This year for Blog Action Day Amnesty International are asking for ‘thoughts, photos and films about inequality’. So here goes…
Inequality of education is something I feel strongly about.
As shown by the Ebola virus outbreak a lack of education can be deadly. “Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person have played a role in the transmission of Ebola. Therefore people who have died of Ebola must be handled using strong protective clothing and gloves and must be buried immediately.” Advice that would seem common sense to us, but often not known or understood by the affected communities until it was too late.
More frequently inequality of education maintains an unjust, unfair, unequal society.
In March 2013 the Department for International Development published the following:
More than 57 million children around the world do not go to primary school. At least 250 million children cannot read or count, even if they have spent four years in school.
Without a good education, they will be less likely to get a job and look after their families in the future. With fewer people in work and more people in need of support, they will struggle to prosper, holding their own countries back and ultimately the global economy.
High quality education can change this, helping to transform countries for the benefit of us all. Quality education helps citizens work together to create strong, open institutions and societies. An extra year of good schooling lifts a country’s yearly economic growth by 1%, making poor countries richer and, in the long run, less in need of foreign aid – and more able to trade.
Even within the UK the better educated are the highest earners and consequently maintain a system which keeps the rich wealthy and powerful whilst the poor are often disadvantaged.
During the teachers strikes I pointed out to colleagues that there were workers with worse working conditions and difficult jobs, questioning why we should be paid more than others? It wasn’t a line of questioning that made me popular and one comment was that we all worked hard to earn our degrees and teaching qualifications therefore we should be paid more. I found myself using some of our loveliest, but least able, 16 year old students as a counter argument: they would never be able to complete the level of academic study that we did, does that make them worth less? Should their quality of living always be lower due to their academic difficulties? Sadly the difficulties these students face are often a result of their own parents limited or poor education and so the cycle continues…