Early philosophers, Aristotle and Plato testified to the fact that education brings significant benefits not only to the individual, but also to the society as a whole. Unfortunately, many people are not willing to pay the price of getting it. Outside the work place, education empowers one to think differently and makes one question or even drop some deep-rooted cultural practices and society norms without fear of being ostracised.
The downside of not being educated is grave. If someone is uneducated, chances are high that they may remain primitive, backward, petty, rigid and retrogressive in their thinking. To them as long as they have the basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing as stated in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, they see no reason for pursuing further education to achieve a higher quality of life.
When you are not educated you are only assigned menial jobs in the workplace as these do not require critical thinking to be done. Unfortunately, these menial jobs earn very little income. Illiteracy or low level of education limits ones productivity due to mental limitations in making decisions quickly. Although they might have real wisdom in some cases, it is actually difficult for the professional field to trust wisdom of an illiterate person.
The uneducated are also a liability to any nation as their upkeep is forever maintained using taxes of those educated which are usually fewer in number. Africa is also suspected to be underdeveloped due to the fact that the minds of its leaders are not fully developed with knowledge. On the international front, an uneducated nation has no bargaining power to secure the best trade deals as they are bound to lack negotiation skills attainable only through the education process.
If truth be told, the educated have a compelling force around them, commanding attention of all those consciously or unconsciously seeking knowledge from an informed mind. The educated are easily trusted with high levels of positions in the workplace. These positions involve quick decision-making and critical thinking. It is no wonder then that those learned also earn a lot more money and have easy access to better medical care than the uneducated.
But why is it that many people prefer ignorance to knowledge? It is a painful truth that lack of role models in the backyard can keep one from getting education as there is no reference point to emulate from. Parents, who are rich or poor, educated or not must consistently flag up to their children, role models whose lives have changed due to education. At national level, for example, where government is currently pursuing an agenda to educate the girl child, a ‘catalogue or memoir of women’ working in high positions in both the public and private sector could be included as class room case studies through primary and secondary school curriculums. The ‘memoirs’ then would provide a reference point and inspire some girls living in the remotest parts of Malawi. A similar memoir of well accomplished men could also be compiled to inspire young men.
Sheer laziness coupled with lack of vision is also a major obstacle to getting education. Education requires hard-work, discipline and determination as one is oftentimes required to sacrifice sleep and even friends to spend time studying. If one is short-sighted and casual in their approach to life, they will not pursue education as they are not self-motivated or persuaded enough to pay the price. Such people would prefer to keep the status quo and remain in their comfort zone. However, they shall sooner or later discover that the challenges of remaining uneducated are hard to bear.
Success stories of few people, who made it big without much education such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, John D. Rockefeller and Mark Zuckerberg are but rare cases which cannot be referred to as excuses for not pursuing higher levels of education. n