In developing, low-income countries, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%. Education can be clearly considered as a key factor in our progress, however according to a recent survey conducted on people across 149 countries, only 12% considered their education systems innovative and three-quarters expressed dissatisfaction with the education system in their countries. While our education system is evolving, it is imperative that it is moulded to address the problems of today’s modern world. A holistic education system would definitely aid in solving challenges including those of discrimination, mental health, overpopulation among others faced on the global front today. The refugee crisis, one of the biggest debate points of 2016, showcased how people across the world were not acclimatised to accept diversity in their societies.
Across 10 European nations, a median of 59% said the influx of refugees would increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country. At a time where the world is to unite to face the larger problems that are looming over humanity, people are creating further differences among themselves. There is also a failure to understand the advantages that immigration offers to a host country. Professor Alexander Betts, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, stated that besides being humanitarian and ethically imperative, the presence of refugees boosts a local economy significantly as a result of additional purchasing power, the creation of employment and the provision of human capital. Education plays a key role in changing people’s perceptions towards this phenomena, in fact studies by Harvard University and Cambridge University have found that people with higher levels of education and occupational skills are more likely to favour immigration, as they understand the value it brings in terms of cultural diversity and benefits to the host economy. Creating an educational environment that values diversity, appreciates different backgrounds and enthrals its participants to learn from various societies is the need of the hour.
As per the World Health Organisation, depression rates have risen by 18% in a decade since 2005 with more than 300 million people suffering. It also estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds. Learning environments are key in promoting mental health as they provide children and adolescents with a sense of identity and self-respect, direction and purpose in life, and social support. Good mental health is associated with better educational and behavioural outcomes. As per the WHO, access to basic facilities such as primary education is key in preventing mental disorders. In fact, the foundation of good mental health is laid in childhood years, and has a major impact on multiple outcomes later in life, including educational outcomes and employment. Hence, it is essential that our educational curriculum creates awareness regarding the reality of these issues, equips children to combat these issues and help others around them as well.
Proponents of the current education system will argue that there has been an increase in the number of educational institutions and higher enrolment ratios, with the GDP spend on education in least developed countries increasing from 2.88% in the 2000 to 3.47% in 2013. However, as per World Bank statistics the Net Enrolment Rate for secondary education among the least developed countries had increased to only 34% by 2013 from 24% in 2000. There is still a large gap in the number of people who are unable to obtain education.
Also, though the availability of education is increasing all over the world, its accessibility to all the strata of society has not increased. For example, only 6% of young people from the bottom fifth of the population attend educational levels above higher secondary in urban India. The benefits that were intended from all the additional investment in education have not found their way to the masses.
There needs to be more focus to involve people across different economic and social classes to participate and gain from education. Every answer to a problem requires a strong base upon which various solutions can be built. If the base is not strong enough, the entire structure will crumble.
It is therefore of utmost importance that we invest in a holistic educational system that aims at educating young minds and not indoctrinating them with information. The goal of the system should be to groom a well formed mind that can assimilate and utilize information to solve challenges face by humanity in today’s world and in the future.