Earlier this week, 15 year old Malala Yousafzai spoke for the first time since the horrific assassination attempt on her life orchestrated by the Taliban. Beginning at the young age of 11, Malala began to advocate for Pakistani girls and their right to become educated as the Taliban had banned them from being able to attend school. Refusing to be silenced, she continued to go to school, and it was this last October while sitting on a bus returning from class that her life was nearly taken. Shot in the left side of her face, through her neck and shoulder, her brain miraculously wasn’t struck by the bullet; however, today, she is still undergoing multiple surgeries to repair her skull and ear.
Malala’s story serves as a reminder and an inspiration about the power and life changing effects education can have on an individual’s life. Sadly, as reported by ABC news, more than 32 million girls around the world are still not educated or able to attend school. Thirty-two million.
As someone who can reflect on my education, having regrettably taken this opportunity for granted much of the time, such information is a reminder that an education is something that can’t be taken away and a key to unlocking the door to the future you desire.
Today I’d like to share with you a handful of benefits that studies have proven can be attributed to attaining an education. While I know many of you are college graduates or are currently in the process of attaining your degree, I have no doubt you are already likely aware of these benefits which I will share with you today. What I would also encourage is the continual support of education for others and ourselves whether it be inside a classroom or in the classroom of life. Because you see, while Socrates was right - the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know – the gift of this new found knowledge is that we do indeed know, and we no longer have to rely on faulty sources of belief that we’ve relied upon on in the past or halt us from reaching our goals. When we know, we can do better. We can move forward with confidence being assured that we are moving in the right direction, and we can stand up for ourselves and others speaking out in confidence similarly to Malala.
Benefits of Education on Individuals and a Society
1. Increase your income
In 2005, an economics professor from Princeton provided evidence that an additional year of schooling is capable of improving your earnings by 10%(New York Times).
2. Improve the Economy
An educated society is a society that has more skills and abilities to be innovative and productive, thus creating a mechanism for economic growth. A study observing the American work force between 1915-1999 revealed that increases in an educated workforce prompted a direct result on the economy – a minimum of 23% in overall productivity and 10% growth in the gross domestic product (GDP).
3. Understand how to get along in the world
Whether you have someone to help mentor you or not, once you attain the knowledge you seek, you begin to understand how the world works, you begin to understand the process. And when you know how the game is played, you can then become a player to be reckoned with.
"The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it." –John Locke
4. Reduce Crime
An educated society is a civilized society, and a civilized society is a society that is relying on more constructive tools to find work and get along with each other even when tensions rise.
"He who opens a school door, closes a prison." –Victor Hugo
5. Become Healthier
While there is some evidence to the contrary, by and large a society that is educated and aware of how food and exercise affects the body prompts the individual to take responsibility and make better choices. One area that education has drastically improved health is smoking. The number of people who smoke in the United States, and thus the number of people diagnosed with cancer, has tumbled in recent decades.
6. Spread Democracy
Studies have shown that in the United States an educated populous prompts higher voter participation and increased political awareness. Once people become aware of their rights, they are more likely to stand up for them or fight for what they feel they should have if they don’t. Which brings us back to Malala. as the daughter of education activitist, school owner and teacher, Malala was fortunate to be exposed to education throughout her entire childhood which ultimately prompted her to stand up and fight for the rights of all girls and children to receive an education. You see, acquiring knowledge, learning how things work removes us from the clouds of uncertainty and places in our hands the responsibility of doing the best we can based on our abilities.
No matter what your level of education, I urge you to never stop learning. When you don’t have an answer, seek it until you find it. When you see someone who is seeking information and you can provide the correct answer or point them in the right direction, do so. I can’t help but think of Pap, Huck Finn’s father in Mark Twain’s classic tale, who was disgusted by the fact that his son was becoming educated and might learn how to read and write unlike himself or Huck’s mother. The satirical jab that Twain makes is the irony in Pap’s approach. In order to improve his life, he should be helping his son get a leg up, but instead he tripped over his own shoe laces. To be supportive of education, knowledge and wisdom is to strengthen and help not only ourselves, but the community and world in which we live. To not do so is to hurt ourselves and prevent ourselves and others from reaching their full potential.
Grab onto knowledge wherever you can find it, and trust me, it’s everywhere. You don’t have to be sitting in a classroom to learn something new every single day. So long as you seek it, you will find it.
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