Education is something we sometimes take for granted. While in high school and college, many of us skipped classes to grab a nap, attend a ball game, go on vacation or hang out with friends.
This week, a group of Sheridan folks brought a film called “Girl Rising” to the Centennial Theatre.
People filled the seats and were eager to see the documentary, which outlined the challenges women in the world still face when trying to gain access to education.
It followed the experiences of several girls in varying countries — Cambodia, India, Nepal, Egypt, Peru, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Haiti. The film could have easily been a bit of a downer. But, somehow, some of those who left the theater that night expressed hope.
The women and girls portrayed in the film were beaten, sexually assaulted, held as slaves and typically too poor to afford an education. According to facts and figures discussed in “Girl Rising,” there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school worldwide. Other facts discussed included that girls with eight years of education are four times less likely to be married as children. Also, educated mothers are twice as likely to send their children to school.
The World Bank claims that a girl with an extra year of education can earn 20 percent more as an adult. But still women struggle to gain access, to the detriment of not only the girls, but our worldwide economy. For example, if India enrolled 1 percent more girls in secondary school, the country’s gross domestic product would rise by $5.5 billion.
The girls in the film were portrayed as determined, stubborn and motivated to learn. While those characteristics are not true of all children — male or female — it is sad that sometimes here in the U.S. we forget how lucky we truly are to have access to a public education system. It is an imperfect system, to be sure, but it is one that any child can attend.
The ability to pay is no matter and all children (and those who encourage them) can benefit.
In the U.S., approximately 98 percent of 14- and 15-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2009. Some 69 percent of young adults (18-24) were enrolled in school that same year. This is significantly higher than the 46 percent enrolled in 1980.
We are making forward strides.
There are many projects — globally, nationally and with local connections — that help promote education in our communities. You can donate money, you can volunteer and you can even travel the world to help others. But the thought really needs to begin at home.
Helping those without access to education is beneficial, for sure, but encouraging those who already have access to education to take advantage and appreciate the opportunities presented to them is an equally noble cause.