Education – our most powerful weapon

By Wing Yan Lung. Wing Yan is a student at St Francis’ College, Letchworth Garden City, UK. Please read her entry and leave your comments below.

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,’ said Nelson Mandela. It is true and everyone should have this weapon, as education is a right – a basic, fundamental, human right. Education is no longer a privilege for the prosperous families with great reputations, like it used to be in sixteenth century England. Education, now, is a right and open for everyone as long as they have the desire to learn about the world and people around them.

The right to education is guaranteed without any discrimination, due to gender, beliefs, nationality and background. This means every country is obliged to protect, respect and fulfil everyone’s right to education. The majority of the 61 million children who are not in school are girls, showing there is disparity between the rights of boys and girls, men and women.

People now still fight for education, such as Malala, who is from Pakistan. Thinking of the possibility of herself in Pakistan without an education, she replied that she would now have a few children and fears that she would not be independent and would not able to do what she wanted to, such as being a doctor or a teacher. Instead, she would have stayed at home, surrounded by the walls of a house. Looking at the girls around her, suffering because of not being educated, became her motivation to fight for women’s education.

The governments in different countries tried to promote the right to education to the public by offering free education, which parents do not have to pay for, allowing them to spend more money on fundamental supplies, such as food, clothes and shelter. In Hong Kong, education is free and compulsory in primary and secondary school, meaning there are twelve years of free education. In the United Kingdom, students can choose to study in either an independent school, where parents must pay for the school fees, or state school, where the school is funded by the government. In Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, higher education is free to all EU students. Free education encourages children from poor families, who have financial problems, to learn, so as to give them the power to make decisions in the future and to find jobs to support their families.

Education should be further promoted to countries, especially low-income countries, as it could help to narrow the poverty gap. As more children are educated, this means there will be more manpower in industries and companies, so factories and companies could earn more profit, since more people will be working efficiently, leading to an increase in wages. People can then send parts of their salaries back to their families, to spend on buying food and clothes, especially in the winter. This means education raises the poor to have better lifestyles, nearer to those lifestyles enjoyed by rich people. The government, hence, can spend more money on improving facilities in the country, since fewer people would need grants and allowances.

Education also allows people to reflect upon their country’s law and policies; people have always risen up and expressed their opinions, such as Charles Dickens. Most of his stories were about the poor suffering; his novels raised the public’s attention towards the poor, how they were treated in the poorhouse and in prison by introducing different poor people into his stories. Dickens’ novels reflected the society in nineteenth century England and the problems associated with the Poor Law.

There were other writers, who have also expressed their feeling and opinions by writing novels; the writer I am most fond of is Thomas Hardy. Despite the fact that he was famous for writing sad ending novels, his novels were mostly about the fragility of women in Victorian society and how men treated women unfairly in the olden days, especially Tess of the D’ubervilles, Alec abuses Tess with his strength and the reputation of his family; Angel distances Tess, because she had lost her virginity to Alec before he and Tess got married. Alec comes back to haunt and pressurise Tess in the last few chapters. These two examples reflect the power of these writers’ education, because they had been taught in schools. Their inspirations came from the people they saw and people they encountered. This made them successful in drawing attention to the majority views and thoughts of the poor women in Victorian times by planting the seeds into the readers’ mind, by creating stories that brought message of being aware of society.

In short, education is a human right; it is a weapon to change the country and the world, as well as a weapon to protect yourself, especially to protect yourself away from fraud, since you have gained knowledge from various subjects, learning from students around you and from your own experience. This helps you to be able to suspect others.

Although I have said that education should be for everyone in the world, this does not mean that every person in the world has to study the same system as the people in the United Kingdom do, but to study things about something that might be useful to them, such as mathematics, as you can use it when you go shopping, especially if there is a bargain or a seasonal sale. Geography is useful, as you learn how to read maps accurately. It is important that everyone has the right to education, because as you learn more from different subjects, you will have more inspiration about what you are going to be in the future.

As I mentioned, education should be further promoted to low-income countries; this can be promoted by non-government organisations, so volunteers can go to countries like Africa and teach the children to write and learn. These organisations often ask people to donate their old or unused books to other countries, so they can be used as learning materials for the children and this is opening up the world of opportunities for these impoverished citizens of the world.

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