I often get a sudden heartbreak each time I am reading a story set in Africa in which a kid has to drop out of school because the parents can no longer afford to pay the school fees. And no I am not talking about the easily recognized poor, warring or failed states but countries that are rich enough to send satellites to space, host very colourful international pageants, and boast of a wide range of natural resources. This ought to be scandalous!
The good news is that most people whether they live in the deep countryside or in the big cities appreciate the importance of basic education, and often sacrifice a lot to get their children the best of it. A lot of private establishments have taken up the challenge by offering a wide range of variety seeing that people are very much willing to pay for quality education.
When things go sour is when a kid is unfortunate to be born into a struggling family. How do governments and schools feel about expelling a young child from school for not affording to pay? What is the fate of a child thrown out of school for such a reason? Shouldn’t the society as a whole take responsibility for this? Why should a child ever have to worry about how his basic education is financed?
You could argue that there are other basic needs that have to be met first such as food, shelter and security. True! The difference however is that a kid living in the vicinity of a state school and willing to attend is turned back for no fault of his/hers! It is often not the scarcity of education ,whatever the quality, that is the problem here but its denial. Very often, kids are expelled because they cannot afford the appropriate uniforms or textbooks. The very concept of having to expel a child from school would be hard to comprehend in some parts of the world.
While I agree that higher education should be a matter of choice and affordability. After all, you don’t need it to be successful. Basic education should not only be free but mandatory! It should be a right. It’s high time governments started addressing their priorities or getting people to contribute into the common purse for free basic education. It is OK for those who can afford it to get the best private education but no child should be left behind with the basics.
Basic education is not about getting certified. It’s a window to the world. When people acquire these skills, they can develop on their own being able to read and write. What modern basic education should emphasise is a topic for another day. However, it must reflect the present local and global circumstances.
It’s fair that the present focus of the world leaders is on enough food for all. However, I believe that free basic education for all will make the provision of food for all really sustainable.