The power of education to solve #deeperproblems

Paul Boag

I love working in the education sector. Education can change lives. But not everybody has access to the education they so desperately need. As a UX designer I am not satisfied with solving the user experience problems of students in the west. I want to help with #deeperproblems too.

Recently I announced my not-so-hidden agenda. An agenda that is not satisfied solving #firstworldproblems but wants to also address the deeper issues in our world. One example of this is education.

I do a lot of work in the higher education sector here in the UK and abroad. I am proud of this work because education brings with it empowerment. A good education allows you to escape the poverty trap, benefit society and bring about cultural change. Education changes lives.

But education in the west is well established. Higher education faces challenges that I am helping address. But generally speaking the future of education here is secure. Not so in other parts of the world.

Inforgraphic about the inequality for women in India.
The inequality and hardship suffered by young girls in India is staggering.

The shocking truth

Take for example India. In India education among girls is shocking. 50% of girls in india fail to enrol in education. Of the 50% that do, only 50% of them go on to graduate.

The sad truth is that poor families in India see girls as a burden. When you are living on less than £1 per day (as 80% of families in India do) many feel they are unable to support a girl. Girls are often aborted or killed after birth because the family sees no way out. We cannot begin to comprehend this thinking. But we cannot begin to comprehend the lives they lead.

For many poor families the best they can hope for is to marry off a daughter as soon as possible. Many girls get married as young as 13. In fact a shocking 75% of women are underage when married.

This is why education is so important. Education has the power to break this cycle of poverty and abuse.

Education can break the cycle of poverty and abuse

Take for example the story of Rachel. Rachel and her sister came from a small rural community. Her family was so poor that they didn’t own a house. They lived in a small hut on somebody else’s property.

Her mother couldn’t support both her children. So a charity called the Bethesda Project took her in. A charity I have chosen to support in my business. Sarah and Simon (who run the project), housed, clothed and fed Rachel. They became her family. But most importantly they provided Rachel with an education.

Girls at the Bethesda Project get the education they need to break free from the cycle of poverty and forced marriage.
Girls at the Bethesda Project get the education they need to break free from the cycle of poverty and forced marriage.

In fact Rachel did so well at school that she got the qualifications to study as a doctor. A young girl from a small rural community left her region for the first time in her life to study in China. Can you imagine the culture shock? But she succeeded and now works in India as a doctor providing health care to others in need.

And what of her younger sister? The one who didn’t get that education? Her family married her off at 13 and she had her first child at 14. That is the difference education can make!

Don’t be satisfied with solving #firstworldproblems

What Sarah and Simon do at the Bethesda Project blows my mind. I could never do that. I could never live as they have chosen to live. All to help children like Rachel. The sacrifice involved is beyond me. I am too selfish. Too materialistic. But I can support them financially. To be honest that is the least I can do.

Because what is the point of solving #firstworldproblems for users? How unimportant are those if we don’t also address the real world problems all around us?

But let me leave you with an encouraging thought. Rachel’s younger sister has already enrolled her child in the Bethesda school. A school subsidised by people like us. She recognises the power of a good education to change lives and I for one want to support her in giving her child a better life.

If you chose to share this post, please use the hashtag #deeperproblems. I would also love to know about the causes you support. Share them in the comments.