When I think about starting a new school year, I picture clean notebooks, fresh pencils and an organized backpack. However, gaining another year of education means so much more than new school supplies to students worldwide.
This is because attending school for just one extra year can produce tangible benefits for students and their families. Here is a list of what the world could gain if every student were to spend one more year in the classroom.
1. Knowledge is (economic) power
Getting an education means learning skills like reading, writing, and multiplying, but also gaining exposure to abstract concepts like teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity. When you combine these two knowledge areas, you have an individual who is more likely to find a job than a less educated peer.
Employment means economic empowerment, and according to the Global Partnership for Education, an individual gains 10% more future earnings for every extra year of education attained.
But wait, there’s more. For every one year increase in a country’s average education level, there is also .37% increase in GDP.
That means that staying in school for one more year not only improves an individual's financial situation, but that of everyone them. Knowledge is power.
2. Staying in school is healthy
I definitely caught a few colds from classmates… how is staying in school healthy? Let’s take a look at Botswana, a country with one of the highest rates of HIV in the world.
In 1996, the country changed its education policy so that students had to complete an extra grade to obtain a secondary school degree. Researchers compared the health of these graduates with students who were not required to complete the extra grade, and found that one more year of education decreased the risk of contracting HIV by one third.
There are a few theories that can explain this trend. As mentioned earlier, individuals with higher education levels are more economically empowered, which increases the affordability of condoms and contraceptives. Prolonged education may also improve students’ cognitive skills, allowing them to make healthier sexual decisions.
3. Your future children will thank you
I don’t know anyone who enjoyed waking up at the crack of dawn to go to school, but research indicates that you owe it to your future family to get out of bed and on the bus (especially if you’re a girl).
A study conducted by the University of Washington concluded that every time the average level of education for women increases by one year, a country experiences a 9.5% drop in infant mortality rates.
Women with higher levels of education are more likely to learn about the importance of clean water and sanitation, and ensure that their children receive vaccinations and professional medical attention. Additionally, educated mothers tend to space out the births of their children, which further reduces child mortality rates.
4. Education is a step toward world peace
Okay I have to come clean, #4 is more about the benefits of going to school in general rather than for one extra year. But education’s role in promoting world peace is no less important!
Research shows that countries with secondary school enrollment rates that are 10% above the international average have a 3% lower rate of engaging in a war.
3% might not seem like much, but consider the fact that over 50 million children currently can’t go to school AT ALL due to violence and conflict in their countries. Any chance of reducing war worldwide will allow millions of children to return to school, further increasing the chances of sustained world peace.
Education is a pretty foolproof investment. If one extra year of school can produce such concrete benefits, what will the world be like when universal education becomes a reality?
Step up to make that a reality by sending an e-mail to the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg to lead the global community in investing more in universal education.