Essay on Importance of Education for Students

500 words essay on importance of education.

To say Education is important is an understatement. Education is a weapon to improve one’s life. It is probably the most important tool to change one’s life. Education for a child begins at home. It is a lifelong process that ends with death. Education certainly determines the quality of an individual’s life. Education improves one’s knowledge, skills and develops the personality and attitude. Most noteworthy, Education affects the chances of employment for people. A highly educated individual is probably very likely to get a good job. In this essay on importance of education, we will tell you about the value of education in life and society.

essay on importance of education

Importance of Education in Life

First of all, Education teaches the ability to read and write. Reading and writing is the first step in Education. Most information is done by writing. Hence, the lack of writing skill means missing out on a lot of information. Consequently, Education makes people literate.

Above all, Education is extremely important for employment. It certainly is a great opportunity to make a decent living. This is due to the skills of a high paying job that Education provides. Uneducated people are probably at a huge disadvantage when it comes to jobs. It seems like many poor people improve their lives with the help of Education.

essay about education matters

Better Communication is yet another role in Education. Education improves and refines the speech of a person. Furthermore, individuals also improve other means of communication with Education.

Education makes an individual a better user of technology. Education certainly provides the technical skills necessary for using technology . Hence, without Education, it would probably be difficult to handle modern machines.

People become more mature with the help of Education. Sophistication enters the life of educated people. Above all, Education teaches the value of discipline to individuals. Educated people also realize the value of time much more. To educated people, time is equal to money.

Finally, Educations enables individuals to express their views efficiently. Educated individuals can explain their opinions in a clear manner. Hence, educated people are quite likely to convince people to their point of view.

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Importance of Education in Society

First of all, Education helps in spreading knowledge in society. This is perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Education. There is a quick propagation of knowledge in an educated society. Furthermore, there is a transfer of knowledge from generation to another by Education.

Education helps in the development and innovation of technology. Most noteworthy, the more the education, the more technology will spread. Important developments in war equipment, medicine , computers, take place due to Education.

Education is a ray of light in the darkness. It certainly is a hope for a good life. Education is a basic right of every Human on this Planet. To deny this right is evil. Uneducated youth is the worst thing for Humanity. Above all, the governments of all countries must ensure to spread Education.

FAQs on Essay on Importance of Education

Q.1 How Education helps in Employment?

A.1 Education helps in Employment by providing necessary skills. These skills are important for doing a high paying job.

Q.2 Mention one way in Education helps a society?

A.2 Education helps society by spreading knowledge. This certainly is one excellent contribution to Education.

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Essay on Education

Here we have shared the Essay on Education in detail so you can use it in your exam or assignment of 150, 250, 400, 500, or 1000 words.

You can use this Essay on Education in any assignment or project whether you are in school (class 10th or 12th), college, or preparing for answer writing in competitive exams. 

Topics covered in this article.

Essay on Education in 150 words

Essay on education in 250-300 words, essay on education in 500-1000 words.

Education is the key to personal growth, social development, and societal progress. It encompasses formal education provided through schools and institutions, as well as informal and lifelong learning. Education equips individuals with the essential knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to navigate the complexities of life and contribute meaningfully to society.

Education empowers individuals, fostering critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. It promotes social mobility, reduces poverty, and fosters social cohesion. Through education, individuals develop the ability to make informed decisions, overcome challenges, and fulfill their potential.

Furthermore, education is a catalyst for positive change. It encourages individuals to question the status quo, explore new ideas, and contribute to the betterment of society. By investing in education, we invest in the future, equipping individuals with the necessary skills to address global challenges, drive innovation, and build a more inclusive and sustainable world.

Education is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, regardless of gender, socioeconomic background, or geographical location. It is through education that we can create a more equitable, prosperous, and harmonious society.

Education is the cornerstone of personal and societal development. It equips individuals with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to navigate the complexities of life and contribute meaningfully to society. In its broadest sense, education encompasses formal schooling, informal learning, and lifelong learning.

Formal education, provided through schools and institutions, lays the foundation for intellectual, social, and emotional growth. It imparts essential knowledge, promotes critical thinking, and develops skills that are essential for success in various fields.

However, education goes beyond the classroom. Informal learning occurs through everyday experiences, interactions, and self-directed exploration. It allows individuals to acquire practical skills, adaptability, and a broader understanding of the world.

Lifelong learning is a continuous process that extends beyond formal education. It involves the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth throughout one’s life, enabling individuals to adapt to changing circumstances, embrace new opportunities, and contribute to a dynamic society.

Education empowers individuals, enabling them to overcome challenges, make informed decisions, and fulfill their potential. It plays a vital role in promoting social mobility, reducing poverty, and fostering social cohesion.

Moreover, education fosters critical thinking, creativity, and innovation, which are essential for progress and development. It encourages individuals to question the status quo, explore new ideas, and contribute to positive change.

In conclusion, education is an indispensable tool for personal growth and societal progress. It encompasses formal, informal, and lifelong learning, providing individuals with the knowledge, skills, and mindset necessary to navigate the complexities of life. By investing in education, we invest in the future, empowering individuals and communities to create a better world.

Title: Education – Empowering Minds, Shaping Futures

Introduction :

Education is a powerful tool that empowers individuals, shapes futures, and drives societal progress. It encompasses the acquisition of knowledge, development of skills, and cultivation of values that prepare individuals for personal and professional success. This essay delves into the importance of education, its key elements, and its transformative impact on individuals and societies.

The Power of Education

Education is a transformative force that empowers individuals to reach their full potential. It equips them with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate life’s challenges, make informed decisions, and contribute meaningfully to society. Education cultivates critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving abilities, nurturing well-rounded individuals capable of adapting to a rapidly changing world.

Formal Education

Formal education, provided through schools, colleges, and universities, forms the foundation of a person’s educational journey. It involves structured learning environments, standardized curricula, and certified qualifications. Formal education imparts core subjects such as mathematics, science, languages, and humanities, along with important life skills such as communication, collaboration, and critical analysis.

Informal and Lifelong Learning

Education goes beyond formal settings. Informal learning occurs through daily experiences, interactions, and observations. It includes practical skills acquired through apprenticeships, mentorships, and on-the-job training. Lifelong learning, on the other hand, is a continuous process that extends beyond formal education. It involves self-directed learning, personal development, and the pursuit of knowledge throughout one’s life.

The Role of Education in Society

Education plays a crucial role in social development and progress. It promotes social mobility, empowering individuals to transcend socioeconomic barriers and improve their quality of life. Education fosters social cohesion by nurturing understanding, empathy, and tolerance among diverse groups of individuals. It also contributes to economic growth by producing a skilled workforce, fostering innovation, and driving entrepreneurship.

Education for Personal Development

Education is not merely the acquisition of knowledge; it is also a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. It helps individuals develop their unique talents, interests, and passions. Education cultivates values such as integrity, responsibility, and empathy, shaping individuals into ethical and compassionate members of society. Furthermore, it nurtures self-confidence, self-awareness, and resilience, equipping individuals with the tools to overcome challenges and thrive in a competitive world.

Challenges and Opportunities in Education

Despite the transformative power of education, there are numerous challenges that need to be addressed. Access to quality education remains unequal, particularly for marginalized communities and disadvantaged regions. Gender disparities in education persist, limiting opportunities for girls and women. Furthermore, the rapid advancement of technology necessitates adapting educational systems to prepare individuals for the demands of the digital age.

However, there are also exciting opportunities in education. Technology has the potential to revolutionize learning, making education accessible, interactive, and personalized. Blended learning models, online platforms, and open educational resources offer new avenues for education. Emphasizing holistic education, including social and emotional development, promotes well-rounded individuals capable of addressing complex global challenges.

Conclusion :

Education is a transformative force that empowers individuals, shapes futures, and drives societal progress. It goes beyond formal schooling, encompassing informal and lifelong learning. Education fosters critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving abilities, equipping individuals with the skills to navigate an ever-changing world. It promotes social mobility, social cohesion, and economic growth. Moreover, education is a journey of personal development, nurturing values, skills, and self-awareness. While challenges such as unequal access and gender disparities persist, advancements in technology offer exciting opportunities for innovation and inclusive learning. By investing in education and ensuring equal opportunities for all, societies can unlock the full potential of individuals, leading to a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future.

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Persuasive Essay: Why is Education Important in Our Society?


Education is more than just learning from books, and it is a shame that a lot of schools do not see that it is more than just a curriculum and school score. A good education can teach a child how to learn so that the child may take up independent learning as an adult. Education may also teach a child how to reason so that a child does not grow up to be ignorant.

I will show you the two best reasons why education is important in our society.

Persuasive point 1

The biggest selling point for education in our society is the fact that it helps people learn “how” to learn. It is not about the knowledge they accumulate, it is the way a child is taught how to “learn” things. A child may come away from school not knowing a lot of the course, but if that child has been taught how to learn, then that child may become an adult that learns everything he or she needs in life. Otherwise, that child may grow up to be a person that cannot see the obvious because he or she cannot reason and consciously learn new things.

Persuasive point 2

Education teaches people how to reason, and if they are taught how to reason well, then they help subdue their own thoughts of ignorance. For example, there are lots of posts and websites on the Internet about childhood vaccinations and how dangerous they are. Ignorant people than never learned how to reason will look at them, believe them and support them. If a person is taught how to reason then he or she will know how to recognize empirical evidence.

That person would look at all the people in the US that have had childhood injections (most of them) and then look at all the people with autism. They would reason that if childhood vaccinations caused autism then most of the people in the US would have autism. If a person is taught how to reason then that person may see how people that smoke seem more likely to develop emphysema than people that do not smoke. They would then reason there is a link between smoking and emphysema. This sort of reasoning can be taught in schools, and if children are not taught it then they walk around risking their children’s lives by not vaccinating them, and walk around smoking because their daddy smoked for years and it never hurt him.

If education is not seen as important, then one day it will just be all about school scores and hitting the factors of a curriculum. There will be a day when children start to hate learning because school put them off it for life (this already happens in some cases). Plus, without education teaching people how to reason things out and teaching them how to separate what is fact from what is faulty evidence, then our society will become more and more ignorant until a smarter country simply marches over and takes our country from under out ignorant noses.

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Why Is Education So Important in The Quest for Equality?

Gerald Nelson | April 14, 2022 | Leave a Comment

essay about education matters

Image: Pikist

Education is vital. We can all agree on this but where we fall out of the agreement is why exactly education is so necessary for equality. Without education, there can be no progress, no development, and no improvement. 

In today’s world, we are ever more aware of the issues surrounding sexism, racism, and inequality, allowing for a greater understanding of the importance of educating people to avoid these biases occurring in the first place.

What is Educational Equality and why is it necessary? 

Equality isn’t always so simple. Some may assume, for example, that educational equality is as simple as providing children with the same resources. In reality, however, there’s a lot more to it than this. We will check what governments are doing to achieve this goal. What actions they are taking to advance the cause of equality? Education is crucial because it’s a toolkit for success:

  • With literacy and numeracy comes confidence, with which comes self-respect. And by having self-respect, you can respect others, their accomplishments, and their cultures.
  • Education is the fundamental tool for achieving social, economic, and civil rights – something which all societies strive to achieve.

Educational Inequality is usually defined as the unequal distribution of educational resources among different groups in society. The situation becomes serious when it starts influencing how people live their lives. For example, children will be less likely to go to school if they are not healthy, or educated because other things are more urgent in their life.

