HART Prize for Human Rights 2018| ‘Why Education is important for Development and Democracy, and what does it mean to me?’

20 March 2018

With the most number of entries we’ve ever received, the competition was even harder with such exceptional submissions that demonstrated inspiring passion for Human Rights advocacy. 

Joint 3rd place winner Alice Smith with Baroness Cox

Alice Smith, 14, won 3rd place in our HART Prize for Human Rights Junior Essay Category 2018 with her essay titled:

‘Why Education is important for Development and Democracy, and what does it mean to me? 

Education, in my view, is the most important thing. Through my education I have become more open to others’ ideas, and I have learned to lead, and cooperate with others, as well as form my own views and ideas. My education has allowed me to try new languages and art forms, in an environment that is supportive, and helps me to succeed. I have had so many opportunities because of my education, but in countries like Nigeria, many young people are being deprived of an education, this is unacceptable. Education should not be seen a privilege but as a right, for it is the key to democracy and development.

With 60% of the population in Nigeria living below the poverty line, it is a prime example of a country where a lack of affordable basic necessities means children may work or marry to support their family, instead of receiving or finishing basic education. In many areas there are too few schools: for example, in Makoko, where the population is 250,000, the children only have access to one primary school and a nursery. In the north of Nigeria another factor is preventing children from accessing education: Boko Haram. With its name translating to “western education is forbidden,” the group has destroyed or forced the closure of over 2,400 schools. In my eyes education is the key to a better future, and Boko Haram is destroying that for Nigeria.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” said Malala Youafzia, who was shot in the head, neck and shoulders by the Taliban in Pakistan, after publicly campaigning for girls’ education. Now, Malala has recovered and spends her life fighting for equal education for girls and boys. For each year spent at secondary school, a women’s future income increases by 10 to 20%. Just by educating 1% more women the gross income increases by 0.3%. This shows that education can improve the lives of the both the educated and the uneducated. Children also experience a better childhood, going to school, learning and playing, instead of working for long hours. With education, job prospects improve, meaning people can move out of poverty and have a better quality of life.

Creating a more developed country is only possible through education. Industry can be built around new ideas, and profits can add to the economy. People are able to spend money on more than their basic needs. Producers are then able to make more and sell more which increases their earnings, which they can then use to buy other goods, which can increase the earnings of another producer. This is an ongoing cycle that can continuously boost the economy, but is only possible by consumers earning enough to be able to spend on non-necessities. With a stronger economy, quality of life improves, because of investment in infrastructure and healthcare. On average 195,000 children die globally each year of Pertussis, a preventable disease which can be mostly eradicated if access to healthcare is improved: this can be achieved by a country becoming more developed through education.

There is less racism and gender inequality in an educated society. People understand others’ backgrounds and beliefs, and women can move out of the home and into the workplace. Women will be seen as equals because of having had the same opportunities in education as men. Also, through education, individuals can become more culturally well rounded and can explore different views and ideas.

Democracy is formed because of a desire for representation. In the Nigerian election of 2015, 51% of the 67,422,055 registered voters voted. Through education this number should rise, because of people becoming more politically engaged and wanting a way to influence the path of their country that better represents their views and beliefs.

In Nigeria, where other issues have moved education down the government’s agenda, I think they should be putting education first, because any challenges being faced now can be better addressed in the future by an educated youth. With education, we all have the power to change the world and if we want a more democratic and developed group of nations in the future, then we must educate the young who will lead us in the years to come. Although under twenty-fives make up less than 45% of the global population now, we are 100% of the future.

See the full list of HART Prize for Human Rights 2018 winners and shortlisted entries here

Back to News

Help our local partners realise their vision of hope for their communities