Human beings are unique in the context that 90% of our human brain growth takes place outside the womb in our external environment, almost all in the first three to five years of life. This is the most important period in an individual’s life and is greatly influenced by care-providers’ cultures, societies and educational systems. As humans, we are wired to learn from other members of our group, particularly at first from those closest to us. Like our ancestors, we start life by imitating those with whom we have the closest bonds: our mothers and caregivers. With time, we learn, evolve and thrive.
“I will never be the artist I was as a child.”Willa Cather
Education starts from the moment we are born, and it is a lifelong endeavor, we are always learning. Starting from birth through preschool (0–5 years) is the first optimal period for human brain development. During this time period, we are capable of learning and developing rapidly; we develop our senses, our motor skills sharpen and we develop language and social behaviors. By age six, the brain is already 95% of its adult size.
Early childhood is the most crucial time for building a strong foundation of an individual’s character by positive intervention. Major factors that influences the development of young children during their early years is their environment, which keeps shaping their personality for many years. The quality of education provided to a child in his/her primary years plays an important role; the rest of a child’s educational years rely on its success. Completing the primary years of education enables children to contribute to society and develop critical skills they need to succeed later in life; lack of it can restrict the fate of nations, denying them of the human capital expected to reduce inequalities instead of promoting peace and a prosperous society.
For children who do have access, there are factors that diminish the quality of education they are getting. Poorly trained educators, overcrowded environments at schools, and insufficient curricula diminish the quality of their experiences. Inability to provide quality schooling limits children’s access to opportunities to reach their maximum potential. In under-developed nations, the statistics are even worse, with just 1 out of 5 children going to school for their primary education. Despite all the efforts, there are countries that have literacy rates below 50% among the youth.
Statistical analysis of the access to quality primary education worldwide
1. 9.3 million new teachers are needed to achieve universal primary education
2. Only 50% of primary teachers in low-income countries are trained
3. Only 5% of primary teachers globally work in low-income countries
Why must universal access to primary education be a global priority for nations?
1. Quality primary education sets a strong foundation for learning.
2. Universal primary education helps make education systems more effective and efficient.
3. Equitable primary education is an effective strategy for promoting economic growth.
What should governments do to ensure universal primary education for all?
1. Invest in quality education projects
The education sector has been estimated to be responsible for the highest return on investment. Yet, it gets only a small share of funds from governments.
2. Progressively grow the network of primary education system, while improving quality
Efforts to scale up access to primary education should not come at the expense of quality. Quality comprises many factors, including teachers, families, resources, communities, and curricula being taught. Without adequate checks for quality, expansion efforts can intensify education inequities among the underdeveloped communities. It is only by expanding the networks to provide primary education while working to maintain the quality standards that we can achieve our goal.
3. Ensure that everyone has fair access to the resources
Access to early childhood education has been difficult and inequitable, both across and within countries. Worldwide, underprivileged children are disproportionately excluded from quality primary education; either due to low family income or lack of access. To ensure no child is left behind, governments should create and support initiatives that commit to universal primary education and prioritize the poorest and hardest-to-reach children at the start of the road to universality.
How can you help?
- By committing to promoting quality primary education through advocacy, communication and donations to underprivileged projects or children around you.
- By strengthening policies and advocating for increased public awareness regarding primary education through voting.
- By enhancing the quality of primary education programs by supporting the development of quality standards, universal curricular frameworks, teacher training packages and more.
- By collecting data and generating evidence for innovative approaches that deliver quality primary education for children in remote areas and sharing with your local governor or statesman.
We need a global effort to tackle the education crisis head on. Together, we can help every child gain basic educational skills and unlock their potential. Too many children around the world still cannot afford to go to school. An even larger proportion of children who are in schools, are not getting the quality education they deserve. We, at ZamZam Foundation, have a number of on-going projects that address the cause and help needy children have better access to educational facilities in remote areas of the world. For more details on these projects, visit our website.