Lack of education: Causes and effects
Few things have such a diverse and far-reaching consequence on the overall quality of a person’s life and that of a community, as lack of education. Although it is categorized as one of the fundamental human rights, education is nowadays denied to many children around the world. According to the Borgen Project research 72 million children do not attend primary school, and a staggering number of 759 million adults are illiterate.
The causes that prevent one from getting a quality education are just as severe as the effects that the lack of education generates. This is why societies with poor economies and insufficiently developed education systems are unable to leave the vicious circle without outside intervention or help. Simply put, building a good education system requires a strong economy, and a strong economy in turn requires quality education. Therefore, one of the most important global issues is how to provide every individual in the world with access to education.
What causes lack of education?
Developed countries have long recognized the importance of education, therefore, in many of these countries access to education is a given. On the other hand, for many underdeveloped countries and economically struggling parts of the world, education is a luxury that is often unaffordable to most. The reasons why many individuals around the world have been denied access to a quality education and why the knowledge they possess is not enough to successfully tackle the challenges of the 21st century can be economic, geographical, and social in nature.
- Lack of schools. School is much more than a building where teaching takes place. School also includes teachers, teaching materials, and all those other things that make an education system. However, all this requires money. The economic position of some countries is such that even with all the help they receive, they do not have enough funds to build schools to provide the necessary education to their children.
- Not understanding the importance of education. The economic situation and a low level of education in some countries are the main reasons why children are forced to struggle for survival from an early age, leaving no time for education.
- Lack of money. Another economically-based reason is the fact that many families do not have enough money even for the basic needs, which is why children in such families have to work from an early age. According to research, about 300 million children between the ages of five and seventeen work, so child labor is one of the major causes for lack of education.
- Unfavorable geographical position. Some countries lack the needed infrastructure or are located in the parts of the world with severe climate which makes commuting to school significantly more difficult.
- Prejudice. Members of ethnic and other minorities, as well as children with disabilities are often the target of prejudice in some countries, which makes it more difficult for them to get an education in comparison to other groups.
- Inadequate conditions. According to UNICEF, the lack of qualified teachers, inadequate teaching materials, and poor sanitation are some of the reasons why many children do not receive a quality education. Even when they do go to school, children in such conditions fail to acquire applicable and quality knowledge, sometimes even basic knowledge. UNICEF states that 617 million children and adolescents around the world fail to acquire even the minimum literacy and math knowledge, although two thirds of them attend school.
It should also be noted that the lack of education does not only arise from not having access to education and non-attendance, but it is also a direct consequence of poor quality of teaching. Thus, UNICEF underlines that “Schooling does not always lead to learning. Worldwide, there are more non-learners in school than out of school”.
In other words, in addition to the general approach to education, it is also necessary to raise the quality of instruction so as to overcome the global issue that the lack of education represents.
What are the negative effects of lack of education?
Negative consequences of the lack of education or inadequate instruction are numerous and varied, and can impact both the life of an individual, and society as a whole. They range from health-related reasons, social, and economic reasons, each of them generating serious consequence. The longer a person or a community is cut off from education, the more severe, long-term and irreversible the effects become.
10 consequences of not having access to education
1. Poor health
Some of the basic lessons we learn in primary school are related to taking care of one’s own psychophysical health. The importance of hand washing, sexual health, necessity of regular physical activity – all this knowledge is something that stays with a person all their life, and is acquired at school.
There is a strong link between lack of education and poor health and hygiene. The Borgen Project research conducted in Uganda yielded staggering results: educated people in the country have 75% less chance to contract HIV/AIDS, while young people with good primary education have 50% less chance to contract the same virus.
2. Shorter life expectancy
The IMS Fiscal Monitor research showed that education can even affect a person’s life expectancy. Specifically, in developed economies, the gap between men with higher education and those with secondary, or primary education ranges between four and fourteen years, and is even larger in some countries.
Due to adverse life circumstances, many people lack the tools and means that would enable them to leave poverty behind. Education is precisely what provides a person with these tools and means, but in poor communities and countries, it either does not exist at all, or if it does, it is inadequate, and this is how people find themselves in the vicious circle of poverty from which they cannot free themselves. The fact is that the more educated a person is, the better their chances of a decent salary.
Unemployment is tightly linked to poverty. People who lack education, or who only finished primary school often work poorly paid jobs, or struggle to find any job whatsoever. Simply put, good jobs are reserved for qualified employees, and qualifications are primarily acquired through education.
In today’s age of all-present digitalization where knowledge quickly becomes outdated, and traditional jobs are slowly disappearing, education becomes even more important, representing the key factor that decides whether a person will be able to adapt to changes and find a suitable job, or will become unemployed.
According to a survey conducted by OECD, 69% people with lower secondary education are employed, whereas that percentage among people with higher education is 88%.
5. Lower salary
People who lack qualifications, even when they find a job, will always have a significantly lower salary than their more educated counterparts. Less paid and less valued jobs are reserved for unqualified workers, and often such positions are in danger of being automated, which creates additional uncertainty regarding salaries and jobs for people with a lower level of education.
6. Gender inequality
Women who receive poorer education than their male counterparts are often in an adverse position. Quality education gives women independence, higher salaries and the opportunity to express their views on various social issues. Education means independence and the ability to make informed decisions on one’s life, for both men and women.
7. Social isolation
Uneducated people struggle to fit in social situations, and often remain marginalized. The lack of resources generated by education prevents them from participating in numerous social activities in a productive and comprehensive way, in contrast to educated people who engage in the same activities without difficulty.
8. Illegal activities
People with lower education, the unemployed, or those who work poorly paid jobs are often forced to work hard to provide a bare existence. Hence, it is no wonder that lack of education can often lead to a life of crime, which such people often see as the shortcut or the only way out of their disadvantaged position.
9. Poor economy
Countries with educated people have stronger, better developed, and more sustainable economies. Estimates say that this trend will continue and become even more stronger in the 21st century, when due to digitalization and the changes it brings, a countries’ ability to successfully adapt to the changed circumstances will directly depend on their educated population.
In other words, countries with an educated population will have more productive workers, innovative scientists and will be able to come up with more creative solutions than countries with poorly developed economic and education systems. As a consequence, workers in such countries will receive higher salaries, and these countries will be more desirable places to live.
10. Impossibility of (adequate) participation in political and social life
Without a comprehensive education in both sciences and humanities, a person will lack the knowledge and tools that enable them to make intelligent and meaningful political decisions. Who to vote for in the elections, which initiatives to support, who and what to trust, all these are things one must decide about with care and commitment. It is education that enables open dialogue, constructive exchange of opinions, and joint search for the best solution for society as a whole. Therefore, it helps the individual not to fall prey to political marketing, but to base their decisions on their own thoughts and views.
Education is an opportunity for all
Open access to education is not just an individual right, but a great opportunity for society as a whole as well. The more people have access to the knowledge and skills provided by authentic education, the greater the chances of overall progress. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure access to education for everyone. In order to do that, the link between the causes of the lack of education and its negative effects must be broken. Efforts concentrated on overcoming the causes will simultaneously nullify the effects, and the solution is quality education accessible to all.