Pink Floyd was wrong

As much as I love their music, Pink Floyd was terribly wrong.

We DO need education.

Although I am pretty sure the underlying intent to their classic hit “Another Brick in the Wall” was to protest against the perceived tyrannical nature of big government, there still stands a need to clarify; if poverty could be broadly defined as the depravity of opportunity, than education is at the heart of alleviating poverty.

Before explaining this assertion, something first needs to be said. I firmly believe that when answering such subjective and opinionated questions as this, we all must recognize the role that our experience and environment play. Personally, in the limited experience that I have had in social entrepreneurship and development, the benefits of education and the lack thereof has stood out as the most pressing issue. Could I be wrong? Maybe. But is there even a wrong answer? I would say no.

Now back to WHY I believe education is the most important issue. In regards to my trip to Uganda this past summer, I had many different motivations. I’ve never really been interested in working with a Non-profit, but I really wanted to see how one worked, both the positives and the negatives. Included in that, I also really wanted to experience for myself the bottom of the pyramid. Having served my mission in Japan, one of the most technologically developed countries in the world, I had never experienced longer than a few days what the developing world was like. I came in with as few preconceived expectations as I could, for I just wanted to soak in everything as it really is, and not how I thought I would see it.

To try and summarize something that probably shouldn’t be summarized too much, I left Uganda with a few strong impressions. The first impression I received was how happy, faithful, and positive the average person was about life. To not inappropriately mitigate the reality of poverty, most people had the basic necessities, or at least knew how to access them. The second was how much education was valued, for it was seen as the key to breaking out of the low-income, manual-labor poverty cycle. When asked what the difference between a sugar-cane farmer and a business owner was, the immediate response was education. The certificate that you could receive after graduating from secondary school or even a short month-long course was as good as gold to them, for it was the ticket to a higher-paying, more exciting job in the future. Gaining an education not only gives them the capacity to earn more money, but it also gave them a level of self-confidence and achievement that cannot be equaled. Seeing the look on our students’ faces when we handed them their certificate at the graduation ceremony was an experience I’ll never forget.

I believe some type of education is at the root of all achievement, and therefore everyone needs, or rather deserves, an education.