Categorical Educational Inequality

Categorical Education Inequality is especially apparent when comparing minority/low-income schools with majority/high-income schools. Are better-off students systematically favored in getting ahead? There are three plausible conditions:

  • Higher-income parents can spend more time and money on private tutoring, school trips, and home study materials to give their children better opportunities. Therefore, better-off students have an advantage due to access to better schools, computers, technology, etc. (the so-called opportunity gap).
  • Low-income schools lack the resources to educate their students. Therefore their students tend to have worse educational outcomes.
  • Although the public school system is a government-funded program to allow all students an equal chance at a good education, this is not the case for most schools across third world countries – see UNESCO statistics below:

essay about education matters

How Educational Inequality is fueling global issues

Educational inequality is a major global crisis. It has played a role in economic problems, amplified the political deadlock, exacerbated the environmental predicament, and threatens to worsen the human rights crisis. If equality in education is not addressed directly, these crises will only deepen because: 

  • Educational Inequality is also about  race and gender . Those who are less privileged are condemned to poverty and unemployment because of a lack of quality educational resources. 
  • Without a sound education, people have  less knowledge  of the world around them or the issues facing their communities. They are less likely to vote or to pay attention to politics. This leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by those who represent narrow interests and promote fear, hatred, and violence. The result is an erosion of democratic values and an increase in authoritarianism.
  • Without correction,  human rights abuses  will continue due to a lack of legal representation among those with no or low education levels.
  • Poverty, unemployment, crimes, and health issues: A lack of education and skills forces children into poverty because they can’t get jobs or start a business. It also leaves them without hope and is one of the reasons for unemployment, lower life expectancy, malnutrition, a higher chance of chronic diseases, and crime rates.
  • Limited opportunities: The most significant issue is that lack of education reduces the opportunities for people to have a decent life. Limited options increase the division of social classes, lower social mobility, and reduce the ability to build networks and social contacts. Students in poor countries also spend a lot of time working to support their families rather than focusing on their school work. These factors also worsen the upbringing of coming generations.
  • Extremism:  Inequality can also lead to increased violence, racism, gender bias, and extremism, which causes further economic and democratic challenges.  
  • Inability to survive pandemics:  Unlike developed nations after COVID, underdeveloped countries are stuck in their unstable economic cycles. Inequality causes a lack of awareness and online educational resources, lower acceptance of preventive measures, and unaffordable vaccines, for example. According to the  United Nations , “Before the coronavirus crisis, projections showed that  more than 200 million children would be out of school , and only 60 percent of young people would be completing upper secondary education in 2030”.
  • Unawareness of technological advancements: The world is becoming more tech-savvy, while students in underdeveloped countries remain unaware of the latest technological achievements as well as unable to implement them. This also widens the education gap between countries.
  • Gender inequality in education:  In general, developing countries compromise over funds allocation for women’s education to manage their depletion of national income. As such, they consider women less efficient and productive than men. Meanwhile, many parents do not prefer sending their daughters to school because they do not think that women can contribute equally to men in the country’s development. However, if we have to overcome this, there should be an increase in funding and scholarships for women’s education.
  • Environmental crises:  People are usually less aware of the harmful emissions produced in their surroundings and are therefore less prepared to deal with increased pollution levels. This also affects climate change. The less educated the children, the more likely they are to contribute to climate change as adults. This is because education is not just about learning facts and skills but also about recognizing problems and applying knowledge in innovative ways. 
  • A child who has dropped out of school will generally  contribute less to society  than a child who has completed secondary school. A child who has completed secondary school will contribute less than a child who went to university. This difference increases over time because those with higher levels of education tend to be more open-minded, flexible thinkers and are therefore better able to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Equality in education is therefore essential for addressing international issues including economic inequality, climate change, social deprivation, and access to healthcare. Many children in poor regions are deprived of education (see chart below) which is the only way out of poverty .

essay about education matters

Proposed Solutions 

The United Nations Development Program says that access to education is a human right, and should be individually accessible and available to all by 2030. It demands:

  • International collaborations to ensure that every child has the same quality education and to develop joint curricula and academic programs. The quality of teaching methodologies should not be compromised and includes providing financial assistance and tools for equal access.
  • Running campaigns to discourage race, gender, and ethnicity differences, arranging more seminars to reach low-income groups, and providing adequate financial assistance, training, and part-time jobs for sole earners.  
  • Modifying scholarship criteria to better support deserving students who cannot afford university due to language tests and low grades. 
  • Increasing the minimum wage so that sole breadwinners can afford quality education for their children.  
  • Schools should bear transportation costs and offer free grants to deserving kids from low-income families.
  • Giving more attention to slum-side schools by updating and implementing new techniques and resources. 
  • Allowing students to learn in their own language with no enforcement of international languages and offering part-time courses in academies and community colleges in other languages. 

Resolving educational inequality has many benefits for the wider society. Allowing children from disadvantaged backgrounds to get an education will help them find better jobs with higher salaries, improving their quality of life, and making them more productive members of society. It decreases the likelihood of conflict and increases access to health care, stable economic growth, and unlimited opportunities.


It’s been said that great minds start out as small ones. To level the playing field, we need to focus on best educating our next generation of innovators and leaders, both from an individual and a societal standpoint. If we want equality to become a reality, it will be up to us to ensure that equality is at the forefront of our education system.


Environmental Conscience: 42 Causes, Effects & Solutions for a Lack of Education – E&C (

School of Education Online Programs: What the U.S. Education System Needs to Reduce Inequality | American University

Educational Inequality: Solutions | Educational Inequality (

Giving Compass: Seven Solutions for Education Inequality · Giving Compass Polarization under rising inequality and economic decline

Research Gate: Inequality and Economic Growth

University of Munich: pdf (

Research Gate: Effects-of-inequality-and-poverty-vs-teachers-and-schooling-on-Americas-youth.pdf (

Borgen Magzine

United Nations: Education as the Pathway towards Gender Equality

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – Education

This article has been edited in line with our guidelines

Gerald Nelson is a freelance academic essay writer at who also works with several e ducational and human rights organizations. 

The MAHB Blog is a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to [email protected]

Marilyn Price-Mitchell Ph.D.

What Is Education? Insights from the World's Greatest Minds

Forty thought-provoking quotes about education..

Posted May 12, 2014 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

As we seek to refine and reform today’s system of education , we would do well to ask, “What is education?” Our answers may provide insights that get to the heart of what matters for 21st century children and adults alike.

It is important to step back from divisive debates on grades, standardized testing, and teacher evaluation—and really look at the meaning of education. So I decided to do just that—to research the answer to this straightforward, yet complex question.

Looking for wisdom from some of the greatest philosophers, poets, educators, historians, theologians, politicians, and world leaders, I found answers that should not only exist in our history books, but also remain at the core of current education dialogue.

In my work as a developmental psychologist, I constantly struggle to balance the goals of formal education with the goals of raising healthy, happy children who grow to become contributing members of families and society. Along with academic skills, the educational journey from kindergarten through college is a time when young people develop many interconnected abilities.

As you read through the following quotes, you’ll discover common threads that unite the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical aspects of education. For me, good education facilitates the development of an internal compass that guides us through life.

Which quotes resonate most with you? What images of education come to your mind? How can we best integrate the wisdom of the ages to address today’s most pressing education challenges?

If you are a middle or high school teacher, I invite you to have your students write an essay entitled, “What is Education?” After reviewing the famous quotes below and the images they evoke, ask students to develop their very own quote that answers this question. With their unique quote highlighted at the top of their essay, ask them to write about what helps or hinders them from getting the kind of education they seek. I’d love to publish some student quotes, essays, and images in future articles, so please contact me if students are willing to share!

What Is Education? Answers from 5th Century BC to the 21 st Century

  • The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. — Jean Piaget, 1896-1980, Swiss developmental psychologist, philosopher
  • An education isn't how much you have committed to memory , or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't. — Anatole France, 1844-1924, French poet, novelist
  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. — Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013, South African President, philanthropist
  • The object of education is to teach us to love beauty. — Plato, 424-348 BC, philosopher mathematician
  • The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education — Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968, pastor, activist, humanitarian
  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, physicist
  • It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. — Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Greek philosopher, scientist
  • Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life. — Brigham Young, 1801-1877, religious leader
  • Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer – into a selflessness which links us with all humanity. — Nancy Astor, 1879-1964, American-born English politician and socialite
  • Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939, Irish poet
  • Education is freedom . — Paulo Freire, 1921-1997, Brazilian educator, philosopher
  • Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. — John Dewey, 1859-1952, philosopher, psychologist, education reformer
  • Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom. — George Washington Carver, 1864-1943, scientist, botanist, educator
  • Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. — Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, Irish writer, poet
  • The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. — Sydney J. Harris, 1917-1986, journalist
  • Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. — Malcolm Forbes, 1919-1990, publisher, politician
  • No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure. — Emma Goldman, 1869 – 1940, political activist, writer
  • Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants. — John W. Gardner, 1912-2002, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson
  • Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another. — Gilbert K. Chesterton, 1874-1936, English writer, theologian, poet, philosopher
  • Education is the movement from darkness to light. — Allan Bloom, 1930-1992, philosopher, classicist, and academician
  • Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know. -- Daniel J. Boorstin, 1914-2004, historian, professor, attorney
  • The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values. — William S. Burroughs, 1914-1997, novelist, essayist, painter
  • The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives. -- Robert M. Hutchins, 1899-1977, educational philosopher
  • Education is all a matter of building bridges. — Ralph Ellison, 1914-1994, novelist, literary critic, scholar
  • What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul. — Joseph Addison, 1672-1719, English essayist, poet, playwright, politician
  • Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. — Malcolm X, 1925-1965, minister and human rights activist
  • Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students. — Solomon Ortiz, 1937-, former U.S. Representative-TX
  • The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education. — Plutarch, 46-120AD, Greek historian, biographer, essayist
  • Education is a shared commitment between dedicated teachers, motivated students and enthusiastic parents with high expectations. — Bob Beauprez, 1948-, former member of U.S. House of Representatives-CO
  • The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child’s home. — William Temple, 1881-1944, English bishop, teacher
  • Education is the leading of human souls to what is best, and making what is best out of them. — John Ruskin, 1819-1900, English writer, art critic, philanthropist
  • Education levels the playing field, allowing everyone to compete. — Joyce Meyer, 1943-, Christian author and speaker
  • Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. — B.F. Skinner , 1904-1990, psychologist, behaviorist, social philosopher
  • The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers rather than to fill it with the accumulation of others. — Tyron Edwards, 1809-1894, theologian
  • Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation. — John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, 35 th President of the United States
  • Education is like a lantern which lights your way in a dark alley. — Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, 1918-2004, President of the United Arab Emirates for 33 years
  • When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts. — Dalai Lama, spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism
  • Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence . — Robert Frost, 1874-1963, poet
  • The secret in education lies in respecting the student. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, essayist, lecturer, and poet
  • My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance, but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors. — Maya Angelou, 1928-, author, poet

©2014 Marilyn Price-Mitchell. All rights reserved. Please contact for permission to reprint.

Marilyn Price-Mitchell Ph.D.

Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., is an Institute for Social Innovation Fellow at Fielding Graduate University and author of Tomorrow’s Change Makers.

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In the quest to transform education, putting purpose at the center is key

Subscribe to the center for universal education bulletin, emily markovich morris and emily markovich morris fellow - global economy and development , center for universal education @emilymarmorris ghulam omar qargha ghulam omar qargha fellow - global economy and development , center for universal education.

February 16, 2023

This commentary is the first of a three-part series on (1) why it is important to define the purpose of education, (2) how historical forces have interacted to shape the purposes of today’s modern schooling systems , and (3) the role of power in reshaping how the purpose of school is taken up by global education actors in policy and practice .

Education systems transformation is creating buzz among educators, policymakers, researchers, and families. For the first time, the U.N. secretary general convened the Transforming Education Summit around the subject in 2022. In tandem, UNESCO, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UNICEF, the World Bank, and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) co-authored “ From Learning Recovery to Education Transformation ” to lay a roadmap for how to move from COVID-19 school closures to systems change. Donor institutions like the Global Partnership for Education’s most recent strategy centers on systems transformation, and groups like the Global Campaign for Education are advocating for broader public engagement on transformative education. 

Unless we anchor ourselves and define where we are coming from and where we want to go as societies and institutions, discussions on systems transformation will continue to be circuitous and contentious.  

What is missing from the larger discussion on systems transformation is an intentional and candid dialogue on how societies and institutions are defining the purpose of education. When the topic is discussed, it often misses the mark or proposes an intervention that takes for granted that there is a shared purpose among policymakers, educators, families, students, and other actors. For example, the current global focus on foundational learning is not a purpose unto itself but rather a mechanism for serving a greater purpose — whether for economic development, national identity formation, and/or supporting improved well-being.   

The Role of Purpose in Systems Transformation   

The purpose of education has sparked many conversations over the centuries. In 1930, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her essay in Pictorial Review , “What is the purpose of education? This question agitates scholars, teachers, statesmen, every group, in fact, of thoughtful men and women.”  She argues that education is critical for building “good citizenship.” As Martin Luther King, Jr. urged in his 1947 essay, “ The Purpose of Education ,” education transmits “not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.” King urged us to see the purpose of education as a social and political struggle as much as a philosophical one.   

In contemporary conversations, the purpose of education is often classified in terms of the individual and social benefits—such personal, cultural, economic, and social purposes or individual/social possibility and individual/social efficiency . However, when countries and communities define the purpose, it needs to be an intentional part of the transformation process. As laid out in the Center for Universal Education’s (CUE’s) policy brief “ Transforming Education Systems: Why, What, and How ,” defining and deconstructing assumptions is critical to building a “broadly shared vision and purpose” of education.   

Education and the Sustainable Development Goals  

Underlying all the different purposes of education lies the foundational framing of education as a human right in the Sustainable Development Goals. People of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, abilities, languages, religions, socio-economic status, and national or social origins have the right to an education as affirmed in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights . This legal framework has fueled the education for all movement and civil rights movements around the world, alongside the Convention of the Rights of the Child of 1989 , which further protects children’s rights to a quality, safe, and equitable education. Defending people’s right to education regardless of how they will use their education helps keep us from losing sight of why we are having these conversations.   

