Education: a right or a privilege?

June 16, 2020

Image by AkshayaPatra Foundation from Pixabay

Ahmad Rosa sheds light on the lessons children all around the world need to learn

Lockdown has interrupted many aspects of our daily lives, which we often take for granted – meeting regularly with our friends and family, public events, and even going to the store! For young people, online classes and assignments have become the new normal. While we’ve been trying to adjust to this different way of learning, the time in lockdown has also given us a chance to consider how we might improve our education system and tackle some of the fundamental issues within it.

Born and brought up in Pakistan, a country containing the world’s second highest rate of out-of-school children worldwide after Nigeria, I have always been conditioned to acknowledge that my education was a privilege. Why? Because over 50% of 5 to 16-year-olds in Pakistan are deprived of it.

As of 2016, 14% of the global population are unable to read, write and access the simplest forms of education. What’s more, the majority of these illiterate people are girls, with many cultures refusing to value educating women.

“People from more economically developed countries can never fully appreciate the struggle of those from lesser developed places

According to the Cambridge dictionary, a privilege is:

an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich

Based on this definition, education has to be viewed as a privilege as it’s only available to people living in more developed nations. Here is another interesting fact. Only one in five countries provide their citizens with a minimum of 12 years of free education.

People from more economically developed countries can never fully appreciate the struggle of those from lesser developed places.

For young people living in the UK, education is a basic right that they receive almost from birth. This is certainly not the case when it comes to young people from less privileged countries. Some have to go through a deadly struggle in order to be educated.

Many young girls bravely choose to go to school and risk their lives to receive basic education – a privilege they desperately want to have

Take Malala Yousafzai as an example. She was threatened with death by one of the most dangerous world organisations: the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist movement. But despite their intimidation and even after being shot in the head by them, Malala still fought for her right to be educated. This resilience not only allowed her to achieve high-quality education for herself, but for many others like her across the globe. Malala became their voice, winning a Nobel prize for human rights activism.

One reason why girls are prohibited from going to school in certain cultures is the lack of security. When security is poor, crimes such as rape are commonplace.

Still, many young girls bravely choose to go to school and risk their lives to receive basic education – a privilege they desperately want to have.

The reality is that if education were a human right for all, these girls wouldn’t have to risk their dignity and lives in order to learn how to read and write.

Many students, privileged enough to receive an education however, often fail to see it as an advantage and regard it as a burden instead.

The reasons for this are numerous, but one is the heavy emphasis on performance which makes going through the education system feel more like a chore. Arguably, the nucleus of the problem is that the education system currently revolves around ensuring students obtain the best grades possible, rather than instilling a passion for learning within them.

Being educated means being informed about the injustices plaguing innocent individuals around the world

Yes, students need to be educated on important subjects like Maths, English and Science but they also need to be taught vital life lessons. One of them is the idea that education remains a privilege and that many across the globe are denied it.

Knowing this not only promotes crucial understanding amongst young people, but empowers them to fight for a world where the privilege of education becomes a basic human right everywhere.

Being educated means being informed about the injustices plaguing innocent individuals around the world.

What is significant about the concept of human rights, is that they exist due to us being human – a fact not known by millions because of a lack of education.

We deserve to be educated. And we deserve to have education as a human right instead of a selective privilege.

I conclude with the memorable words of Nelson Mandela:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

This article was produced in partnership with political and media literacy organisation:

Ahmad studies History, Chemistry and Psychology at Brinsworth Academy Sixth Form. He aspires to study Law at university and, because journalism and law are inextricably connected, he likes to do journalism as a hobby! He undertook this writing challenge while on Shout Out UK’s Media Literacy course which he took part in due to his involvement with the Rotherham Community Sports Trust NCS team working, in conjunction with Early Help.

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