Value of Education

I usually avoid watching the news, it’s mostly depressing and discouraging. Yet, I found myself watching a documentary on the Aljazeera channel today, I didn’t catch the name and I think I caught it half ways. The show was on education in the US and about how the system is failing the black population, particularly the black male population. Kids graduating highschool with barely 8 grade level reading skills. A single mom and her 8-year-old son in 2nd grade who struggles to read the word “find”. A grandmother who has struggled to keep her grandson in school and who now has a very real chance of attending college with scholarships has his dreams hang in the balance when his house is raided and his mother’s drug paraphernalia are attributed to him and he is hauled off to court. Parents caught in the cycle of dropping out of school, making minimum wage, barely keeping their head above the water, trying to do their best by their kids and how the educational system is failing them. Kids in inner cities have the biggest drop out rates, they also have the least access to resources that can help, good teachers and a budget that allows them to impart education equally to each and every student.

The shows presenter is an inner city, black men who grew up in a single parent home. He did his research well and he presented facts and figures that would be alarming everywhere. Yet it is amazing that in a country like the US, the education system is failing those who need it the most. Have they forgotten the value of education? While countries like Korea churn out 20% of their students as engineers or scientists only 6% of the US students make it in these categories. With numbers like that brain drain really is the only way for the US to remain competitive in any technological field. How sad is that? US students are drowning in debts while parents here in the Asian countries go broke to send their children to the US for education. The irony of it is just mind-boggling.

Back home, right here in Bangladesh, I fight for education for the women. The right to higher education for women in my family, in my circle, in the families of the woman who works for me. Like the single parent in the show, my full-time live-in maid finally gets it. When I hammered on the subject of education for her daughters and their children, she finally agreed with me today and said that she’ll tell her daughters to put their children in school. So that they can read and write, know their right and get a better life.

This lady is caught in the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty and malnutrition. She grew up poor in a family which saw it fit to marry her off at the age of 9 to a man several decades elderly to her with 2 more wives. She believes that she was married off so early and to such a bad match because her parents were too poor to pay a dowry. So she saved money for her daughters dowries and she paid nearly a 100,000 in dowry for her two daughters to be first wives to men who were closer to their age. Her daughters were married at 11 and 13 years old, within a year, they each had a child. The marriage is sealed, she came back to the capital to work as house-maid to pay off their dowry debts.

Now she sees her life being repeated in that of her daughters. Married with children, inconsiderate husbands with no thoughts on providing for them or securing a future, the daughters like her are now working at minimum-wage jobs in factories. Long hours and hard labor that takes a toll in their already malnourished and battered bodies. When I talk about the value and importance of education, she gives me empty looks. When you do not have a roof over your head or food in your belly, sending children to school is not exactly top priority. But I guess from today’s conversation, it seems that she might have finally changed her mind on the value of education. And I hope this next generation will have a better chance at life then she or her daughters did.



Posted on July 19, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. In Australia we have free education and consider it a right. thanks for posting this today to remind me that there are those less fortunate.
    It has really made me think.


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