The Impact of Quality and Accessible Education in Developing Countries
It is self-evident and axiomatic that fundamental, foundational education is important throughout the world — not just to preserve quality of life standards, but to elevate them and pave the way for a better, stronger and safer future. However, the role of quality and accessible education in the developing world is even more pronounced, because of the enormous impact it has in three critical and integrated areas: economic growth, public health and ecological sustainability.
As noted by the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, the return on investment of human capital (i.e. education and training) is more than 400 percent higher than the return on investment for produced capital, and 1500 percent higher than the value of natural capital.
James Hauschildt, the founder of non-profit organization Global Education Ministries Foundation that financially supports individuals serving on mission trips in the developing world, notes that the link between investing in people and investing in communities, and ultimately in countries and regions, is unmistakable and profound. It is an unarguable validation of the adage that when people are given a fish, they get a meal. But when they are taught how to fish, they get a livelihood.
The direct connection between education and income — both on a personal/family level, and on a regional/national level — is not the only link. There is also a clear association between better education and improved health outcomes. UNESCO’s 2015 Incheon Declaration established that education develops the values, skills and attitudes that enable citizen to lead healthier lives.
James Hauschildt states that while access to quality education is vital across all populations and groups, it is especially critical for girls and women. Statistics show that in the developing world, children whose mothers can read are 50 percent more likely to survive to age five than children whose mothers cannot read.
Much of the developing world is on the vanguard of global climate change, as weather patterns and cycles that have been reliable for centuries are replaced by unpredictable extremes of torrential rains and droughts. At the same time, population explosion, widespread industrialization and urbanization combine to create dangerously poor levels of ambient air quality. While education is obviously not the only factor pursuit of ecological sustainability, it is certainly a big piece of the puzzle.
According to James Hauschildt, education targets ecological excess and imbalance on two concurrent levels. He further states that the first is the level of behavior, as individuals, families, and communities better understand their role and impact on the ecosystem. The second is the level of policy, as leaders and officials engage an informed citizenry that is more amenable to rules that reward ecologically responsible decisions and punish those that make ecologically irresponsible or harmful decisions. Without an educated population, these policies are abstract and auxiliary, and have little if any chance of having an impact.
James Hauschildt’s Final Thoughts
Access to quality education is vital — and a basic human right — around the world. However, the potential gains and benefits in the developing world are profound.
James Hauschildt concludes by stating, with a combination of political will and citizen engagement, there is hope that, in time, the distinction between the developed world and developing world will be a historical episode, rather than an ongoing reality.