Why is education important and how does it affect one’s future?

Updated Aug 08, 2022
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes education as a legal right of every child. Yet education remains a privilege to many. UNESCO data shows that 258 million children and youth were out of school for the school year ending in 2018. Of that total, more than 129 million were girls and 58 million were of primary school age.

Among those fortunate to have access to education, on the other hand, more than 617 million children and adolescents do not have minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.
  1. What is education?
  2. Why is education important?
  3. What are the different types of education?
  4. What are the benefits of education?
  5. What does World Vision do to make education more accessible for girls and boys?
1. What is education?
Education is the process where an individual acquires or imparts basic knowledge to another. It is also where a person:
  • develops skills essential to daily living,
  • learns social norms,
  • develops judgment and reasoning, and
  • learns how to discern right from wrong.
The ultimate goal of education is to help an individual navigate life and contribute to society once they become older.

There are various types of education but typically, traditional schooling dictates the way one’s education success is measured. People who attended school and attained a higher level of education are considered more employable and likely to earn more.

In developing, low-income countries, for example, there is a projected 10 per cent increase in a person’s future income for every additional year of education.

Education helps eradicate poverty and hunger, giving people the chance at better lives. This is one of the biggest reasons why parents strive to make their kids attend school as long as possible. It is also why nations work toward promoting easier access to education for both children and adults.

A male teacher stands in front of a class, teaching mathematics to pupils.
Household food insecurity is a common problem in Somalia and is identified as a reason for student absenteeism. Many families are pastoralists, moving around where the food source is, especially during periods of drought. It becomes difficult for their children to attend school regularly. Photo: Gwayi Patrick
2. Why is education important?
There are plenty of reasons why education is important. Generally speaking, they all tie closely to a person’s goals in life and to their future well-being. Below are some of the other most common reasons education is so important:
  • Education helps a person hone their communication skills by learning how to read, write, speak and listen.
  • Education develops critical thinking. This is vital in teaching a person how to use logic when making decisions and interacting with people (e.g., boosting creativity, enhancing time management).
  • Education helps an individual meet basic job qualifications and makes them more likely to secure better jobs.
  • Education promotes gender equality and helps empower girls and women. A World Bank report found that an extra year of schooling for girls reduces teen pregnancy rates by six per cent and gave women more control over how many children they have.
  • Education reduces child mortality. According to UNESCO, a child born to a mother who can read is 50 per cent more likely to survive past the age of five.

Students using a tablet computer inside a classroom.
A student from a primary school in Rwanda tries using a tablet computer in class. Many World Vision programs introduce technology into classrooms and youth training centres. Photo: Charity Beza Uwase
3. What are the different types of education?
Education is typically divided into three categories: formal education, informal education, and non-formal education.

Formal education
Formal education is the type that is typically conducted in a classroom setting in an academic institution. This is where students are taught basic skills such as reading and writing, as well as more advanced academic lessons.

Also known as ‘formal learning’, it usually begins in elementary school and culminates in post-secondary education. It is provided by qualified teachers or professors and follows a curriculum.

Informal education
Informal education, on the other hand, is the type that is done outside the premises of an academic institution. Often, this is when a person learns skills or acquires knowledge from home, when visiting libraries, or browsing educational websites through a device. Learning from the elders in one’s community can also be an important form of informal education.

Such education is often not planned or deliberate, nor does it follow a regimented timetable or a specific curriculum. It is spontaneous and may also be described as a natural form of education.

Non-formal education
Non-formal education has qualities similar to both formal and informal education. It follows a timetable and is systemically implemented but not necessarily conducted within a school system. It is flexible in terms of time and curriculum and normally does not have an age limit.

The most common examples of non-formal education include community-based courses, vocational training or short programs that are not facilitated by professional instructors.

A female student learns carpentry using a machine.
A female student in Lebanon learns carpentry, a skill often associated with men. Education of all kinds empower girls and women in their communities. Photo: Maria Bou Chaaya
4. What are the benefits of education?
If all students in low-income countries acquired basic reading skills before leaving school, entire societies could change dramatically. According to UNESCO, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. But education isn’t just about living above the poverty line. It’s about quality of life, choices at work, and many other benefits, as listed below.

Developing problem-solving skills
The schooling system teaches a person how to make their own decisions by developing critical and logical thinking skills. This prepares children for adulthood when both big and small decisions become a constant part of their daily lives.

For example: coming up with solutions to challenges in the community or planning how to provide for a family.

Self-reliance and empowerment
Knowing how to read, write and do arithmetic is empowering. When a person can read, they can access endless learning and information. When they can calculate expenses and make a budget, they can start a small business. Paired with the ability to form opinions, literacy makes a person become more self-reliant, and gives them confidence.

Promoting equality among individuals
In an ideal world, there is no room for discrimination due to race, gender, religion, social class, or level of literacy. This is where the value of education comes to play. Through education, one can develop strong, well-considered opinions – and learn to respect the views of others. Many experts agree that education is a significant contributor to peace in societies.

Stability and financial security
A person’s income is often linked to his or her educational attainment. Around the world, there are more employment opportunities for those who complete high school, earn a degree, diploma or certificate, or go on to post-graduate studies. These can also mean higher salaries.

