Is education a right or a privilege?

By Elizabeth Damulo, who lives in Hong Kong. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

In today’s modern society, people have portrayed education as a right,

a human right. From young, individual advocates like Malala Yousafzai, to international, well-known organizations like UNESCO, more and more people believe that everyone should be granted and equipped with skills and knowledge and deserves the right to education.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights believes primary education should be free and mandatory for all. Countries and regions like Hong Kong encourage compulsory education from primary to secondary granting all children equal access to education. However, as much as people regard education as a right for everyone to have access to, it only is ideal and unfortunately not the case in reality.

Behind all of the passionately spoken speeches and voices of these advocates, world leaders, and major organizations, education is only a privilege and is only a right ideally. There are plenty of situations and scenarios where children aren’t allowed or countries aren’t supplied with enough resources for every individual to be educated. Some examples are as follows.

According to an article from the Guardian, almost 70 million children do not have access to education. The Global Campaign for Education has found that Countries in the north-eastern parts of Africa are the least likely to receive any types of education due to an insufficient amount of resources and manpower. There are other situations in the north-western parts of Pakistan in which females were forbidden to receive an education.

Children are not just politically prevented to receive education, but it also depends on the culture of how the older generations perceive education to be. In some cultures and traditions, most people prefer having their children start work as early as possible, so as to start earning money at an early age. In Vietnam, most parents view education as unnecessary and a financial burden to them but would rather teach their children about a certain job for them to continue it for the rest of their life.

The situation in developed cities, however, is entirely different. As people in these cities are granted education but are not given quality education, which in this case is a privilege once again.

In developed cities, the most crucial part of life is whether you will become successful and thrive in your job or not. This “success” can only be determined by the quality of the education you received.

For instance, Hong Kong, which has both local and international schools. Despite granting everyone access to education, the education system of Hong Kong still has a bad reputation. Only a small number of schools, mostly international schools, offer choices on the curriculum the children desire to take, whereas the majority of schools which mainly consists of local schools in Hong Kong, have no alternative and have to undergo the same curriculum, therefore increasing the competition within local schools to get a place in a university.

An example would be how most children in Hong Kong would go for the local Diploma for Secondary Education, abbreviated as DSE as the cost for it is much lower compared to other external and international curriculums, namely International Baccalaureate, abbreviated as IB. Due to financial restraints, children aren’t granted quality education. As long as you are financially stable, chances are that you will be able to receive quality education, hence a making it a privilege.

I believe education should be a right and should be encouraged especially in today’s modern world. With the rapid development of our society and the rising standard of our knowledge-based world, children should be able to receive good quality education so as to strengthen the intelligence and skills of humanity for the future of our society.

Furthermore, children should be exposed to the development of science and technology, as our world is rapidly advancing, our understanding of our world becomes more and more coherent to humans. Hopefully, in the future, everyone may have the ability to receive a proper education to carry on the works and research of previous generations and deepen our understanding of various things that were once inexplainable to human beings.

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