Themes in education from the Sustainable Development Goals cross multiple purposes. For example, lifelong learning and environmental education are two key areas that extend across purposes. Lifelong learning emphasizes that education extends across age groups, education levels, modalities, and geographies. In some contexts, lifelong learning can be professional growth for economic development, but it can also be practice for spiritual growth. Similarly, environmental education may be taught as sustainable development or the balance among economic, social, and environmental protections through well-being and flourishing — or taught through a perspective of culturally sustaining practices influenced by Indigenous philosophies in education.   

Five Key Purposes of Education  

The purposes of education overlap and intersect, but pulling them apart helps us interrogate the dominant ways of framing education in the larger ecosystem and to draw attention to those that receive less attention. Categories also help us move from very philosophical and academic conversations into practical discussions that educators, learners, and families can join. Although these five categories do not do justice to the complexity of the conversation, they are a start.   

  • Education for economic development is the idea that learners pursue an education to eventually obtain work or to improve the quality, safety, or earnings of their current work. This purpose is the most dominant framing used by education systems around the world and part of the agenda to modernize and develop societies according to different stages of economic growth . This economic purpose is rooted in the human capital theory, which poses that the more schooling a person completes, the higher their income, wages, or productivity ( Aslam & Rawal, 2015; Berman, 2022 ). Higher individual earnings lead to greater household income and eventually higher national economic growth. In addition to the World Bank , global institutions like the United States Agency for International Development and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development often position education primarily in relation to economic development. The promise of education as a key to social mobility and helping individuals and communities improve their economic circumstances also falls under this purpose ( World Economic Forum ).   
  • Education for building national identities and civic engagement positions education as an important conduit for promoting national, community, or other identities. With the emergence of modern states, education became a key tool for building national identity — and in some contexts , also democratic citizenship as demonstrated in Eleanor Roosevelt’s essay; this motivation continues to be a primary purpose in many localities ( Verger, Lubienski, & Steiner-Khamsi, 2016 ). Today this purpose is heavily influenced by human right s education — or the teaching and learning of — as well as peace education, to “sustain a just and equitable peace and world” ( Bajaj & Hantzopoulus, 2016, p. 1 ). This purpose is foundational to civics and citizenship education and international exchange programming focused on building global citizenship to name a few.  
  • Education as liberation and critical conscientization looks at the centrality of education in confronting and redressing different forms of structural oppression. Martin Luther King wrote about the purpose of education “to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” Educator and philosopher Paolo Freire wrote extensively about the importance of education in developing a critical consciousness and awareness of the roots of oppression, and in identifying opportunities to challenge and transform this oppression through action. Critical race, gender , disabilities, and other theories in education further examine the ways education reproduces multiple and intersectional subordinations , but also how teaching and learning has the power to redress oppression through cultural and social transformation. As liberatory and critical educator, bell hooks wrote, “To educate as a practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn” ( hooks, 1994, p. 13 ). Efforts to teach social justice and equity—from racial literacy to gender equity—often draw on this purpose.   
  • Education for well-being and flourishing emphasizes how learning is fundamental to building thriving people and communities. Although economic well-being is a component of this purpose, it is not the only purpose—rather social, emotional, physical and mental, spiritual and other forms of well-being are also privileged. Amartya Sen’s  and Martha Nussbaum’s work on well-being and capabilities have greatly informed this purpose. They argue that individuals and communities must define education in ways that they have reason to value beyond just an economic end. The Flourish Project has been developing and advocating an ecological model for helping understand and map these different types of well-being. Vital to this purpose are also social and emotional learning efforts that support children and youth in acquiring knowledge, attitudes, and skills critical to positive mental and emotional health, relationships with others, among other areas ( CASEL, 2018 ; EASEL Lab, 2023 ).  
  • Education as culturally and spiritually sustaining is one of the purposes that receives insufficient attention in global education conversations. This purpose is critical to the past, present, and future field of education and emphasizes building relationships to oneself and one’s land and environment, culture, community, and faith. Centered in Indigenous philosophies in education , this purpose encompasses sustaining cultural knowledges often disregarded and displaced by modern schooling efforts. Borrowing from Django Paris’s concept of “culturally sustaining pedagogy , ” the purpose of teaching and learning goes beyond “building bridges” among the home, community, and school and instead brings together the learning practices that happen in these different domains.  Similarly neglected in the discourse is the purpose of education for spiritual and religious development, which can be intertwined with Indigenous pedagogies , as well as education for liberation, and education for well-being and flourishing. Examples include the Hibbert Lectures of 1965 , which argue that Christian values should guide the purposes of education, and scholars of Islamic education who delve into the purposes of education in the Muslim world. Indigenous pedagogies, as well as spiritual and religious teaching , predate modern school movements, yet this undercurrent of moral, religious, character, and spiritual purposes of education is still alive in much of the world.  

Beyond the Buzz   

The way we define the purpose of education is heavily influenced by our experiences, as well as those of our families, communities, and societies. The underlying philosophies of education that are presented both influence our education systems and are influenced by our education systems. Unless we anchor ourselves and define where we are coming from and where we want to go as societies and institutions, discussions on systems transformation will continue to be circuitous and contentious. We will continue to focus on upgrading and changing standards, competencies, content, and practices without looking at why education matters. We will continue to fight over the place of climate change education, critical race theory, socio-emotional learning, and religious learning in our schools without understanding the ways each of these fits into the larger education ecosystem.   

The intent of this blog is not to box education into finite purposes, but to remind us in the quest for systems transformation that there are multiple ways to see the purpose of education. Taking time to dig into the philosophies, histories, and complexities behind these purposes will help us ensure that we are headed toward transformation and not just adding to the buzz.   

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Why education is the key to development

essay about education matters

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Education is a human right. And, like other human rights, it cannot be taken for granted. Across the world,  59 million children and 65 million adolescents are out of school . More than 120 million children do not complete primary education.

Behind these figures there are children and youth being denied not only a right, but opportunities: a fair chance to get a decent job, to escape poverty, to support their families, and to develop their communities. This year, decision-makers will set the priorities for global development for the next 15 years. They should make sure to place education high on the list.

The deadline for the Millennium Development Goals is fast approaching. We have a responsibility to make sure we fulfill the promise we made at the beginning of the millennium: to ensure that boys and girls everywhere complete a full course of primary schooling.

The challenge is daunting. Many of those who remain out of school are the hardest to reach, as they live in countries that are held back by conflict, disaster, and epidemics. And the last push is unlikely to be accompanied by the double-digit economic growth in some developing economies that makes it easier to expand opportunities.

Nevertheless, we can succeed. Over the last 15 years, governments and their partners have shown that political will and concerted efforts can deliver tremendous results – including halving the number of children and adolescents who are out of school. Moreover, most countries are closing in on gender parity at the primary level. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to finish what we started.

But we must not stop with primary education. In today’s knowledge-driven economies, access to quality education and the chances for development are two sides of the same coin. That is why we must also set targets for secondary education, while improving quality and learning outcomes at all levels. That is what the  Sustainable Development Goal  on education, which world leaders will adopt this year, aims to do.

Addressing the fact that an estimated 250 million children worldwide are not learning the basic skills they need to enter the labor market is more than a moral obligation. It amounts to an investment in sustainable growth and prosperity. For both countries and individuals, there is a direct and indisputable link between access to quality education and economic and social development.

Likewise, ensuring that girls are not kept at home when they reach puberty, but are allowed to complete education on the same footing as their male counterparts, is not just altruism; it is sound economics. Communities and countries that succeed in achieving gender parity in education will reap substantial benefits relating to health, equality, and job creation.

All countries, regardless of their national wealth, stand to gain from more and better education. According to a recent  OECD report , providing every child with access to education and the skills needed to participate fully in society would boost GDP by an average 28% per year in lower-income countries and 16% per year in high-income countries for the next 80 years.

Today’s students need “twenty-first-century skills,” like critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and digital literacy. Learners of all ages need to become familiar with new technologies and cope with rapidly changing workplaces.

According to the International Labour Organization, an additional 280 million jobs will be needed by 2019. It is vital for policymakers to ensure that the right frameworks and incentives are established so that those jobs can be created and filled. Robust education systems – underpinned by qualified, professionally trained, motivated, and well-supported teachers – will be the cornerstone of this effort.

Governments should work with parent and teacher associations, as well as the private sector and civil-society organizations, to find the best and most constructive ways to improve the quality of education. Innovation has to be harnessed, and new partnerships must be forged.

Of course, this will cost money. According to UNESCO, in order to meet our basic education targets by 2030, we must close an external annual financing gap of about $22 billion. But we have the resources necessary to deliver. What is lacking is the political will to make the needed investments.

This is the challenge that inspired Norway to  invite world leaders  to Oslo for a  Summit on Education for Development ,  where we can develop strategies for mobilizing political support for increasing financing for education. For the first time in history, we are in the unique position to provide education opportunities for all, if only we pull together. We cannot miss this critical opportunity.

To be sure, the responsibility for providing citizens with a quality education rests, first and foremost, with national governments. Aid cannot replace domestic-resource mobilization. But donor countries also have an important role to play, especially in supporting least-developed countries. We must reverse the recent downward trend in development assistance for education, and leverage our assistance to attract investments from various other sources. For our part, we are in the process of doubling Norway’s financial contribution to education for development in the period 2013-2017.

Together, we need to intensify efforts to bring the poorest and hardest to reach children into the education system. Education is a right for everyone. It is a right for girls, just as it is for boys. It is a right for disabled children, just as it is for everyone else. It is a right for the 37 million out-of-school children and youth in countries affected by crises and conflicts. Education is a right regardless of where you are born and where you grow up. It is time to ensure that the right is upheld.

This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate . Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

To keep up with the Agenda  subscribe to our weekly newsletter .

Author: Erna Solberg is Prime Minister of Norway. Børge Brende is Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Image: Students attend a class at the Oxford International College in Changzhou. REUTERS/Aly Song. 

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Top 10 Reasons Why Is Education Important

Updated: February 1, 2024

Published: April 15, 2020


Most of us have grown up being taught the importance of education. But why is education important? Through your frustrating school years, you may have thought that it was a waste of time, or was just something that you needed to do in order to get a job. Truth be told, however, education goes so much beyond just getting a job and making your parents happy. In fact, it’s one of the most powerful tools out there.

What Is Education?

Education means studying in order to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of a variety of subjects to be applied to daily life. Education is not limited to just knowledge from books, but can also be obtained through practical experiences outside of the classroom.

Top 10 Reasons: Why Is Education Important?

There are many different understandings and definitions of what education is, but one thing can be universally agreed upon, which is the importance of education — and here’s why.

1. Provides Stability

Education provides stability in life, and it’s something that no one can ever take away from you. By being well-educated and holding a college degree , you increase your chances for better career opportunities and open up new doors for yourself.

2. Provides Financial Security

On top of stability, education also provides financial security, especially in today’s society. A good education tends to lead to a higher paying job, as well as provide you with the skills needed to get there. Educated and well-informed individuals also know how to use money-saving tactics. They are more likely to use coupon websites like EMUCoupon while shopping online to save their hard-earned money.

3. Needed For Equality

In order for the entire world to really become equal, it needs to start with education. If everyone was provided with the same opportunities to education , then there would be less gaps between social classes. Everyone would be able to have an equal chance at higher paying jobs — not just those that are already well-off.

4. Allows For Self-Dependency

The importance of education is evident when it comes to being self-dependent. If we are we educated, then it’s something that belongs to us, and only us, allowing us to rely on no one else other than ourselves. It can allow you to not only be financially independent, but also to make your own choices.

5. Make Your Dreams Come True

If you can dream it, you can achieve it. An education is the most powerful weapon you can possibly have, and with it, you can make all of your dreams come true. There are of course certain exceptions, depending on what you’re aiming for, but generally an education will take you as far as you’re willing to go.

6. A Safer World

Education is something that’s not only needed on a personal level, but also on a global level, as it’s something that keeps our world safe and makes it a more peaceful place. Education tends to teach people the difference between right and wrong, and can help people stay out of risky situations.

7. Confidence

Being self-confident is a major part of being successful in life. And what better way to gain that confidence than with an education? Your level of education is often considered a way to prove your knowledge, and it can give you the confidence to express your opinions and speak your mind.

8. A Part Of Society

In today’s society, having an education is considered a vital part of being accepted by those around you. Having an education is believed to make you a useful part of society, and can make you feel like a contributing member as well.

9. Economic Growth On A National Level

An educated society is crucial for economic growth. We need people to continue to learn and research in order to constantly stay innovative. Countries with higher literacy rates also tend to be in better economic situations. With a more educated population, more employment opportunities are opened.

