Education is a prime determinant of our lives: It provides us with knowledge and skills to utilize in our everyday live; it broadens the horizon of our knowledge to allow for incorporating new aspects into the entirety of our experiences; it offers us the chance to explore our strengths, our weaknesses, our limits and thus ourselves as a multi-facetted individual. In the context of this report of my thoughts, education does in no way equal schooling; instead, it describes the total experiences we make that form who we are, how we think and how we act.
Set forth as a fundamental, inalienable right in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the right to education applies to every single human.1 While “everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages“,2 the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) still estimates more than 65 million children to be deprived of the possibility to attain as little as basic education.3 While the literacy and school enrolment figures have been improving over the past years and the international community continues to dedicate itself to further fostering children’s education, I feel that one key aspect of receiving education is forgotten.
To receive education is a fundamental, universal right; to be able to utilize one’s potential is a privilege resulting from the granting of this right. With it comes to chance to explore one’s personality, to widen one’s horizon – a chance that can only be offered by the joint effort of individuals working to better the lives of their students. By opening their minds to the world around them, youths are enabled to actively participate in the society around them, shaping their lives and the lives of those around them conscious of the consequences of their actions.
Having (up to the point of time this text was written) received a fairly high level of education and standing on the verge a phase in my life in which I will set out the path of my future, one question is ubiquitous: What comes next? How will I use the chance I have been given by an education laying a solid yet wide-ranging foundation? How do I wish to use my skills, talents, and potential? What can I do to satisfy my drive for content? Financial aspects hold little sway over me; so does the prospect of achieving a position entailed by reputation and respect; but then, what is it that can satisfy me?
Thinking about how to use my future, one recurring thought determines most of my considerations: How will I be able to influence my social environment and which imprint do I wish to leave? The main reason I am in a position to consider countless opportunities is that my social environment invested an enormous effort into providing me with the knowledge and skills I can now further develop; was it not for a supportive family and schooling staff that faced its own difficulties and sometimes tended to become an obstacle towards progress itself, I would not be where I currently am.
Considered a normality in Germany far too frequently, education being provided by society as a whole instead of singular parties marks a remarkable development in social solidarity. Acknowledging all the faults and flaws of this system, it is this social solidarity that I esteem the key towards lasting and sustainable improvement. I profited from a multitude of individuals’ resolve to jointly lay the groundwork for an improved future. This brings an opportunity in itself, an opportunity that I dare call an obligation: I received tremendous support, and I feel that it is now up to me to share this support with others. I feel that, by being educated and by being offered the choice of how to shape my own future, I must give others the same possibility; that others, too, deserve the choice I had, that I can work towards building a society that allows youths to develop into mature, reflected, considerate individuals.
The most obvious way of pursuing this aim is to work in the sector of education. Modern societies are, however, far more complex and offer other paths towards supporting a favourable development. This does require thoughtfulness and consideration of our actions’ consequences. Setting this as a prerequisite for all decisions I make and estimating the effect of my decisions on others is my way of accepting and endorsing my responsibility towards the global and local society I inhabit. It stems from me being a product of my environment and my environment, on the other side, being in parts shaped by me. It is the basic guideline that my considering of how others and me opened the position I am in to myself led me to. Moulded by the circumstances I was born and grew up in, the key determinant of my life so far has been the education I received, the experiences offered to me by the society that raised me. I can not deny the effects these external factors had on me, and so I embrace them and consider it a responsibility and duty to actively work towards bettering the lives of others around me – a consequence of the education I was offered.
1http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/; first accessed: 09/01/2017, 20:47
2Ibid.; first accessed: 09/01/2017, 20:51
3http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/education-building-blocks/literacy/resources/statistics; first accessed: 09/01/2017