Ending poverty through education is one of the biggest steps we can take for out-of-school children to alleviate global suffering heightened by COVID 19. It’s a good slogan that some might feel too idealistic, yet it’s the stark truth. Those not born with silver spoons in their mouths need the best education money can buy.
Ending poverty through education boggles the mind. Access to education is not a privilege, it’s a right. And yet, 262 million children are not in school, the majority are girls. Hitching their wagon to a star is the dream of hopeful youngsters reared by parents who have been through the rigors of wars, poverty, unemployment, and epidemics.
We are told that the poor will always be with us. That’s propaganda to prevent dissatisfaction with governments and institutions. I had a dream, and in my dream, we all work together with a diverse group of governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, the private sector, and teachers. We are united in this advocacy of ending poverty through education.
Ending poverty through education easier said than done? An impossible dream? Let’s look through the eyes of a child in India and her seemingly simplistic interpretation of what adults say.
Yesterday I helped my Pitaji set up a small aquaponics farm in our backyard that we made from collected scraps and other household items. It’s something I’ve been interested in for a long time, as I’ve read all about the aquaponics farms in India, and I particularly love the Youtube videos on the Madhavi farms, the largest commercial aquaponic farm in India. There is even an aquaponics village in India.
As we prepare to go back to school online and start embracing the new normal my Pitaji and mum have been discussing education with us. We watch the news of desperate situations in societies all over the world where lockdowns are extended and the humanitarian challenges develop into an ever-growing crisis.
Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO said
” Education is not a privilege, it is a legal right”
“As we mark the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are still 262 million children out of school, and more than 750 million youth and adults unable to read and write. This is unacceptable and countries must ensure that the millions of people left behind have access to the powerful seed of education they are entitled to.”
I recently read an article she wrote about education being like a seed, and it got me thinking.
Farmers know all about seeds, right? There is a time to plant and a time to harvest, and they are in different seasons. If you don’t plant you cannot expect a harvest. So if education is the seed, what are we planting and what are we going to harvest?
What is education, and why is it intimately so important?
There are many different ideas about what a good education is, and I turned to my dictionary to establish a base of understanding for some of my ideas.
My dictionary says that education is the process of receiving and giving systematic instruction, especially at the school or university. It is a body of knowledge that is acquired while being educated. It is information about training in a particular subject.
So what is at the “end” of a good education? Ultimately, it is to create a contributing member of society that can fulfill Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which results in a well-adjusted, functioning human being that is able to interact with their environment and fellow humans in a harmonious manner.
This made me start thinking about an education and aquaponics, where I will be able to set up a small scale commercial farm in our yard that would produce fish and vegetables which I’ll be able to sell to our neighbours. There is a girl in South Africa that set up an aquaponics farm at 15 years of old, and she has developed a thriving business.
Another beautiful story I read about was that a community in Kenya has developed a community currency and uses a payment system on the blockchain to pay for goods and services in the community and create a medium of exchange.
I thought of how we could combine these two ideas, and educate people in the field of farming and finance, using an aquaponic farm and blockchain technology.
This would go a long way to alleviating poverty and creating a platform for a meaningful education that was relevant and had a predictable outcome, that of creating a business and feeding a family, with the added benefit of a creating a business for an entrepreneur.
Around this concept we could build all the fundamentals of a good education, mathematics, English, history of farming, social sciences and technology, a community of students, sensors and robotics, AI and drones, resulting in an education for all.
Ending poverty through education
Investing in education is investing in the future of one’s country and therefore, should have high priority. It is not only important for economic reasons but also because we have a commitment to children to fulfill their right to education. This means that we have to find ways to include the children that are currently out of school.
This means that we need more teachers, more classrooms, ongoing training for teachers, a variety of educational materials. On top of that, we need an effective curriculum to make sure children can read and write when they leave school and that they are provided with the necessary basic skills to participate well in their communities. That’s traditional education but how about if we factor in blockchain technology to cut costs but not quality?
Just think of the return on the investment, if one kid from a rural area, given access to education and through his passion for learning, discovers something that has the potential to improve everyone’s life. And the downside… keep him in the dark and his mind’s potential is wasted. Multiply that by 262 million.
How many children have been deprived of opportunities to contribute not only to their own future but also to the improvement of their communities? I think that education is not even a right… it is a necessity.