10. Can Protect You

Education can protect you more than you know, not only on a financial level, but it can help prevent you from being taken advantage of by knowing how to read and write, such as knowing not to sign any bogus documents.

Photo by  Pixabay  from  Pexels

Education is important for children.

Children are the future of our world, making education crucial for them. Their knowledge is what’s going to keep our world alive and flourishing.

At Childhood

During the childhood development stages, the importance of education is stronger than ever. It’s a time for children to learn social and mental skills that will be crucial for their growth and success in the future. Education at childhood also offers a chance for self-discovery and to learn about their unique interests.

The importance of education in our lives goes far beyond what we can read in a textbook. Education also provides childhood with knowledge such as how to produce artwork and make music. Education allows us to analyze what’s in front of us, and even learn from our mistakes.

Goal Building

By learning from a young age, children are given the chance to start building goals for themselves. Education means having the logic to set your mind to something and achieve it.

Importance Of Education In Society

For a modern society, education is of utmost importance. There are so many influences coming from all directions, and education can help us decipher what we should take as true, and what we should take with a grain of salt. Education can mold people into functional members of society with the right kinds of values.


Education is needed for a productive society. Our population only continues to increase, and in turn, so do our needs. We need a strong and efficient workforce of educated people to provide us with the services we need for everyday life.

Why Is Education Important For a Nation?

The importance of education is seen in every aspect of life, and is especially crucial for the growth of a nation.

The Impact Education Has On The World

With education, people can become better citizens, knowing right from wrong, allowing for a better society where laws are followed. An educated nation knows about the importance of voting, doing so with the knowledge not blindly, but also having an understanding of what their party truly stands for. Education can also help people get jobs, which is what a nation thrives on.

Inspiring Quotes On What Education Truly Is

Why is education important, and what is it exactly? While every person has a different understanding of its true meaning, here are some of the most inspiring quotes by some legendary people.

  • “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela
  • “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X
  • “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin
  • “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” — John Dewey

What Are Some Other Reasons Why Education Is Important?

There are endless reasons why education is so important, especially since it also has endless connotations and meanings.

Mind And Body

Our mind and bodies are connected more than we know. With a powerful, well-educated mind, so too are our bodies.

We can not only know how to best take care of ourselves, but we can feel confident and good about ourselves, which will likely have a positive effect on our physical well-being . Education has even been proven to add years to our life . To be exact, each additional year of education was found to add as much as 1.7 years to our lives at the age of 35.

Personal Growth

The importance of education even extends itself to our personal growth. By constantly educating ourselves, asking questions and wanting to know more, we can move forward and achieve things we never imagined before.

Get To Know Yourself

Education can allow us to get to know ourselves better than ever. We can learn things about ourselves, whether it be through books, courses, or even consulting with a professional.

Photo by  Burst  from  Pexels

Worldwide value.

Education is the best way to ensure a positive world value and view. Without a proper education, how else do we know what’s considered appropriate and how to behave?

While world peace may unfortunately seem like a far-fetched concept, with education we can get closer to this goal than we know. Education can teach us about our place in this world, and about our responsibility to humanity.

Teaches Values

Values are taught through education! Education exists far beyond the classroom or an exam. It’s taught at home, through what our parents and peers show us, and although not necessarily written down somewhere, such a teaching method is still a large aspect of what education entails.

Sharpens Your Thinking

Education is needed to think sharply and clearly!

Makes You Informed

Education makes you informed about the world around you, what’s going on and what kind of people are around you. Education can help you be more self-aware about your strengths and weaknesses, showing you were to shift your focus.

Logical Reasoning

When in an argument, if you aren’t well educated and don’t have your facts straight, then you aren’t likely to win. If you get upset about something, then being educated can also help you logically work through the situation and make sense of it, understanding all aspects.

Stay Focused

Education can help you stay focused and on track in the right direction by knowing what the right path is for you.

Allows For Innovation And Creativity

When it comes to being creative, in any way, shape, or form, the mind can only really reach its full potential if it’s been fed with the knowledge it needs to think outside the box.

Develop Life Skills

Education is the foundation of basic life skills and street smarts. While education might sound like a fancy technical term, it’s really everything we learn in life about how to best conduct ourselves from day to day.

Education can be the most freeing and empowering thing in the entire world!

Live Life To The Fullest

Truly living life to the fullest means being well-educated and holding a vast amount of knowledge about the world around us. It also means we continue to learn every day in all kinds of forms, whether it be from the people around us, newspapers, experiences, research, or traditional classes.

Breaks Barriers

Education breaks barriers between people, and allows people from across the globe to be empowered.

University of the People, a tuition-free , online university, is one powerful example of how education is being revolutionized – they offer students of all socio-economic backgrounds an equal chance at education.

Once upon a time, such a thing wouldn’t have been possible, but today such places like UoPeople have proven that these barriers truly can be broken through to receive higher education.

You Become Your Highest You

Education can allow you to become the best, fullest version of yourself, learning about what interests you, what you’re good at, becoming self-aware and conscious about the world around you. It can help you establish your place in this world, and feel complete.

Education In The Modern World

Education today is more important than ever before, and has reached new heights with new understandings of what it truly entails. Ask yourself “Why is education important?” and it will surely not be the same as anyone else’s answer.

While in modern society, holding a college degree is considered to be highly beneficial for a successful career and to be socially accepted, it is not the only means of education. Education is all around us in everything that we do, so use it wisely!

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Read winning essays from our spring 2019 student writing contest.

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For the spring 2019 student writing contest, we invited students to read the YES! article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age” by Nancy Hill. Like the author, students interviewed someone significantly older than them about the three things that matter most in life. Students then wrote about what they learned, and about how their interviewees’ answers compare to their own top priorities.

The Winners

From the hundreds of essays written, these eight were chosen as winners. Be sure to read the author’s response to the essay winners and the literary gems that caught our eye. Plus, we share an essay from teacher Charles Sanderson, who also responded to the writing prompt.

Middle School Winner: Rory Leyva

High School Winner:  Praethong Klomsum

University Winner:  Emily Greenbaum

Powerful Voice Winner: Amanda Schwaben

Powerful Voice Winner: Antonia Mills

Powerful Voice Winner:  Isaac Ziemba

Powerful Voice Winner: Lily Hersch

“Tell It Like It Is” Interview Winner: Jonas Buckner

From the Author: Response to Student Winners

Literary Gems

From A Teacher: Charles Sanderson

From the Author: Response to Charles Sanderson

Middle School Winner

Village Home Education Resource Center, Portland, Ore.

essay about education matters

The Lessons Of Mortality 

“As I’ve aged, things that are more personal to me have become somewhat less important. Perhaps I’ve become less self-centered with the awareness of mortality, how short one person’s life is.” This is how my 72-year-old grandma believes her values have changed over the course of her life. Even though I am only 12 years old, I know my life won’t last forever, and someday I, too, will reflect on my past decisions. We were all born to exist and eventually die, so we have evolved to value things in the context of mortality.

One of the ways I feel most alive is when I play roller derby. I started playing for the Rose City Rollers Juniors two years ago, and this year, I made the Rosebud All-Stars travel team. Roller derby is a fast-paced, full-contact sport. The physicality and intense training make me feel in control of and present in my body.

My roller derby team is like a second family to me. Adolescence is complicated. We understand each other in ways no one else can. I love my friends more than I love almost anything else. My family would have been higher on my list a few years ago, but as I’ve aged it has been important to make my own social connections.

Music led me to roller derby.  I started out jam skating at the roller rink. Jam skating is all about feeling the music. It integrates gymnastics, breakdancing, figure skating, and modern dance with R & B and hip hop music. When I was younger, I once lay down in the DJ booth at the roller rink and was lulled to sleep by the drawl of wheels rolling in rhythm and people talking about the things they came there to escape. Sometimes, I go up on the roof of my house at night to listen to music and feel the wind rustle my hair. These unique sensations make me feel safe like nothing else ever has.

My grandma tells me, “Being close with family and friends is the most important thing because I haven’t

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always had that.” When my grandma was two years old, her father died. Her mother became depressed and moved around a lot, which made it hard for my grandma to make friends. Once my grandma went to college, she made lots of friends. She met my grandfather, Joaquin Leyva when she was working as a park ranger and he was a surfer. They bought two acres of land on the edge of a redwood forest and had a son and a daughter. My grandma created a stable family that was missing throughout her early life.

My grandma is motivated to maintain good health so she can be there for her family. I can relate because I have to be fit and strong for my team. Since she lost my grandfather to cancer, she realizes how lucky she is to have a functional body and no life-threatening illnesses. My grandma tries to eat well and exercise, but she still struggles with depression. Over time, she has learned that reaching out to others is essential to her emotional wellbeing.  

Caring for the earth is also a priority for my grandma I’ve been lucky to learn from my grandma. She’s taught me how to hunt for fossils in the desert and find shells on the beach. Although my grandma grew up with no access to the wilderness, she admired the green open areas of urban cemeteries. In college, she studied geology and hiked in the High Sierras. For years, she’s been an advocate for conserving wildlife habitat and open spaces.

Our priorities may seem different, but it all comes down to basic human needs. We all desire a purpose, strive to be happy, and need to be loved. Like Nancy Hill says in the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” it can be hard to decipher what is important in life. I believe that the constant search for satisfaction and meaning is the only thing everyone has in common. We all want to know what matters, and we walk around this confusing world trying to find it. The lessons I’ve learned from my grandma about forging connections, caring for my body, and getting out in the world inspire me to live my life my way before it’s gone.

Rory Leyva is a seventh-grader from Portland, Oregon. Rory skates for the Rosebuds All-Stars roller derby team. She loves listening to music and hanging out with her friends.

High School Winner

Praethong Klomsum

  Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, Calif.

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Time Only Moves Forward

Sandra Hernandez gazed at the tiny house while her mother’s gentle hands caressed her shoulders. It wasn’t much, especially for a family of five. This was 1960, she was 17, and her family had just moved to Culver City.

Flash forward to 2019. Sandra sits in a rocking chair, knitting a blanket for her latest grandchild, in the same living room. Sandra remembers working hard to feed her eight children. She took many different jobs before settling behind the cash register at a Japanese restaurant called Magos. “It was a struggle, and my husband Augustine, was planning to join the military at that time, too.”

In the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” author Nancy Hill states that one of the most important things is “…connecting with others in general, but in particular with those who have lived long lives.” Sandra feels similarly. It’s been hard for Sandra to keep in contact with her family, which leaves her downhearted some days. “It’s important to maintain that connection you have with your family, not just next-door neighbors you talk to once a month.”

Despite her age, Sandra is a daring woman. Taking risks is important to her, and she’ll try anything—from skydiving to hiking. Sandra has some regrets from the past, but nowadays, she doesn’t wonder about the “would have, could have, should haves.” She just goes for it with a smile.

Sandra thought harder about her last important thing, the blue and green blanket now finished and covering

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her lap. “I’ve definitely lived a longer life than most, and maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I hope I can see the day my great-grandchildren are born.” She’s laughing, but her eyes look beyond what’s in front of her. Maybe she is reminiscing about the day she held her son for the first time or thinking of her grandchildren becoming parents. I thank her for her time and she waves it off, offering me a styrofoam cup of lemonade before I head for the bus station.

The bus is sparsely filled. A voice in my head reminds me to finish my 10-page history research paper before spring break. I take a window seat and pull out my phone and earbuds. My playlist is already on shuffle, and I push away thoughts of that dreaded paper. Music has been a constant in my life—from singing my lungs out in kindergarten to Barbie’s “I Need To Know,” to jamming out to Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” in sixth grade, to BTS’s “Intro: Never Mind” comforting me when I’m at my lowest. Music is my magic shop, a place where I can trade away my fears for calm.

I’ve always been afraid of doing something wrong—not finishing my homework or getting a C when I can do better. When I was 8, I wanted to be like the big kids. As I got older, I realized that I had exchanged my childhood longing for the 48 pack of crayons for bigger problems, balancing grades, a social life, and mental stability—all at once. I’m going to get older whether I like it or not, so there’s no point forcing myself to grow up faster.  I’m learning to live in the moment.

The bus is approaching my apartment, where I know my comfy bed and a home-cooked meal from my mom are waiting. My mom is hard-working, confident, and very stubborn. I admire her strength of character. She always keeps me in line, even through my rebellious phases.

My best friend sends me a text—an update on how broken her laptop is. She is annoying. She says the stupidest things and loves to state the obvious. Despite this, she never fails to make me laugh until my cheeks feel numb. The rest of my friends are like that too—loud, talkative, and always brightening my day. Even friends I stopped talking to have a place in my heart. Recently, I’ve tried to reconnect with some of them. This interview was possible because a close friend from sixth grade offered to introduce me to Sandra, her grandmother.  

