The Right to an Education

Yolanda - East Lansing, Michigan
Entered on January 23, 2011
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I believe that an education is a person’s best self-investment. No one was born with enough knowledge and wisdom to sustain them without outside assistance. Therefore, everyone has the necessity to learn throughout their lives.

I came to this belief while teaching an adult literacy class as a Peace Corps volunteer in a rural town in the Dominican Republic. The country has an illiteracy rate of 25 percent for adults and drastically higher for poor Haitian immigrants, who come to the Dominican Republic taking jobs for lower pay than the Dominican nationals.

In my literacy class, the students were female Haitian farm laborers. They were functionally illiterate and unable to calculate basic math problems. Because of this, they were taken advantaged of at stores and in receiving wages from employers. They were unable to read directions on medication bottles or food preparation labels. They came to my class as a way to learn to carry out daily activities better and to avoid being taken advantaged of again.

A year later, the students graduated from the class by being able to read in complete sentences and do simple arithmetic problems. An equal achievement was the emotional growth they experienced. For the first time in their lives, the students acknowledged that they lacked an important skill and determined to change that with a long-term commitment to improve their lives by learning to read, write, add and subtract.

Although I taught the students a great deal in that year, they taught me an equally valuable lesson. Everyone is inherently intelligent and capable of learning a new skill to better their lives financially, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Therefore, an education is a necessity to every person in the world, in order to live a fulfilled life.