Education is one of the most important aspects of life as it provides us with countless opportunities and teaches us about important subjects and skills that we can later on apply to our own life or work. People and advocates fight for the right to education, especially for the underprivileged. However, what most people do not realize is that education systems around the world are inherently flawed. In every country, there is a range of inequities that groups of people suffer from due to discrepancies in income and discrimination based on race, gender, religion and more. This affects the access to and the quality of education these groups receive. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the inequality gap, making education even more inaccessible than it was before 2020. Furthermore, in school, students do not learn about skills or content that would actually be helpful in life, such as how to do taxes, budget or career planning. Education systems and national curriculums should be reformed to be more beneficial and worthwhile to students and to be more accessible for everyone.
Inequity forms the bulk of the problem when it comes to education. Even though education is mandatory around the world in first-world and developed countries, this is not the case for developing countries. In developing countries, only the wealthy have the opportunity to receive an education. Most children, particularly those living in poverty, spend their days working and do not go to schools. Additionally, children from minority groups are deprived from receiving an education simply because of their minority identity. Making education accessible to every child, regardless of race, religion, gender, etc., should be at the forefront of every developing country’s development plan. Being educated opens doors for children and could even lift them out of the poverty cycle.
Furthermore, inequity between income groups has given rise to a growing gap in college attainment. Low-income people cannot afford to pursue a tertiary education because college fees are so expensive, especially the highest-ranked universities. This means that it is incredibly difficult for lower-income people to reach their full potential. The only ways around this are scholarships, but they are not widely offered and hard to receive, and student loans, but people spend decades trying to pay them off. These days, almost all jobs require some kind of degree or certification, so tertiary education is important. A good education is being denied to millions of people simply because of their income and/or race. Lower college fees, enabling more students to further pursue their education, would produce a society more capable of making positive change. An equitable education system could also close the income gap and improve economic growth.
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic increasing the inequality gap between income groups, the education system has become more flawed not only for lower-income students, who have had to bear much of the burden, but also for the majority of students who are now studying remotely. Approximately 120 countries around the world had to close schools in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, forcing children to stay at home and virtually attend classes. This severely disrupted learning as teachers had to quickly accommodate online teaching and finding new resources outside of the classroom without much warning, while students were confined to studying at home with new distractions all around them. Because the education system became so reliant on technology during this period, those staying in low-income households with limited access to WiFi have been subject to hardship. The pandemic has made the wealth gap more evident through the ways that students are dealing with remote learning.
The education system itself is flawed because it follows a very rigid structure and the curriculum foregoes teaching students about life skills and crucial information. The current curriculum is designed to teach students about conforming to the status quo, thereby dulling and discouraging curiosity. Historically, the organization of the education system was set up to reinforce hierarchy, status and obedience. In schools, students are taught information that they regurgitate in a test-based approach of learning in an attempt to prepare them for the workforce. But to what extent is this productive in teaching people how to operate in the workplace? Life lessons are not taught in school – students graduate from school without knowing how to do their taxes, how banking works or how to budget. These are vital life lessons that are crucial for everyone to know, but some students have to find out the hard way. While there is no doubt that the skills we learn in school are useful for careers (such as critical thinking, writing, public speaking, working collaboratively), the majority of the content that students learn will not actually help them for the future and follows a very traditional way of thinking that could come across as outdated. Teaching life skills would be much more beneficial than being forced to extensively study subjects students have no use for or interest in.
Reforms in the curriculum and making the education system more equitable would have long-lasting consequences not only on the individuals themselves but also society. Individuals would be able to increase their employability and society would benefit from having a population that embraces their maximum potential, which could be reflected in the positive change being made and economic growth. Making education more accessible for everyone as a basic right could also lessen the wealth gap. Teaching students life skills in school would be a more productive use of time. However, it may be a long time before any changes are made to the education system as it is not currently a pressing issue for many countries.