I’m decades younger than Sandra, so my view of what’s important isn’t as broad as hers, but we share similar values, with friends and family at the top. I have a feeling that when Sandra was my age, she used to love music, too. Maybe in a few decades, when I’m sitting in my rocking chair, drawing in my sketchbook, I’ll remember this article and think back fondly to the days when life was simple.

Praethong Klomsum is a tenth-grader at Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California.  Praethong has a strange affinity for rhyme games and is involved in her school’s dance team. She enjoys drawing and writing, hoping to impact people willing to listen to her thoughts and ideas.

University Winner

Emily Greenbaum

Kent State University, Kent, Ohio 

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The Life-Long War

Every morning we open our eyes, ready for a new day. Some immediately turn to their phones and social media. Others work out or do yoga. For a certain person, a deep breath and the morning sun ground him. He hears the clink-clank of his wife cooking low sodium meat for breakfast—doctor’s orders! He sees that the other side of the bed is already made, the dogs are no longer in the room, and his clothes are set out nicely on the loveseat.

Today, though, this man wakes up to something different: faded cream walls and jello. This person, my hero, is Master Chief Petty Officer Roger James.

I pulled up my chair close to Roger’s vinyl recliner so I could hear him above the noise of the beeping dialysis machine. I noticed Roger would occasionally glance at his wife Susan with sparkly eyes when he would recall memories of the war or their grandkids. He looked at Susan like she walked on water.

Roger James served his country for thirty years. Now, he has enlisted in another type of war. He suffers from a rare blood cancer—the result of the wars he fought in. Roger has good and bad days. He says, “The good outweighs the bad, so I have to be grateful for what I have on those good days.”

When Roger retired, he never thought the effects of the war would reach him. The once shallow wrinkles upon his face become deeper, as he tells me, “It’s just cancer. Others are suffering from far worse. I know I’ll make it.”

Like Nancy Hill did in her article “Three Things that Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” I asked Roger, “What are the three most important things to you?” James answered, “My wife Susan, my grandkids, and church.”

Roger and Susan served together in the Vietnam war. She was a nurse who treated his cuts and scrapes one day. I asked Roger why he chose Susan. He said, “Susan told me to look at her while she cleaned me up. ‘This may sting, but don’t be a baby.’ When I looked into her eyes, I felt like she was looking into my soul, and I didn’t want her to leave. She gave me this sense of home. Every day I wake up, she makes me feel the same way, and I fall in love with her all over again.”

Roger and Susan have two kids and four grandkids, with great-grandchildren on the way. He claims that his grandkids give him the youth that he feels slowly escaping from his body. This adoring grandfather is energized by coaching t-ball and playing evening card games with the grandkids.

The last thing on his list was church. His oldest daughter married a pastor. Together they founded a church. Roger said that the connection between his faith and family is important to him because it gave him a reason to want to live again. I learned from Roger that when you’re across the ocean, you tend to lose sight of why you are fighting. When Roger returned, he didn’t have the will to live. Most days were a struggle, adapting back into a society that lacked empathy for the injuries, pain, and psychological trauma carried by returning soldiers. Church changed that for Roger and gave him a sense of purpose.

When I began this project, my attitude was to just get the assignment done. I never thought I could view Master Chief Petty Officer Roger James as more than a role model, but he definitely changed my mind. It’s as if Roger magically lit a fire inside of me and showed me where one’s true passions should lie. I see our similarities and embrace our differences. We both value family and our own connections to home—his home being church and mine being where I can breathe the easiest.

Master Chief Petty Officer Roger James has shown me how to appreciate what I have around me and that every once in a while, I should step back and stop to smell the roses. As we concluded the interview, amidst squeaky clogs and the stale smell of bleach and bedpans, I looked to Roger, his kind, tired eyes, and weathered skin, with a deeper sense of admiration, knowing that his values still run true, no matter what he faces.

Emily Greenbaum is a senior at Kent State University, graduating with a major in Conflict Management and minor in Geography. Emily hopes to use her major to facilitate better conversations, while she works in the Washington, D.C. area.  

Powerful Voice Winner

Amanda Schwaben

essay about education matters

Wise Words From Winnie the Pooh

As I read through Nancy Hill’s article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” I was comforted by the similar responses given by both children and older adults. The emphasis participants placed on family, social connections, and love was not only heartwarming but hopeful. While the messages in the article filled me with warmth, I felt a twinge of guilt building within me. As a twenty-one-year-old college student weeks from graduation, I honestly don’t think much about the most important things in life. But if I was asked, I would most likely say family, friendship, and love. As much as I hate to admit it, I often find myself obsessing over achieving a successful career and finding a way to “save the world.”

A few weeks ago, I was at my family home watching the new Winnie the Pooh movie Christopher Robin with my mom and younger sister. Well, I wasn’t really watching. I had my laptop in front of me, and I was aggressively typing up an assignment. Halfway through the movie, I realized I left my laptop charger in my car. I walked outside into the brisk March air. Instinctively, I looked up. The sky was perfectly clear, revealing a beautiful array of stars. When my twin sister and I were in high school, we would always take a moment to look up at the sparkling night sky before we came into the house after soccer practice.

I think that was the last time I stood in my driveway and gazed at the stars. I did not get the laptop charger from

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my car; instead, I turned around and went back inside. I shut my laptop and watched the rest of the movie. My twin sister loves Winnie the Pooh. So much so that my parents got her a stuffed animal version of him for Christmas. While I thought he was adorable and a token of my childhood, I did not really understand her obsession. However, it was clear to me after watching the movie. Winnie the Pooh certainly had it figured out. He believed that the simple things in life were the most important: love, friendship, and having fun.

I thought about asking my mom right then what the three most important things were to her, but I decided not to. I just wanted to be in the moment. I didn’t want to be doing homework. It was a beautiful thing to just sit there and be present with my mom and sister.

I did ask her, though, a couple of weeks later. Her response was simple.  All she said was family, health, and happiness. When she told me this, I imagined Winnie the Pooh smiling. I think he would be proud of that answer.

I was not surprised by my mom’s reply. It suited her perfectly. I wonder if we relearn what is most important when we grow older—that the pressure to be successful subsides. Could it be that valuing family, health, and happiness is what ends up saving the world?

Amanda Schwaben is a graduating senior from Kent State University with a major in Applied Conflict Management. Amanda also has minors in Psychology and Interpersonal Communication. She hopes to further her education and focus on how museums not only preserve history but also promote peace.

Antonia Mills

Rachel Carson High School, Brooklyn, N.Y. 

essay about education matters

Decoding The Butterfly

For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must first digest itself. The caterpillar, overwhelmed by accumulating tissue, splits its skin open to form its protective shell, the chrysalis, and later becomes the pretty butterfly we all know and love. There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies, and just as every species is different, so is the life of every butterfly. No matter how long and hard a caterpillar has strived to become the colorful and vibrant butterfly that we marvel at on a warm spring day, it does not live a long life. A butterfly can live for a year, six months, two weeks, and even as little as twenty-four hours.

I have often wondered if butterflies live long enough to be blissful of blue skies. Do they take time to feast upon the sweet nectar they crave, midst their hustling life of pollinating pretty flowers? Do they ever take a lull in their itineraries, or are they always rushing towards completing their four-stage metamorphosis? Has anyone asked the butterfly, “Who are you?” instead of “What are you”? Or, How did you get here, on my windowsill?  How did you become ‘you’?

Humans are similar to butterflies. As a caterpillar

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Suzanna Ruby/Getty Images

becomes a butterfly, a baby becomes an elder. As a butterfly soars through summer skies, an elder watches summer skies turn into cold winter nights and back toward summer skies yet again.  And as a butterfly flits slowly by the porch light, a passerby makes assumptions about the wrinkled, slow-moving elder, who is sturdier than he appears. These creatures are not seen for who they are—who they were—because people have “better things to do” or they are too busy to ask, “How are you”?

Our world can be a lonely place. Pressured by expectations, haunted by dreams, overpowered by weakness, and drowned out by lofty goals, we tend to forget ourselves—and others. Rather than hang onto the strands of our diminishing sanity, we might benefit from listening to our elders. Many elders have experienced setbacks in their young lives. Overcoming hardship and surviving to old age is wisdom that they carry.  We can learn from them—and can even make their day by taking the time to hear their stories.  

Nancy Hill, who wrote the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” was right: “We live among such remarkable people, yet few know their stories.” I know a lot about my grandmother’s life, and it isn’t as serene as my own. My grandmother, Liza, who cooks every day, bakes bread on holidays for our neighbors, brings gifts to her doctor out of the kindness of her heart, and makes conversation with neighbors even though she is isn’t fluent in English—Russian is her first language—has struggled all her life. Her mother, Anna, a single parent, had tuberculosis, and even though she had an inviolable spirit, she was too frail to care for four children. She passed away when my grandmother was sixteen, so my grandmother and her siblings spent most of their childhood in an orphanage. My grandmother got married at nineteen to my grandfather, Pinhas. He was a man who loved her more than he loved himself and was a godsend to every person he met. Liza was—and still is—always quick to do what was best for others, even if that person treated her poorly. My grandmother has lived with physical pain all her life, yet she pushed herself to climb heights that she wasn’t ready for. Against all odds, she has lived to tell her story to people who are willing to listen. And I always am.

I asked my grandmother, “What are three things most important to you?” Her answer was one that I already expected: One, for everyone to live long healthy lives. Two, for you to graduate from college. Three, for you to always remember that I love you.

What may be basic to you means the world to my grandmother. She just wants what she never had the chance to experience: a healthy life, an education, and the chance to express love to the people she values. The three things that matter most to her may be so simple and ordinary to outsiders, but to her, it is so much more. And who could take that away?

Antonia Mills was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and attends Rachel Carson High School.  Antonia enjoys creative activities, including writing, painting, reading, and baking. She hopes to pursue culinary arts professionally in the future. One of her favorite quotes is, “When you start seeing your worth, you’ll find it harder to stay around people who don’t.” -Emily S.P.  

  Powerful Voice Winner

   Isaac Ziemba

Odyssey Multiage Program, Bainbridge Island, Wash. 

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This Former State Trooper Has His Priorities Straight: Family, Climate Change, and Integrity

I have a personal connection to people who served in the military and first responders. My uncle is a first responder on the island I live on, and my dad retired from the Navy. That was what made a man named Glen Tyrell, a state trooper for 25 years, 2 months and 9 days, my first choice to interview about what three things matter in life. In the YES! Magazine article “The Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” I learned that old and young people have a great deal in common. I know that’s true because Glen and I care about a lot of the same things.

For Glen, family is at the top of his list of important things. “My wife was, and is, always there for me. My daughters mean the world to me, too, but Penny is my partner,” Glen said. I can understand why Glen’s wife is so important to him. She’s family. Family will always be there for you.

Glen loves his family, and so do I with all my heart. My dad especially means the world to me. He is my top supporter and tells me that if I need help, just “say the word.” When we are fishing or crabbing, sometimes I

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think, what if these times were erased from my memory? I wouldn’t be able to describe the horrible feeling that would rush through my mind, and I’m sure that Glen would feel the same about his wife.

My uncle once told me that the world is always going to change over time. It’s what the world has turned out to be that worries me. Both Glen and I are extremely concerned about climate change and the effect that rising temperatures have on animals and their habitats. We’re driving them to extinction. Some people might say, “So what? Animals don’t pay taxes or do any of the things we do.” What we are doing to them is like the Black Death times 100.

Glen is also frustrated by how much plastic we use and where it ends up. He would be shocked that an explorer recently dived to the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean—seven miles!— and discovered a plastic bag and candy wrappers. Glen told me that, unfortunately, his generation did the damage and my generation is here to fix it. We need to take better care of Earth because if we don’t, we, as a species, will have failed.

Both Glen and I care deeply for our families and the earth, but for our third important value, I chose education and Glen chose integrity. My education is super important to me because without it, I would be a blank slate. I wouldn’t know how to figure out problems. I wouldn’t be able to tell right from wrong. I wouldn’t understand the Bill of Rights. I would be stuck. Everyone should be able to go to school, no matter where they’re from or who they are.  It makes me angry and sad to think that some people, especially girls, get shot because they are trying to go to school. I understand how lucky I am.

Integrity is sacred to Glen—I could tell by the serious tone of Glen’s voice when he told me that integrity was the code he lived by as a former state trooper. He knew that he had the power to change a person’s life, and he was committed to not abusing that power.  When Glen put someone under arrest—and my uncle says the same—his judgment and integrity were paramount. “Either you’re right or you’re wrong.” You can’t judge a person by what you think, you can only judge a person from what you know.”

I learned many things about Glen and what’s important in life, but there is one thing that stands out—something Glen always does and does well. Glen helps people. He did it as a state trooper, and he does it in our school, where he works on construction projects. Glen told me that he believes that our most powerful tools are writing and listening to others. I think those tools are important, too, but I also believe there are other tools to help solve many of our problems and create a better future: to be compassionate, to create caring relationships, and to help others. Just like Glen Tyrell does each and every day.

