When growing up, there was a swahili song on the radio that had all parents and teachers excited. “Someni Vijana” they bleated out of tune, hoping to
manipulate encourage us at the time to get an education. The lyrics basically say study young people, increase the level of your effort, at the end of your education/studies, you will get a great job.
Muongeze bei ya bidii,
Mwisho wa kusoma,
Mutapata kazi nzuri sana
That was the 90s. That was Africa. That was within structural adjustment. A lot young people followed that formula only to be disillusioned by economies that were neither ready to absorb them nor appreciate their talents or skills in any monetarily gainful manner as promised.
This is 2012, and a lot of young people (and young at heart 🙂 ) find themselves in a similar situation, around the globe. Recession has become such a part of our vocabulary in a way we never thought possible. Yet it is in such contexts that the gap between rich and poor increases even more. I’m in a field called population health and one of the things we look at are the Social Determinants of Health (SDH). Basically the premise is that there are many factors that lead to health and well being including your gender, your income, your education, etc there are 14 of them. I wont bore you with the details so if you’d like to read more about them especially in the Canadian context you can go here for more information. Education has been recognized globally as a major factor for coming out of poverty and ending the cycle of generational poverty.
The bible talks alot about generational blessings up to the third and fourth generation. Sometimes as Christians we stop there and assume that God will bless us by dropping a million dollars in our lap and then we don’t have to work another day and bam! Generational blessings. I know I have prayed that prayer before, but then after not seeing the ‘manifestation’ I realised that hey maybe I need to get off my butt and partner with God through this process. And for clarification, there is NO bible verse that says God helps those who help themselves, though for many years I could’ve sworn it was there. There is however a verse that says “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.” (Proverbs 24:33-34).
Often I hear the argument that there are numerous people who didn’t have a college education who did great – and this is very true. In many of those cases though, ‘those’ people worked their butts off doing something else and I’ll post on this soon.
Education will get you on the economic ladder even within the context of student loans and here I am talking about breaking cycles of poverty. For some people based on their background either economic, ethnic, racial or gender, imagining a university education is an obvious expectation and getting a bachelors degree or a masters degree is not even an achievement worth writing home about. But for the rest of us, it is often a dream that we couldn’t or wouldn’t even begin to see ourselves achieving. For many who get a bachelors degree, they are the first in their family to get a university degree, let alone a masters or a PhD.
Now if you are going to get an education I encourage you to balance out choosing a major or an area that you are passionate about with something practical in which you can get a job. Why? Because while it is quite inspiring to be studying something you are extremely interested in, its quite frustrating to graduate and not be able to get a job. Finding that right balance is really important because at the end of the day you cant offer up passion to your landlord as rent and you’re grumbling stomach can only eat ‘passion’ for so long.
There are so many options for careers these days. I remember when I was in high school the ‘smart’ kids – aka the kids who learned the system and were great at regurgitating the information – were often told: you should be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. Those were the only 3 options. If you liked science – doctor, if you liked arts – lawyer, if you liked to build things – engineer. If you liked art, whats wrong with you, pick one of the first 3 (unless you came from a wealthy family in which case they told you you could be whatever you want to be). Unfortunately even in funding patterns in higher education, these three fields still gain more resources than the arts.
That being said, we have evolved tremendously since then and there are so many more career options available.
Most professional careers require some form of education. We are slowly moving into a conceptual age where we are selling ideas, and people want to know more about what people think – so many industries are now research driven, rather than what people do. So there’s great value in having a masters as you position yourself to think analytically and use those skills to help others figure out what they want to do. Check out this post where I share some thoughts on why do a masters degree.
So all this to say that there is a lot of evidence to support the fact that education is important and a higher education makes a difference generationally not only in terms of your wealth but in terms of your health and wellbeing.
Little did Henry Makobi know that he was preaching the gospel of the social determinants of health when he sang “Someni Vijana”. The principles of this simple song still hold true. Education is transformational. It changes your expectations of yourself and your family.
And learning is NEVER a waste of time.