“Education is the Most Powerful Weapon Which You Can Use to Change the World.” – Nelson Mandela
Welcome to Month 5 of the 12 Month Giving Challenge, and this month, we’ll turn our attention to education, because it is one of the most important ingredients required to create a better world.
Education impacts every aspect of an individual’s life, and the better educated, the better quality of life a person has. A literate person can read legal and health documents and make better choices regarding important issues like business contracts, insurance benefits, and health needs. A woman who’s studied math can evaluate income, assets, expenses and make more profitable decisions running her business. Citizens with critical thinking skills listen to their leaders, but ask questions, evaluate arguments, and elect better leaders. Educated men can take lessons and principles from one area of life and apply them to another, they can imagine future scenarios and plan accordingly, and, like F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested was the epitome of intellect, they can “hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
Education doesn’t just give us information and facts. It actually transforms the way we think, expands the capacity of our brains, and allows us to reach our full potential.
Study after study reveals the many benefits of education across all areas of our life.
The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that “An additional four years of education lowers five-year mortality by 1.8 percentage points; it also reduces the risk of heart disease by 2.16 percentage points, and the risk of diabetes by 1.3 percentage points…. In 1999, the age-adjusted mortality rate of high school dropouts ages 25 to 64 was more than twice as large as the mortality rate of those with some college education.”
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that workers with only a high school education are twice as likely to be unemployed as those with at least a bachelor’s degree and that each additional level of education results in significant increases in income. A high school graduate earns 42% more than a person who dropped out of high school, a person with some college education but no degree earns 13% more than a high school graduate, a person with an associate degree earns 11% more than a person with some college but no degree, and a person with a bachelors degree earns 33% than a person with an associates degree. That means a person with a bachelors degree will earn 61% more than a high school graduate.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports, “adults who have attained higher levels of education are generally more likely than those with lower levels of educational attainment to report stronger civic engagement, in terms of voting, volunteering, political interest, and interpersonal trust”
What’s the Problem
Unfortunately, not everyone can easily access education. Across the developing world, girls are denied an education for no other reason than they are girls. In poor and rural areas around the world, schools (if they exist) aren’t equipped with the books and tools that are needed to prepare young people for today’s world and teachers aren’t always showing up for work, treating all students equally, or trained to provide the best quality of education. Students everywhere look at the skyrocketing cost of a college education and are wondering how they’re going to afford it.
This month, do something to make education better or more accessible to a young person. You could donate to a charity building schools in developing nations. You could fill a backpack with school supplies for an at-risk student in your community. You could donate to a scholarship fund or to an apprenticeship program that matches young people to skilled labor positions.
There are so many ways you can support education, so choose one that gets you excited. How will you make education, a good education, a reality for some young person?
They will thank you for it, because they’ll get closer to unlocking their full human potential. The world will thank you for it, because that better educated child will be healthier and happier. Like a pebble in a pond, the ripples created by an educated person reaching their potential changes the world in so may ways.