Isaac Ziemba is in seventh grade at the Odyssey Multiage Program on a small island called Bainbridge near Seattle, Washington. Isaac’s favorite subject in school is history because he has always been interested in how the past affects the future. In his spare time, you can find Isaac hunting for crab with his Dad, looking for artifacts around his house with his metal detector, and having fun with his younger cousin, Conner.     

Lily Hersch

 The Crest Academy, Salida, Colo.

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The Phone Call

Dear Grandpa,

In my short span of life—12 years so far—you’ve taught me a lot of important life lessons that I’ll always have with me. Some of the values I talk about in this writing I’ve learned from you.

Dedicated to my Gramps.

In the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” author and photographer Nancy Hill asked people to name the three things that mattered most to them. After reading the essay prompt for the article, I immediately knew who I wanted to interview: my grandpa Gil.      

My grandpa was born on January 25, 1942. He lived in a minuscule tenement in The Bronx with his mother,

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father, and brother. His father wasn’t around much, and, when he was, he was reticent and would snap occasionally, revealing his constrained mental pain. My grandpa says this happened because my great grandfather did not have a father figure in his life. His mother was a classy, sharp lady who was the head secretary at a local police district station. My grandpa and his brother Larry did not care for each other. Gramps said he was very close to his mother, and Larry wasn’t. Perhaps Larry was envious for what he didn’t have.

Decades after little to no communication with his brother, my grandpa decided to spontaneously visit him in Florida, where he resided with his wife. Larry was taken aback at the sudden reappearance of his brother and told him to leave. Since then, the two brothers have not been in contact. My grandpa doesn’t even know if Larry is alive.         

My grandpa is now a retired lawyer, married to my wonderful grandma, and living in a pretty house with an ugly dog named BoBo.

So, what’s important to you, Gramps?

He paused a second, then replied, “Family, kindness, and empathy.”

“Family, because it’s my family. It’s important to stay connected with your family. My brother, father, and I never connected in the way I wished, and sometimes I contemplated what could’ve happened.  But you can’t change the past. So, that’s why family’s important to me.”

Family will always be on my “Top Three Most Important Things” list, too. I can’t imagine not having my older brother, Zeke, or my grandma in my life. I wonder how other kids feel about their families? How do kids trapped and separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border feel?  What about orphans? Too many questions, too few answers.

“Kindness, because growing up and not seeing a lot of kindness made me realize how important it is to have that in the world. Kindness makes the world go round.”

What is kindness? Helping my brother, Eli, who has Down syndrome, get ready in the morning? Telling people what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear? Maybe, for now, I’ll put wisdom, not kindness, on my list.

“Empathy, because of all the killings and shootings [in this country.] We also need to care for people—people who are not living in as good circumstances as I have. Donald Trump and other people I’ve met have no empathy. Empathy is very important.”

Empathy is something I’ve felt my whole life. It’ll always be important to me like it is important to my grandpa. My grandpa shows his empathy when he works with disabled children. Once he took a disabled child to a Christina Aguilera concert because that child was too young to go by himself. The moments I feel the most empathy are when Eli gets those looks from people. Seeing Eli wonder why people stare at him like he’s a freak makes me sad, and annoyed that they have the audacity to stare.

After this 2 minute and 36-second phone call, my grandpa has helped me define what’s most important to me at this time in my life: family, wisdom, and empathy. Although these things are important now, I realize they can change and most likely will.

When I’m an old woman, I envision myself scrambling through a stack of storage boxes and finding this paper. Perhaps after reading words from my 12-year-old self, I’ll ask myself “What’s important to me?”

Lily Hersch is a sixth-grader at Crest Academy in Salida, Colorado. Lily is an avid indoorsman, finding joy in competitive spelling, art, and of course, writing. She does not like Swiss cheese.

  “Tell It Like It Is” Interview Winner

Jonas Buckner

KIPP: Gaston College Preparatory, Gaston, N.C.

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Lessons My Nana Taught Me

I walked into the house. In the other room, I heard my cousin screaming at his game. There were a lot of Pioneer Woman dishes everywhere. The room had the television on max volume. The fan in the other room was on. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to learn something powerful.

I was in my Nana’s house, and when I walked in, she said, “Hey Monkey Butt.”

I said, “Hey Nana.”

Before the interview, I was talking to her about what I was gonna interview her on. Also, I had asked her why I might have wanted to interview her, and she responded with, “Because you love me, and I love you too.”

Now, it was time to start the interview. The first

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question I asked was the main and most important question ever: “What three things matter most to you and you only?”

She thought of it very thoughtfully and responded with, “My grandchildren, my children, and my health.”

Then, I said, “OK, can you please tell me more about your health?”

She responded with, “My health is bad right now. I have heart problems, blood sugar, and that’s about it.” When she said it, she looked at me and smiled because she loved me and was happy I chose her to interview.

I replied with, “K um, why is it important to you?”

She smiled and said, “Why is it…Why is my health important? Well, because I want to live a long time and see my grandchildren grow up.”

I was scared when she said that, but she still smiled. I was so happy, and then I said, “Has your health always been important to you.”

She responded with “Nah.”

Then, I asked, “Do you happen to have a story to help me understand your reasoning?”

She said, “No, not really.”

Now we were getting into the next set of questions. I said, “Remember how you said that your grandchildren matter to you? Can you please tell me why they matter to you?”

Then, she responded with, “So I can spend time with them, play with them, and everything.”

Next, I asked the same question I did before: “Have you always loved your grandchildren?” 

She responded with, “Yes, they have always been important to me.”

Then, the next two questions I asked she had no response to at all. She was very happy until I asked, “Why do your children matter most to you?”

She had a frown on and responded, “My daughter Tammy died a long time ago.”

Then, at this point, the other questions were answered the same as the other ones. When I left to go home I was thinking about how her answers were similar to mine. She said health, and I care about my health a lot, and I didn’t say, but I wanted to. She also didn’t have answers for the last two questions on each thing, and I was like that too.

The lesson I learned was that no matter what, always keep pushing because even though my aunt or my Nana’s daughter died, she kept on pushing and loving everyone. I also learned that everything should matter to us. Once again, I chose to interview my Nana because she matters to me, and I know when she was younger she had a lot of things happen to her, so I wanted to know what she would say. The point I’m trying to make is that be grateful for what you have and what you have done in life.

Jonas Buckner is a sixth-grader at KIPP: Gaston College Preparatory in Gaston, North Carolina. Jonas’ favorite activities are drawing, writing, math, piano, and playing AltSpace VR. He found his passion for writing in fourth grade when he wrote a quick autobiography. Jonas hopes to become a horror writer someday.

From The Author: Responses to Student Winners

Dear Emily, Isaac, Antonia, Rory, Praethong, Amanda, Lily, and Jonas,

Your thought-provoking essays sent my head spinning. The more I read, the more impressed I was with the depth of thought, beauty of expression, and originality. It left me wondering just how to capture all of my reactions in a single letter. After multiple false starts, I’ve landed on this: I will stick to the theme of three most important things.

The three things I found most inspirational about your essays:

You listened.

You connected.

We live in troubled times. Tensions mount between countries, cultures, genders, religious beliefs, and generations. If we fail to find a way to understand each other, to see similarities between us, the future will be fraught with increased hostility.

You all took critical steps toward connecting with someone who might not value the same things you do by asking a person who is generations older than you what matters to them. Then, you listened to their answers. You saw connections between what is important to them and what is important to you. Many of you noted similarities, others wondered if your own list of the three most important things would change as you go through life. You all saw the validity of the responses you received and looked for reasons why your interviewees have come to value what they have.

It is through these things—asking, listening, and connecting—that we can begin to bridge the differences in experiences and beliefs that are currently dividing us.

Individual observations

Each one of you made observations that all of us, regardless of age or experience, would do well to keep in mind. I chose one quote from each person and trust those reading your essays will discover more valuable insights.

“Our priorities may seem different, but they come back to basic human needs. We all desire a purpose, strive to be happy, and work to make a positive impact.” 

“You can’t judge a person by what you think , you can only judge a person by what you know .”

Emily (referencing your interviewee, who is battling cancer):

“Master Chief Petty Officer James has shown me how to appreciate what I have around me.”

Lily (quoting your grandfather):

“Kindness makes the world go round.”

“Everything should matter to us.”

Praethong (quoting your interviewee, Sandra, on the importance of family):

“It’s important to always maintain that connection you have with each other, your family, not just next-door neighbors you talk to once a month.”

“I wonder if maybe we relearn what is most important when we grow older. That the pressure to be successful subsides and that valuing family, health, and happiness is what ends up saving the world.”

“Listen to what others have to say. Listen to the people who have already experienced hardship. You will learn from them and you can even make their day by giving them a chance to voice their thoughts.”

I end this letter to you with the hope that you never stop asking others what is most important to them and that you to continue to take time to reflect on what matters most to you…and why. May you never stop asking, listening, and connecting with others, especially those who may seem to be unlike you. Keep writing, and keep sharing your thoughts and observations with others, for your ideas are awe-inspiring.

I also want to thank the more than 1,000 students who submitted essays. Together, by sharing what’s important to us with others, especially those who may believe or act differently, we can fill the world with joy, peace, beauty, and love.

We received many outstanding essays for the Winter 2019 Student Writing Competition. Though not every participant can win the contest, we’d like to share some excerpts that caught our eye:

Whether it is a painting on a milky canvas with watercolors or pasting photos onto a scrapbook with her granddaughters, it is always a piece of artwork to her. She values the things in life that keep her in the moment, while still exploring things she may not have initially thought would bring her joy.

—Ondine Grant-Krasno, Immaculate Heart Middle School, Los Angeles, Calif.

“Ganas”… It means “desire” in Spanish. My ganas is fueled by my family’s belief in me. I cannot and will not fail them. 

—Adan Rios, Lane Community College, Eugene, Ore.

I hope when I grow up I can have the love for my kids like my grandma has for her kids. She makes being a mother even more of a beautiful thing than it already is.

—Ashley Shaw, Columbus City Prep School for Girls, Grove City, Ohio

You become a collage of little pieces of your friends and family. They also encourage you to be the best you can be. They lift you up onto the seat of your bike, they give you the first push, and they don’t hesitate to remind you that everything will be alright when you fall off and scrape your knee.

— Cecilia Stanton, Bellafonte Area Middle School, Bellafonte, Pa.

Without good friends, I wouldn’t know what I would do to endure the brutal machine of public education.

—Kenneth Jenkins, Garrison Middle School, Walla Walla, Wash.

My dog, as ridiculous as it may seem, is a beautiful example of what we all should aspire to be. We should live in the moment, not stress, and make it our goal to lift someone’s spirits, even just a little.

—Kate Garland, Immaculate Heart Middle School, Los Angeles, Calif. 

I strongly hope that every child can spare more time to accompany their elderly parents when they are struggling, and moving forward, and give them more care and patience. so as to truly achieve the goal of “you accompany me to grow up, and I will accompany you to grow old.”

—Taiyi Li, Lane Community College, Eugene, Ore.

I have three cats, and they are my brothers and sisters. We share a special bond that I think would not be possible if they were human. Since they do not speak English, we have to find other ways to connect, and I think that those other ways can be more powerful than language.

—Maya Dombroskie, Delta Program Middle School, Boulsburg, Pa.

We are made to love and be loved. To have joy and be relational. As a member of the loneliest generation in possibly all of history, I feel keenly aware of the need for relationships and authentic connection. That is why I decided to talk to my grandmother.

—Luke Steinkamp, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

After interviewing my grandma and writing my paper, I realized that as we grow older, the things that are important to us don’t change, what changes is why those things are important to us.

—Emily Giffer, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.

The media works to marginalize elders, often isolating them and their stories, and the wealth of knowledge that comes with their additional years of lived experiences. It also undermines the depth of children’s curiosity and capacity to learn and understand. When the worlds of elders and children collide, a classroom opens.

—Cristina Reitano, City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.

My values, although similar to my dad, only looked the same in the sense that a shadow is similar to the object it was cast on.

—Timofey Lisenskiy, Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, Calif.

I can release my anger through writing without having to take it out on someone. I can escape and be a different person; it feels good not to be myself for a while. I can make up my own characters, so I can be someone different every day, and I think that’s pretty cool.

—Jasua Carillo, Wellness, Business, and Sports School, Woodburn, Ore. 

Notice how all the important things in his life are people: the people who he loves and who love him back. This is because “people are more important than things like money or possessions, and families are treasures,” says grandpa Pat. And I couldn’t agree more.

—Brody Hartley, Garrison Middle School, Walla Walla, Wash.  

Curiosity for other people’s stories could be what is needed to save the world.

