Tag Archives: United Nations

Free Education

Education is a human right. Let’s get that straight. It is a fundamental human right, and the United Nations says so.

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Meet a young Cambodian girl who ‘hearted’ us when my Qatar Academy students and I went into the jungle for Week Without Walls (a week of experiential learning outside of the school, something every school should have). We went to paint this little girl’s humble school with a new coat of love. We hear you. We will never forget you. We know that there are people on this planet who have LITTLE to NO access to education, and it is unacceptable. It is a moral imperative that everyone with the means to provide it do what must be done to uplift the situation and provide children AND adults with education and further education. Because education is a fundamental human right. 

Cambodian heart
Click the photo to see more.

Daphne Koller of Stanford University tells us this, articulately and intelligently, from experience.

We’ve got children in the world who cannot get an education. And we also have the problem of adults on this planet who cannot get a decent means to work. The issue for adults is an economic one. The costs associated with post-secondary education have risen exponentially in recent years to the point where education has become as hefty an investment as a house. It frightens people. And some like Dr. Joel McDurmon refuse to pay. He penned ‘B.A. to Ph.D. for under $15,000: How I did it‘ and it’s an eye-opener. Straight talk about how to get an alternative education, and it can only have gotten easier in the 21st Century. Right? Not quite. 

The question is: why should we force people into economic hardship to gain an education? If you look deeper into this issue, you’ll find that others have asked this question and provide solutions for not only those living in developing nations but also those everywhere who are willing but entrapped in the confines of their lives, working to eke out a living, unable to afford to take the time off to study to change their circumstances.

Nothing comes for free, of course. Education is a human resource heavy industry. Without teachers and instructors, there can be no education. They create the curriculum and, as such, there are costs to an education. But governments and industry partner up to subsidise these costs. And that’s another debate. The assumption in this article is that willing parties will find ways to pay for and provide affordable educational solutions to all. For if we don’t educate the masses, the price we pay at the societal level is ignorance, and ignorance costs a lot.


US-based Campaign for Educational Equity shows us: Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 09.24.46Read the full report here.

The UK media has been yowling for some time about the mismatch between graduates and employers. The costs of the lack of adequate educational provision are real. Look at these headlines:

Employers want education system to better prepare young people for life outside school gates – CBI/Pearson Study

Schools should do more to prepare students for work

The Canadian government recognises the problem, too, in this article:

At its most basic, he said, Canada’s rapidly changing economy needs workers with trades certificates, community college diplomas and university degrees. Workers with less than that already cost the country $24.3 billion in lost productivity.

Several numbers back up Munro’s argument:

• 81 per cent of jobs lost during the recent recession were suffered by workers without any post secondary education.

• Between 1990 and 2012, the employment rate for people whose education ended at high school fell to 48 per cent from 58 per cent.

•In Hamilton, the number of people working in jobs that require higher education has grown to 59 per cent from 55 per cent in 2006 and between Jan. 1 last year and this year the economy created 167,500 jobs for college and university graduates while losing 85,400 positions for those without post secondary education.

•Workers with less than high school have an average unemployment rate of 11 per cent and earn an average of $32,029 a year compared to 4.5 per cent and $56,048 for those with an undergraduate degree.

Even if an under-educated worker can find a job, Munro warned there’s a real financial penalty — over a 40-year career having high school or less means earning $745,800 less than someone with a degree.

“It’s clear that to be employable in this economy a person needs some level of post secondary education,” he said. “Without that you’ll have real trouble in this economy.”


But, Houston, we have a problem. Putting costs aside, universities and colleges are in trouble. They’re not able to keep up with the real demands of the world. The Economist says so: higher education is ‘not what it used to be‘. Why? Because information is a river. It’s free-flowing. It’s an ocean. It’s vast, deep, much deeper than a few navigators can manage. It’s bigger than us all, and we must filter this information more effectively to allow people to develop themselves in accordance with the needs of the world we live in.

What our students should know in the 21st Century can be epitomised in a few words:


But what does it mean? It means that the world has gone mobile. We have access to learning everywhere because of technology. Thus learning can and must be more individually tailor-made. nutshell_21c_learning-001In adult terms, this is what our world looks like and society needs to get to grips with it. Governments, higher institutions and employers, too, all bear the responsibility of educating adults.


The world is changing. Information is like air. Data is everywhere, free-flowing, and accessible to virtually everyone for very little money, really, if you juggle the economics. The responsibility to ensure that education is provided to all affordably is a must. It is a moral and practical imperative. It would be innovative to think then that education should be provided to us all – for free.

Khan Academy and Coursera are leaders in this regard. Go get what you can.

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And if you’re looking for other alternatives to reducing the costs of university or college, look here: