No matter what global problem you are dreading, whether it’s the elimination of poverty, whether it’s the creation of peace, whether its solving environmental energy problems, the solution- whatever it is- multiple solutions, the solutions always include education, never is it without an education component and sometimes cannot be done without education.
– Nicholas Negroponte
Growing up, my parents constantly affirmed, “Education is the passport to the world of opportunities.” I believed them, and I still do. As a teacher today, I tell my students the same thing.
In a privileged country like Singapore, education is a determined right of all citizens. The moment we step into Primary One, an EduSave account is set up in the student’s name by the government. Every year thereafter until the students reaches the age of sixteen, SGD 200 is credited into the account annually. The fund can be used by the student to pay for tuition fees and any other government-approved co-curricular activities and school trips. As of 2015, according to Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development, Singapore tops the global school ranking.
This is all well and good for the small city-state. My bigger concern today is, how do we get this world-recognised education to every student on the planet, especially when we constantly demand that education is a basic human right. How is it possible that in today’s globalised and technologically advanced world, that the right to education is based on a handful of pre-determined factors? Factors that include; where the child was born, their ethnic affiliations and even what their last name is.
Currently, more than 124 million children and adolescents are out of school. UNESCO predicts that this number is on the rise. This is a clear indication that the system we have in place, is not working and must be changed.
It is time to rethink the system because obviously, the global education system we have set for ourselves no longer serves today’s world. If we continue to demand from governments whose priority is not their citizen’s education, then, we must acknowledge that a clear violation of a right has occurred and must be amended.
It is time to hand out those passports in order that all children, regardless of their race, nationality, place of birth, or social creed, get access to a basic primary education. We, as the youths and adults, have the obligation to at least do one thing right – to provide our children, the future of the world, with opportunities to make this planet a better place.