—Noah Smith, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Peace to me is a calm lake without a ripple in sight. It’s a starry night with a gentle breeze that pillows upon your face. It’s the absence of arguments, fighting, or war. It’s when egos stop working against each other and finally begin working with each other. Peace is free from fear, anxiety, and depression. To me, peace is an important ingredient in the recipe of life.

—JP Bogan, Lane Community College, Eugene, Ore.

From A Teacher

Charles Sanderson

Wellness, Business and Sports School, Woodburn, Ore. 

essay about education matters

The Birthday Gift

I’ve known Jodelle for years, watching her grow from a quiet and timid twelve-year-old to a young woman who just returned from India, where she played Kabaddi, a kind of rugby meets Red Rover.

One of my core beliefs as an educator is to show up for the things that matter to kids, so I go to their games, watch their plays, and eat the strawberry jam they make for the county fair. On this occasion, I met Jodelle at a robotics competition to watch her little sister Abby compete. Think Nerd Paradise: more hats made from traffic cones than Golden State Warrior ball caps, more unicorn capes than Nike swooshes, more fanny packs with Legos than clutches with eyeliner.

We started chatting as the crowd chanted and waved six-foot flags for teams like Mystic Biscuits, Shrek, and everyone’s nemesis The Mean Machine. Apparently, when it’s time for lunch at a robotics competition, they don’t mess around. The once-packed gym was left to Jodelle and me, and we kept talking and talking. I eventually asked her about the three things that matter to her most.

She told me about her mom, her sister, and her addiction—to horses. I’ve read enough of her writing to know that horses were her drug of choice and her mom and sister were her support network.

I learned about her desire to become a teacher and how hours at the barn with her horse, Heart, recharge her when she’s exhausted. At one point, our rambling conversation turned to a topic I’ve known far too well—her father.

Later that evening, I received an email from Jodelle, and she had a lot to say. One line really struck me: “In so many movies, I have seen a dad wanting to protect his daughter from the world, but I’ve only understood the scene cognitively. Yesterday, I felt it.”

Long ago, I decided that I would never be a dad. I had seen movies with fathers and daughters, and for me, those movies might as well have been Star Wars, ET, or Alien—worlds filled with creatures I’d never know. However, over the years, I’ve attended Jodelle’s parent-teacher conferences, gone to her graduation, and driven hours to watch her ride Heart at horse shows. Simply, I showed up. I listened. I supported.

Jodelle shared a series of dad poems, as well. I had read the first two poems in their original form when Jodelle was my student. The revised versions revealed new graphic details of her past. The third poem, however, was something entirely different.

She called the poems my early birthday present. When I read the lines “You are my father figure/Who I look up to/Without being looked down on,” I froze for an instant and had to reread the lines. After fifty years of consciously deciding not to be a dad, I was seen as one—and it felt incredible. Jodelle’s poem and recognition were two of the best presents I’ve ever received.

I  know that I was the language arts teacher that Jodelle needed at the time, but her poem revealed things I never knew I taught her: “My father figure/ Who taught me/ That listening is for observing the world/ That listening is for learning/Not obeying/Writing is for connecting/Healing with others.”

Teaching is often a thankless job, one that frequently brings more stress and anxiety than joy and hope. Stress erodes my patience. Anxiety curtails my ability to enter each interaction with every student with the grace they deserve. However, my time with Jodelle reminds me of the importance of leaning in and listening.

In the article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age” by Nancy Hill, she illuminates how we “live among such remarkable people, yet few know their stories.” For the last twenty years, I’ve had the privilege to work with countless of these “remarkable people,” and I’ve done my best to listen, and, in so doing, I hope my students will realize what I’ve known for a long time; their voices matter and deserve to be heard, but the voices of their tias and abuelitos and babushkas are equally important. When we take the time to listen, I believe we do more than affirm the humanity of others; we affirm our own as well.

Charles Sanderson has grounded his nineteen-year teaching career in a philosophy he describes as “Mirror, Window, Bridge.” Charles seeks to ensure all students see themselves, see others, and begin to learn the skills to build bridges of empathy, affinity, and understanding between communities and cultures that may seem vastly different. He proudly teaches at the Wellness, Business and Sports School in Woodburn, Oregon, a school and community that brings him joy and hope on a daily basis.

From   The Author: Response to Charles Sanderson

Dear Charles Sanderson,

Thank you for submitting an essay of your own in addition to encouraging your students to participate in YES! Magazine’s essay contest.

Your essay focused not on what is important to you, but rather on what is important to one of your students. You took what mattered to her to heart, acting upon it by going beyond the school day and creating a connection that has helped fill a huge gap in her life. Your efforts will affect her far beyond her years in school. It is clear that your involvement with this student is far from the only time you have gone beyond the classroom, and while you are not seeking personal acknowledgment, I cannot help but applaud you.

In an ideal world, every teacher, every adult, would show the same interest in our children and adolescents that you do. By taking the time to listen to what is important to our youth, we can help them grow into compassionate, caring adults, capable of making our world a better place.

Your concerted efforts to guide our youth to success not only as students but also as human beings is commendable. May others be inspired by your insights, concerns, and actions. You define excellence in teaching.

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Pasadena Educational Foundation

Why Education Matters

Why good public schools are important to all of us.

Education matters to our young people – good public schools give them the tools they need:

  • to lead fulfilling and, we hope, joyful lives,
  • to become strong, contributing citizens and
  • to compete in a challenging, global economy, where perhaps now more than ever education is a key to opportunity and success.

“A good education is no longer a pathway to opportunity- it is a prerequisite.” President Barack Obama

Education matters to our entire community – to all of us, whether or not we have children or grandchildren in the public schools.  Good public schools:

  • build a stronger, better educated workforce,
  • help attract the talented, able people we need to run our businesses, our educational and cultural institutions and our many non-profits,
  • help attract and retain high quality, environmentally friendly employers offering good, well-paying jobs,
  • reduce school dropouts, delinquency, crime, incarcerations, and welfare costs,
  • increase property values,
  • support the local economy and
  • enhance the quality of life for all of us- for the entire community.

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Education matters to all Americans – to create a strong economy, a vibrant democracy, and a great country, we must educate all our young people.

Education Must Be Our Community’s Highest and Most Urgent Priority

“Without an education, you really don’t have a chance in modern life.” Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

“Strong schools are critical to ensuring a capable workforce for local business, a strong local economy, and a thriving community.” Stephen Ralph, President and CEO, Huntington Hospital

“Good public schools are a key component of our future success, and it’s very much in our interest to support them.” Charles Harrington, Chairman and CEO, Parsons Corporation

“At Avery Dennison, we believe that every student deserves the opportunity to get a great education.  Through the Avery Dennison Foundation and our employee volunteers, we support public schools in the communities in which we work and live, both here in Pasadena and around the world.  All businesses have a strong interest in the training and development of tomorrow’s leaders, but for Avery Dennison it is something more: a welcome responsibility and a rewarding experience.”  Dean Scarborough, Chairman, President & CEO, Avery Dennison Corporation

“To penetrate and dissipate the clouds of darkeness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.” Thomas Jefferson

“It just seemed to me like we needed to do a lot more to give people the opportunity to help themselves through that incredible power of education. . . .We’re so proud of the blue-chip corporate funders we have. . . .so many great companies out there that really believe that education really should be part of their corporate responsibility initiatives.” John Wood, founder, Room to Read

“Education is perhaps the most powerful tool for reducing poverty, improving health, promoting healthier economies, and providing peaceful and productive opportunities for young people around the world.” Global Campaign for Education

“We believe that when all people in the United States have the opportunity to develop their talents, our society thrives.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“Only the educated are free.” Epictetus

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Why Higher Education Matters

Our success depends on increasing access, fostering openness and serving society..

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Why Higher Education Matters

Photo: Toni Bird

By Marc Tessier-Lavigne

A merican colleges and universities serve society and are reliable engines of personal and national prosperity. They include 43 of the top 100 worldwide. Yet public trust in the value of higher education has been shaken. Families are frustrated about the costs of college. Some express concern about growing endowments. Others perceive our institutions as elitist or ideologically one-sided. Now is the time to tackle these concerns.

The stakes are high. Recently passed federal tax-reform legislation may reduce charitable contributions and stress some state education budgets. A new excise tax on endowments affects about 35 colleges and universities, including ours. Moody’s revised the 2018 outlook for higher education from “stable” to “negative.” Standard & Poor’s called it “bleak.”

What can we do to strengthen our contribution and better convey our value to society? Let’s take stock of both our strengths and what needs improvement.

Our value to society lies first in our ability to educate the next generation of citizens, critical thinkers and innovators. Affordability and access are key. From 2006 to 2016, Stanford provided $1.5 billion in scholarships and grants to our undergraduates; federal and state governments provided them $111 million. Tuition is now free for most families earning less than $125,000; one in seven Stanford undergraduates is now a first-generation college student; and 82 percent of undergraduates leave with zero debt. Despite gains, we remain focused on improving access for students from low- and middle-income families.

Fostering curiosity and free expression is also key. To be prepared for life, our students must learn how to think independently and to engage productively with diverse points of view. To help with this, the provost and I recently supported leaders at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies to team with student leaders across the political spectrum in creating a new series of moderated discussions, Cardinal Conversations, that pairs major public intellectuals who have contrasting views. In January, Reid Hoffman, ’89, and Peter Thiel, ’89, JD ’92, discussed technology and politics. Other speaker pairs will tackle a range of timely issues. We will continue identifying ways to help our students engage with a broad range of perspectives both inside and outside the classroom.

As a research university, our value also lies in advancing knowledge and in applying it to solve major societal problems. From 2012 to 2015, U.S. academic institutions were featured in 40 percent of worldwide patent citations. Stanford innovations range from a search engine to medical cures to digital music; Stanford entrepreneurs have created more than 5 million jobs since the 1930s. But the application of knowledge is not always efficient. In biomedicine, the journey from laboratory discovery to successful therapy is called the Valley of Death. We need to create new infrastructure and systems to speed up application—not just in biomedicine, but also in other disciplines.

Finally, our financial aid and academic programs are made possible by our endowment. We must be financially sound in 50 years, 100 years and beyond. Fifty years ago, Stanford cardiologists performed the first adult heart transplant in U.S. history. Recently, Stanford biologists discovered why some babies are born with heart disease. Whose heart might need healing 50 years from now? The endowment ensures our long-term capacity to support high-risk research that leads to transformative breakthroughs.

Our Long-Range Planning process has given us fresh ideas for how to advance affordability, access, free expression, and the discovery and application of knowledge. While we continually strive to improve, we must also find common ground and spread the word about the value of Stanford and all research universities.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne is the president of Stanford University.

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Education Matters Scholarship

Offered by Unigo

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1 award worth

Grade level.

All Grade Levels

Application deadline:

November 30, 2024

Scholarship Overview

Are you a student in the U.S. above the age of 14 who believes in the importance of education? If so, consider applying for the Education Matters Scholarship! Each year, the scholarship awards $5,000 to one (1) applicant who submits the best ~250-word essay answering the prompt “What would you say to someone who thinks education doesn’t matter, or that college is a waste of time and money?” If this sounds like a good opportunity for you, we encourage you to apply! Keep on reading to learn more.

About Unigo

Unigo is a premier network for current and future college students with over 3.8 million members. They provide cutting-edge tools, compelling content, and essential information, empowering students to make the best decisions about their college experience.

Eligibility information

This scholarship is open to students meeting the below eligibility criteria.

Applicants must be 14 or older.

Apply to these scholarships due soon

$10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship

$10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship

$2,000 Sallie Mae Scholarship

$2,000 Sallie Mae Scholarship

$40,000 Build a College List Scholarship

$40,000 Build a College List Scholarship

Niche $25,000 “No Essay” Scholarship

Niche $25,000 “No Essay” Scholarship

$25k “Be Bold” No-Essay Scholarship

$25k “Be Bold” No-Essay Scholarship

$10,000 CollegeXpress Scholarship

$10,000 CollegeXpress Scholarship

$1,000 Appily Easy College Money Scholarship

$1,000 Appily Easy College Money Scholarship

$5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship

$5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship

$2,000 No Essay CollegeVine Scholarship

$2,000 No Essay CollegeVine Scholarship

Application information.

To apply for this scholarship, submit the below application materials before the deadline.

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Education Next

  • Book Reviews
  • Vol. 3, No. 1

Education Matters: Selected Essays

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Education Matters: Selected Essays Edward Elgar Publishing, 2001, $120; 512 pages by Alan B. Krueger

Two opposing camps dominate contemporary discussions of how to improve America’s schools. One identifies as the central problem the limited resources currently available, while the other contends that entirely new systems of school choice and accountability are needed to promote the efficient use of resources.

These issues are among those Princeton economist Alan Krueger addresses in Education Matters , a collection of influential essays on the economics of education. Krueger is among the most prominent academic researchers advocating an increase in resources within the existing system of public schooling.

