Armed conflict in developing countries, combined with poverty and starvation, leave no room for proper funding of education. Yet education, especially low-cost private education, might be the answer in providing affordable yet quality education in the developing world and end up by helping to eliminate the conflict and poverty often present in many regions.
Dr. Pauline Dixon, Senior Lecturer in International Development and Education at Newcastle University, UK, asserts in her book “International Aid And Private Schools For The Poor” that the solution to providing education to impoverished, conflict-ridden countries is to make the switch from state-run education to privately run, low-cost schools.
UNESCO, the UN’s organization for Education, Science and Culture, suggests that education is the key to providing tangible skills to impoverished youth. Education is what allows people to cope with an often harsh reality, understand the absurdity of conflict, and seek ways to offer themselves and their families better life choices. Education can encompass a variety of skills, from sexual education to learning to be self-sustaining as farmers, and even to entrepreneurship attempts.
Dr. Dixon advocates that lack of education is why children are so readily engaging in armed conflict. As she explains in a recent article at WorldReview.info, armed conflict is a result of the lack of education; people fight one another in the street not in battlefields because they don’t possess the critical skills to understand what’s really to their benefit.
Her painstaking research in the educational system of India suggests that state-run schools are bleeding resources due to improper money management and insufficient, underperforming school systems. Exposing the insufficiency of state-run schools, Dr. Pauline Dixon wishes to warn educators, policymakers and organizations about the current problems, and inform them about the alternative solutions to state schooling that currently exist and are more results-oriented.
Her research is carefully backed by census data, surveys and assessments of low-cost, for-profit schools that prove to be the alternative, best solution for educating the poor. Privately held schools have solid, transparent and efficient management, the three necessary pillars for providing smoothly running and decent education for the poor.
The apparent lack of education and literacy doesn’t stem solely from insufficient education funding. What’s excruciatingly aggravating the situation is that millions of dollars are wasted in poor management and funneled away by corrupt officers who don’t make good use of the financial resources available. The result is that state-run schools use dated, insufficient approaches, letting millions of education funding dollars go to waste, and not giving impoverished communities what they need the most: education that equips them with tools to cope with and overcome their poverty.
Showing how it all starts from education, Dr. Dixon explains the reasons why uneducated parents cannot offer their children a better future. She emphasizes in particular that educating young girls means offering them a better life as mothers and as individuals. An educated woman is more likely to have fewer children, offer those children better nutrition and culture, and encourage them to receive education themselves. Once activated, the cycle of education will have a long-lasting effect in transforming the developing world.
Lack of education makes young impoverished people more prone to propaganda and more easily swayed to engage in conflict and acts of violence. Basic literacy skills such as reading and writing open up a window of opportunity for conflict-shaken communities. Such skills allow young people to make informed decisions, develop critical thinking, and build a worldview and mentality that’s not easily malleable.
Dr. Dixon proposes a private, for-profit educational system in impoverished sub-Saharan countries, India, and other conflict-afflicted countries. Education is what will get children out of poverty. Giving them the skills and tools to provide from themselves seems a much better use of funding rather than just giving them food.
Based on her research, Dr. Dixon asserts that low-cost private schools are on the rise and that initial findings suggest how efficient this approach can be. She mentions, for instance, the growing popularity of this education model in India, where 6 out of 10 students attend low-cost, privately-run schools at the moment.
The key is keeping private school education low-cost. This way parents are more interested in and likely to send their child to a private school, as there’s the general impression that private schools offer more than state-run ones.
While laws and other bureaucratic hindrances still hold this education model back, initiatives from social venture companies seek to remedy this grim image by offering loans and experts to help run these private schools efficiently and sustainably.
While this will be a slow process, there’s hope and tangible proof that a privately-run education system model is what will allow millions of impoverished children access to education and the ability to use it to protect themselves from the dangers of poverty, starvation and disease.
Food can ease their stomach, but education will show them how to find sustainable solutions for feeding themselves and their families long into the future. Education will make teenagers realize joining a gang won’t provide security for their family but put them all in greater danger. Education is what will let young girls understand how to protect themselves from HIV and avoid sexual activities that would put their and their children’s health at risk.