Economic growth (as a nation)
An educated population is important in building a nation’s economy. According to studies, countries with the highest literacy rates are more likely to make progress in human and economic development. National economic growth begins with individual economic growth, which is often linked back to education.

In Canada, 70 per cent of jobs have a college-level reading skill requirement. A separate report also found that individuals with lower literacy skills are more likely to be unemployed.

Giving back to the community
Once children are educated, they have more ways to make a difference in their communities. Many of the children we serve at World Vision have dreams of making a difference as teachers, doctors, or as part of the government.

Side profile of a child holding a toy kit.
Elementary students from Papua New Guinea now have toy kits for recreation time at school. Play helps children solve problems, develop creativity and work as a team. Photo: Nelson Kairi Kurukuru
5. What does World Vision do to make education more accessible for girls and boys?
One of World Vision’s objectives is to make education accessible for girls and boys around the world. We see it as an effective tool to promote sustainable growth for children, their families and the communities that we support.

In 2021, donors sponsored 344,800 children across 41 countries through World Vision Canada alone. Many of these children are now benefitting from formal education. At least 110,290 children attended in-school or after-school literacy activities, while 144,546 reading materials were provided to schools and communities.

A female teacher helps girls and boys learn how to read.
Rosemiah, a young teacher in the Philippines, helps children improve their reading skills through a program called the Culture of Reading. Photo: Ramon Lucas Jimenez

What sponsorship does

Improves reading skills among children in Nepal

In Nepal, programs like Unlock Literacy improve the reading skills and comprehension of children and increase the number of children reading at home. Unlock Literacy is one of World Vision Canada’s core programs funded by sponsorship donations. It aims to increase the reading skills of children in the early grades of primary school by training teachers and engaging students, families and communities in reading activities.

Govinda, a native of the Kailali district of Nepal, was privileged enough to have learned how to read when he was younger. Now working as an enumerator for the government census, he is proud of how much his community has benefited from the Unlock Literacy program.

A group of girls in blue uniforms forming a circle while playing.
A group of female students having fun on school grounds while other students look on. Photo: Nissi Thapa

“Last time there were only one or two readers out of the twenty students we assessed. This time every child except one was a reader. I am so happy today. This is my area. I come from here,” Govinda shares.

Not only does it help children remain motivated to learn while in the classroom. It has also had a positive impact on gender equity within the community. Through Unlock Literacy, Tharu girls, one of Nepal’s indigenous people, are able to bridge the divide between Nepalese and their native Tharu language. It also helped strengthen literacy in their homes so that girls are no longer being left behind.

Gives students a chance at a brighter future in El Salvador

In Jubileo, El Salvador, the youth are faced with the prospect of not being able to earn high school diplomas because the local school could only provide education up to Grade 9. Attending high school outside the community was also not an option due to gang violence.

Female students inside a computer laboratory at school.
Students at a school in El Salvador get the opportunity to learn how to use a computer.

Through the generosity of Canadian donors, World Vision was able to provide ten computer units to the school. It’s a vital contribution to the community, especially in improving the technical skills of students, which is essential in many fields of work.

“We are satisfied and grateful for the ten computers our school received,” says Daniel, one of the students. “This support will allow us to fulfill our dreams and meet the high school course requirements set out by the Ministry of Education.”

Making education more accessible and enjoyable in Lebanon

When the pandemic hit, children were forced to stay at home and participate in remote learning – away from peers, left in need of educational materials, and challenged by the unique setup. The experience is particularly new for girls and boys who were just introduced to the concept of schooling. For many of them, the idea of learning from home is lonely and difficult.

To provide young students the opportunity of getting uninterrupted education during the pandemic, World Vision Lebanon made changes to its Early Childhood Education (ECE) program. Every week, they would distribute new learning materials to children enrolled in the program, allowing children to continue their education despite constant connectivity issues and other challenges at home. They are also given stationery and colouring materials to make learning more enjoyable.

A boy smiles while lying on the floor, colouring illustrations on paper.
Hassan, a five-year-old student enrolled in World Vision Lebanon’s Early Childhood Program, has learned to enjoy remote learning with the help of his new learning materials. Photo: Maria Bou Chaaya

Hassan, a five-year-old boy enrolled in the ECE program, eagerly awaits the weekly sessions. His mother, Kafiya, is thankful for the opportunity given to him.

“The benefits of remote learning are giving the child a choice to study at the moment or not. Sometimes Hassan gets confused and distracted, so his teacher moves to another student to give him time to focus and then comes back to him,” Kafiya shares.

Unlocks the joy of new skills in Rwanda

Reading is a life skill that plays a vital role in the future of a child. Yet, there are students whose education is plagued by a lack of reading comprehension. Jolly, a nine-year-old student from Akagera, Rwanda, is one of them. Despite being able to attend school, she finds reading difficult and is unable to understand her lessons.

A girl happily reading a book to a younger boy.
Jolly finds joy in being able to read stories to her younger brother after being part of World Vision’s Unlock Literacy program. Photo: Maria Kaitesi

Through World Vision’s Unlock Literacy program, reading camps were introduced in Jolly’s community, where she learned to pray, sing, draw, write, and most of all, read. From being a very shy student who didn’t enjoy school, Jolly now excels in her studies. She is also able to read stories to her little brother.

“I have learned how to read perfectly through the reading camp sessions. I do enjoy reading and these days I am even among the top five in my class,” Jolly shares.