In this regard, Krueger’s essay on Tennessee’s experiment in class-size reduction, reprinted from the Quarterly Journal of Economics (1999), stands out as one of his more important contributions. The STAR experiment, which ran from 1985 through 1989, involved more than 11,000 elementary-school children in 80 Tennessee public schools. Each school assigned students to one of three types of classrooms: 1) small classes, with enrollments of 13 to 17 children; 2) regular classes with 22 to 25 children; and 3) regular classes with 22 to 25 children and a full-time teacher’s aide in the room. STAR is significant in that it is the only large-scale experiment in the United States involving the random assignment of students to classrooms of various sizes-a design rarely found in research on class size.

The results showed sizable jumps in achievement associated with the first year in a small class, but only weak evidence that additional years in a small class further enhance achievement. These results contrast with the results of nonexperimental studies, which often find no benefit from reducing class size.

It is important to note that the STAR program did not generate perfect data. Attrition rates from the study were high, and baseline test scores were not available. The experimental design was compromised on other dimensions as well. That said, Krueger does a good job of explaining the patterns in the data and placing the results in context.

Spending and Wages

Another set of papers, written with economist David Card, also finds positive relationships between education spending and economic outcomes, this time by focusing on the effect of expenditures on a person’s earnings rather than test scores. The idea is that schooling imparts a range of skills that may not be revealed by standardized tests but will show up in students’ later performance in the marketplace, a point that is certainly well taken.

Such analyses nonetheless confront a difficult statistical problem. Wages for workers of a given skill and occupation vary among different geographic labor markets. Thus levels of school spending may be correlated with wages for reasons that have nothing to do with individual skill levels.

Card and Krueger adopt a creative strategy in attempting to circumvent this dilemma. They examine how wages vary among people who currently reside in the same labor markets, but they look only at workers who live in a state other than the one in which they were born. Card and Krueger first measure the percentage increase in earnings associated with an additional year of schooling for each group of migrants who were born in the same state and in the same decade. They then examine the relationship between these rates of return to education attainment and the levels of school resources devoted to various cohorts born in a particular state. In a paper published originally in 1992 in the Journal of Political Economy , Card and Krueger report that the rate of return to an additional year of schooling was higher among men born between 1920 and 1949 in states that provided longer school terms, higher teacher salaries, and lower ratios of students to teachers.

However, a subsequent paper by economist James Heckman and his colleagues raised doubts about the assumptions in Card and Krueger’s empirical model. They showed that the Card and Krueger results were driven primarily by the high payoff of a college degree among students who attended elementary and secondary schools in states with high levels of school resources. The return to finishing high school was not higher among workers from states with well-funded high schools. I do not know exactly why this pattern of correlations emerges, but it does raise questions about the correct interpretation of Card and Krueger’s results.

Using similar strategies, Card and Krueger also examined the relationship between black-white earnings differences and black-white differences in measured school quality. These analyses are particularly interesting because they cover time periods in which many southern states provided far more resources for white schools than for schools attended by black children. The analyses used earnings data from the 1960, 1970, and 1980 Census files as well as data on school inputs in 18 segregated states from 1915 to 1966. Card and Krueger pieced together data on term length, teacher pay, and student-teacher ratios from several sources and examined whether differences in school resources among states and within states over time help to explain the variation in black-white wage differences among adults born in different states.

One set of analyses involved only blacks born in southern states who moved to specific metropolitan areas in the North. The results indicated that better-funded schools are associated with higher returns from schooling. It is possible that these analyses were compromised by nonrandom patterns of migration. However, given the low rates of college completion among southern blacks during the period they looked at, I doubt that the earnings of college graduates contribute much to the results.

As a whole, the paper provides considerable evidence that, in many southern states, the practice of separate and unequal schooling for blacks and whites during the first half of this century contributed significantly to the economic deprivation of southern blacks. Furthermore, the overall improvement of black schooling relative to white schooling, even before the integration of schools in the 1960s, contributed to the economic progress of southern blacks. These results may not speak directly to current education policy debates because no group in our society attends schools that are as poorly funded as those attended by many southern blacks before the Civil Rights Movement. However, the results are a noteworthy addition to a significant literature that documents the historical role of education policy in denying opportunity to black Americans.

Off the Table

In his final chapter, originally written for a Federal Reserve Bank of New York conference, Krueger maintains that there is no immediate need for dramatic reforms in the school system. He writes:

My personal view is that policymakers should be risk-averse when it comes to changing public school systems. To alter the institutional structure of U.S. schools radically without sufficient evidence that the “reforms” would be successful is to put our children at risk. . . . careful experimentation and evaluation should proceed on a limited basis before wide-scale institutional changes are introduced, such as vouchers, magnet schools and charter schools.

I’m sympathetic to Krueger’s position that small experiments, evaluation, and incremental implementation are the prudent course with respect to school vouchers and related reforms. However, a similar argument can be made concerning reductions in class size, although Krueger generally treats reducing class size as a straightforward reform within the existing system of public schools. For example, in his paper on the STAR experiment Krueger argues that reducing class size by roughly seven students may be expected to enhance future earnings by an amount greater than or equal in present value to the current costs of smaller classes. Krueger admits that his calculations are rough and that it is hard to place a dollar value on the potential gains from reduced class sizes, but I am equally concerned that we do not really know how much it would cost to fund a large-scale reduction in class size while maintaining the current level of teacher quality.

Recent evaluations suggest that California schools did compromise teacher quality when they were forced to reduce class sizes dramatically in a short time period, and this result is expected. Good teaching requires skills that many people do not possess, and large-scale reductions in class size require large increases in the stock of teachers. Thus, significant reductions in class size cannot likely be accomplished over a short time horizon without compromising teacher quality. Furthermore, unless there is a much larger pool of potential elementary-school teachers than I imagine there is, a large expansion of the elementary-school teaching force would likely result in a long-run reduction in average teacher quality or require significant increases in salaries. Finally, given the wage schedules in public schools, any salary increases for elementary-school teachers would likely be enjoyed by secondary-school teachers as well, even if secondary-school class sizes remained unchanged.

As it stands, a thorough analysis of these issues would have nicely complemented Krueger’s work on the STAR experiment and the other papers in Education Matters . Krueger’s research provides some of the most credible evidence that small classes yield higher achievement, but more work is needed to demonstrate that the benefits of smaller classes outweigh the likely costs.

Derek Neal is an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago.

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Doomed to Fail: The Built-In Defects of American Education by Paul A. Zoch

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by Bryan Hassel

Why educating women is more important than we realize

essay about education matters

The Times of India

The Stri or the Female Energy is the creatrix, mother of all gods, conqueror of all evil, dispenser of all boons in the Indian culture. She is considered the divine power of the universe from where all beings are born. This divine female energy is worshipped with intense adoration and devotion in India.

Yet, it is in India itself that we find the most intense contradiction towards the female shakti.

On one hand we surrender to the divine Durga to protect us and on the other hand we look down upon the feminine principle with condemnation, contempt, cause of all failures, source of lust and miseries.

An Indian woman suffers this wrath both in her mind and heart right from her birth. She struggles to understand her true role, position, and identity in human society. She lives in a dilemma, wondering whether to relate to the feminine deities being erected all around her or to an unborn female avatar which was never allowed to be born.

Since ancient times women have not been denied legal, social, and educational rights in India but certainly in practise they have been more preoccupied and confined to domestic affairs and that is where their social subordination began.

Despite such subjugation, women have survived important roles such as bold householders, strong mothers, queens, administrators, warriors, elected representatives and leaders. Therefore, despite oppression and denial, India has, time and again, truly experienced the shakti of this female creative force.

The way forward for India and humans in general is to treat the Female Shakti (The Feminine Powerhouse) with respect, deep regard, equal access to experiences, learning and opportunities. All sexes should be allowed to find, above all sexual differences, their full inner potential.

India, the land of diversity and contrast, India the ardent worshipper of the Shakti-The Durga can perhaps lead mankind into human success based in deep regard for the deep inner potential, intellectual prowess and ingenuity of women. Denying women their due place is denying mankind its due success.

Women Across the Globe

The battle for legal, civil, social, and educational equality is a central element of woman’s rights globally. However, a deeper understanding of the women’s needs has revealed that in daily life they struggle to voice their objections and opinions, struggle to agree or disagree, condemn, or promote, speak, share, discuss, and struggle to manage, participate and lead.

Therefore, it would not be incorrect to state that the battle is only half won if the women get access to education and opportunities but no access to exercise their will.

Women across the globe may be characterized by diversity in feminine energy and feminine approach to life, work, family, and society yet their basic emotional, psychological, physical, mental, intellectual, social, professional, and creative needs tie them together to a common cause. The common cause being-women across the globe want to be active participants and decision makers in their own lives and refuse the passivity that is expected of them.

A modern progressive woman prides herself with all her feminine virtues. She wishes to embrace her own self in entirety not to put men down but only to break out of an oppressed state so that she can realize her own untapped full potential.

Women today are capable of and want to accumulate the advantages of both the sexes, but she is not willing to pay an unfair price for achieving this. For instance, a young mother wants the right to work or not to work to lie within the realms of her decision-making powers.

She wishes to be able to make a choice between scenarios where in one she wishes to fully involve herself in her motherhood and suspend her professional aspirations without being made to feel undeserving or financially dependent. Or in another scenario where she wishes to strike a balance between her motherhood and professional duties and yet not labelled as irresponsible and selfish. Such a state of choice with dignity would be true liberation for a young mother.

Equal Education is a Steppingstone Towards Gender Equality, Quality Socialization and Economic Growth

Denying women access to equal and quality education opportunities encourages gender segregation and stereotypical behaviour in society. Perceptions towards gender roles are sowed by members of family and society very early on in the lives of men and women which adversely impacts the quality of the socialization process.

Creating gender neutral learning environments can serve as a steppingstone to quality socialization. This in turn can help in creating favourable position for women in creative, scientific, technological, professional endeavours and lessen their personal and social struggles.

Any society that denies and discourages women from boldly participating in the learning process is only encouraging biased patterns that are deeply rooted in promoting the influential masculine identity.

Quality education can help both men and women understand these deep-seated issues in our society, raise their collective and individual levels of awareness, understand the importance of all people, irrespective of sex, in building a healthy and conscious society. In order to ensure sustainable development, it has become imperative to recognize the importance of all the sexes.

When a girl is educated, she is empowered. She can make her own decisions, raise the standard of living for her family and children, create more job opportunities, and reform society as a whole. As a result, a shift in attitudes toward girl child education in India is urgently needed. Every girl child deserves to be treated with love and respect. If all girls complete their education and participate in the workforce, India could add a whopping $770 billion to the country’s GDP by 2025!

Some Important Statistics

As per statistics presented by UNICEF, 129 million girls are out of school around the world, including 32 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67 million of upper-secondary school age.

Borgen Project, a US based not for profit, study has revealed that every year, 23 million girls in India drop out of school after they begin menstruating due to lack of sanitary napkin dispensers and overall hygiene awareness in schools.

As per National Survey of India, Literacy Rate in India has increased from 73% in 2011 to 77.7% in 2022, however it still stands behind the global literacy rate which stands at 86.5% (as per UNESCO). Of the 77.7% Indian literacy rate in 2022, male literacy rate stands at 84.7% and female literacy rate stands at 70.3% as compared to global average female literacy rate of 79% (as per UNESCO).

There are several factors that influence poorer literacy rates in women as compared to men, the biggest and most crucial factors being inequality and sex-based discrimination. This discrimination pushes the girl child to either never be born (female infanticide) or the woman to be predominantly pushed into household affairs.

Low enrolment rates, high dropout rates, social discrimination, unsafe public spaces, prioritizing boy child education are some other important factors that negatively influence female education.

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Sponsoring Institution: UNIGO

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Eligibility: This essay contest is for U.S. students. Must be 14 years of age or older to apply. Must be a legal U.S. resident. Must reside in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia.

Application Deadline: Late November. Winners are announced near the end of February. Note that all submitted work becomes the property of the sponsoring organization.

Highlight: Sometimes, allowing yourself to just sit back and step out of the intensity of life, will help you look at the bigger picture. Unigo’s Education Matters essay scholarship reminds you, your goals and passions through answering an eye opening question, “What would you say to someone who thinks education doesn’t matter, or that college is a waste of time and money?” Applicants of this essay’s scholarship must be over 14 and reside in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. For this essay scholarship, students must submit a response of only 250 words.. or LESS!  So, now’s the time to collect your thoughts and and consider what you’d say to that person you may know who diminishes the importance of education! The deadline for this essay contest is Late November. Winners of this essay contest will be announced around late February. Apply now! And reconnect with your original purpose through UNIGO Education Matters Essay Scholarship!

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