education are the few, the lucky and the privileged. Even though these kids are enrolled it doesn’t actually account for if their actually learning anything. It also doesn’t look at the lives of each of these children. Most of the programs set up are built from a western perspective. The problem with this is we don’t have to worry about retrieving water from a well, or even the miles needed to be walked just to get to and from class, and while school is suppose to be free that doesn’t account for the supplies needed that most families just don’t have the resources or income to acquire.. While education in the sense of books smarts is hugely important, it only goes so far and children often times drop out before they reach the 5th grade and a large percentage of them still can’t even read.


     So what can be done about this? I believe there has to be a different approach to education in the developing world, but don’t take my word for it. I found an interesting paper written by two professors, one at Rice University and the other at Portland State University and they had and interesting perspective on redefining education in the developing world. Their ideas focused around schooling these children with things that ae relevant in their lives, not the Western model of education that is often times taught. They believe that students in these impoverished regions don’t need academic skills so much as life skills that enable them to improve their quality of life. They do this through teaching life skills like financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills; health maintenance and management skills; and administrative capabilities, such as teamwork, problem solving, and project management. (Epstein and Yuthas) The article was really interesting and I encourage anyone reading this with interest in this topic to check it out!


One thing that researching this has taught me is to check my privilege and be thankful for the educational opportunities that I have. Coming from a middle of the pack, middle class family I’ve always had to work for everything that I wanted, especially attending a school like Clark. As I reflect on my own pathetic self-wallowing that I have been doing these last 6 weeks while working 40+ hours a week and finishing up my classes. I realize just how lucky I am even when I haven’t always felt so. I am privileged to have had an education that prepared me for university. I am privileged enough to have a career opportunity that allows me to pay for the school I am attending. I am privileged to have transportation for work and school. I am privileged to attended a school that will prepare me for the world ahead. I am privileged when so many before me are not, so if you’re reading this way after the semester has ended or maybe you stumbled upon this on accident I encourage you to check your privileged even if you don’t think you have any and use that to fuel you in fighting the inequalities that so many face.


Work Cited:

Epstein, Marc, and Kristi Yuthas. “Redefining Education in the Developing World (SSIR).” Redefining Education in the Developing World. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 July 2016.

Winthrop, Rebecca. “Global ‘100-year Gap’ in Education Standards.” BBC News. BBC, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 July 2016.

United Network of Young Peacebuilders. Agreed Language on Youth, Peace and Security. Rep. New York: United Nations, 2012. Print.

Dammert, Lucia. “Can Education Reduce Violent Crime?” Americas Quarterly. N.p., Fall 2010. Web. 15 July 2016.