What sparked this post was a question that popped into my head; when does something change from a belief to a result of miseducation? As an English teacher I come in contact with a lot of adult students from around the world with varying opinions and thoughts. Just this week we looked at materialism and what we really need in order to survive. The list is fairly generic; water, food, shelter, medicine, clothes, education and electricity, usually ranked in that order. What surprises me is how low education is placed. Education is the foundation of survival in my opinion. Obviously I agree that food and water rank first but seeing education falling below medicine shocked me. Surely in even the most minimal of societies being educated in basic medical practices is important.
In 2012 UNICEF stated that all children must have access to free primary school education but this is far from reality even now in 2017. Lack of education in developing countries is closely linked to young marriages, high birth rates and risks of exploitation. Whilst in Vietnam I learned of the perception that the women there get married rather young and more often than not do not continue on to 3rd level education. Interestingly enough I got to see first hand the vast differences in education in just Vietnam alone. While it is still quite common for women in the countryside to get married early, getting married in the city before completing a university education is no longer the norm resulting in more and more women putting education first.
Statistics show that just under 50% of people aged 18 years and under on the continent of Africa are literate. My original musings on the topic of beliefs versus lack of education was sparked by an article on people thought to be vampires being hunted in Malawi. However that’s not to point the finger at poor education in the third world. The most horrify story of stupidity for me is the “bleach cures autism” movement commonly practised in first world countries such as Ireland. The absurdity of stories like this make me question where exactly things are going wrong? With so many influencers and educators in a person’s life there’s always going to be room for contradictions but how do we convey what is considered “right” to people when myths and urban legends continue to dominate?