The seeds of quality education and a healthy economy
I would like to say there is one answer to this question, but I would be lying. Every element of poverty overlaps with the others. Fixing one area simply won’t fix all the others. So, what is to be done?
Maybe I am biased because I took Geo Ja-Ja’s education and poverty class, but after many semesters of studying development, I believe the largest deficiency lies in quality education. Think about it. If people aren’t educated, they can’t be doctors and help the ill in their communities. If people aren’t educated about business practices, they can’t be expected to operate a profitable venture. If people aren’t educated, they can’t be teachers to educate the rest of their communities. The list goes on and on because everything builds on education.
But first, what is quality education? To me, quality education is centralized, meaning the curriculum is specifically designed to benefit people in a particular community. For example, if there is a community of poor farmers (as we saw in the One Acre Fund video), it makes sense to educate them about proper farming techniques. The education people gain must be able to improve their lives, otherwise it is worthless.
There are many kinds of education, but obviously some kinds work better than others. It is all dependent on the needs of each specific community. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to teach the poor farming community about history. Likewise, it wouldn’t make sense to teach city kids about farming and irrigation.
Another aspect of a quality education is not what is being taught but also how it is being taught. Some education is hands-on like One Acre Fund. Other education is text-book oriented. It varies from location to location and situation to situation. Regardless, education must be applicable for the people it is reaching because it is the foundation for eradicating poverty, at least to me.
But even when people do receive a quality education, the market must be able to utilize those people and their skills. I do not have a strong background in economics, but with the previous thought in mind, education and a strong, active economy make all the difference. An example of this can be seen in modern day America where bright college graduates are struggling to secure well-paying jobs because the economy is bad. In April of this year, the Associated Press reported 1 of every 2 college graduates are jobless or underemployed (http://news.yahoo.com/1-2-graduates-jobless-underemployed-140300522.html).
So there it is—economics and education.
“Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.”