Inequities within Global Education and the Importance of Technology
By: Diandra Ross, Associate, Research & Development
Political icon Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education is not just a privilege, it is a human right. Unfortunately, several countries lack the ability to provide a lucrative education for its younger citizens. Many of these countries include developing nations in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Poverty and education are cyclical issues, which makes improving education in these countries particularly difficult.
The Problem With Education Today
Some of the reasons why a country might have a poor education include, but are not limited to:
- Inadequate environments/facilities
- Inadequate teachers
- Lack of teaching resources i.e., textbooks, school supplies, computers
- Lack of familial/community support
- High dropout and low retention rate
- Distance and lack of transportation to and from school
- Prioritization of other issues, i.e., fetching water, agricultural labor
Why is Prioritizing a Good Education Important? What Does a Lack of Education Lead To?
An undereducated society is the root of several issues that affect developing countries. Poverty and high unemployment are the most obvious issues, as an uneducated society means less people eligible for skilled work, and unskilled jobs are becoming less and less prominent due to the rise of automation. As education is how the importance of health and hygiene is often communicated to members of society, populations who are under educated also tend to be less healthy. It has been proven that educating young children on proper hygiene would dramatically decrease the mortality rate of certain diseases. A less obvious issue caused by an under educated population is gender inequality. Women who are educated are more likely to speak up against oppressive practices, and educated mothers are more likely to send their children to school. Education is also proven to decrease the mortality rate of mothers and infants during and after pregnancy. Political inefficiency is also an issue, as a lack of education means a tendency to make less informed political decisions or be wholly ignorant of basic political issues (i.e where/when to vote, who the local representatives are, etc.).
The least obvious issue that is caused by poor education however is the most important. A lack of education equals a lack of innovation. The uneducated are less likely to make new discoveries or challenge social and political norms. They are not encouraged to challenge the status quo in an inefficient government. They are ultimately limited in their potential and ability to Strive for Greatness.
The Inefficiency of Educational Philanthropy
There are hundreds of existing organizations whose mission it is to help improve education for people around the world such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. Philanthropy towards education has increased from year over year throughout the 2010s. However, there is a lack of understanding as to what issues within certain education systems should be improved. Building schools and providing basic school supplies can only go so far, especially within a rapidly evolving society. The importance of children’s education is often abandoned around preteen years in several countries. Meanwhile, many philanthropic companies tend to focus on higher education, providing aid to colleges and universities.
So how do we bridge this gap?
Computer literacy is an absolute necessity when entering the work force. As a result, shouldn’t access to technology be a necessity in schools?
Educational technologyor “EdTech” refers to technology and tools that are developed specifically for education purposes.
Providing equipment like computers, tablets, and other devices will help drastically improve the quality of education in struggling countries. Students will learn how to type, conduct research through the internet and use learning programs that aid teachers. Internet access is especially important, as young people will have the ability to educate themselves on alternative ideas and different solutions to problems that aid their communities.
Several organizations have already recognized the importance of educational technology and have taken strides to aid countries in need. ULesson is a Nigerian education technology startup that provides a digital curriculum for students and has since raised $7.5 million in funding. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a renewed interest in investing in edtech for children around the world in both developed and developing countries.
Fortitude Global Foundation realizes that changes need to be made in the way that we approach educational philanthropy. Fortitude is committed to focusing on spreading and advancing educational technology in developing countries, and in turn provide aid to several issues that might be affecting said countries. While society is moving forward, these communities are moving backwards. Its time to change that.