Never too old to learn

Rounded Rectangle: © Ymke Oerlemans, 2012

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Blog of the little girl in the big city

In my opinion, education is the basics of civilization. If you donít have a good educational system, how do you expect your youth to be great leaders in the future? So any developed, western nation should have a good system for education and many believe the United States to be the frontrunner in that area. But over the last couple of weeks I have learned that one could argue against the latter statement.

During my internship in Ghana, I have come to be a strong believer in education. The availability of good education to all is what makes a country civilized and based on equality. Equal rights and opportunities! The difference between a country like Ghana and the Netherlands is that in Ghana not everybody has access to good education. In some regions there are simply no schools, while in others schools are overcrowded, which decreases the quality of education. On top of that, if you come from a wealthy family, you can pay for a private school, which increases your chances later on in life. This increases the inequality in a country. Basically it comes down to this; the poor and uneducated are bound to stay that way. The Netherlands provides good education for everybody. Parents are legally obliged to send their children to school and in principle, everybody has the chance to get a diploma and therefore a chance at a job.

One would think the United States would have a similar system, where everybody has a chance of a good education. And with the world famous universities like Harvard and Yale, my perception was that the United States had one of the best educational systems in the world. But that seems to be a little bit off the truth.

Of course, the United States is home to some of the best schools in the world, and in theory everybody can get into these great schools, either with support from their parents or with a scholarship from the government.† The reality is, unfortunately, somewhat different. The United States has a system of private and public schools. The private schools are very expensive and operate basically apart from the government. One can only get into such a school when they have the money to pay for the education. They are not subject to the same monitoring and scrutiny as the public schools. Public schools are open to anyone and everyone and are funded by the government. Therefore, their students, teachers and schools are rated based upon mandatory test they have to take. However, for schools to get a better rating is nearly impossible, since the level of the students depends on the neighborhood you are in. Students cannot choose a school freely; they are obliged to go to the school in their area. For example, when a school is located in an area with a lot of immigrants who have language difficulties, it is hard for this school to get a good rating because their students do worse on the national test compared to average.

The area your parents live in seems to determine the kind of education you get. It seems to me that the education system in the States is somewhat unfair. They might not have a monarchy here and they are opposed to status and wealth based upon inheritance, but their education system seems to head in that direction. To get a good education, you donít necessarily have to be intelligent, you just have to be lucky enough to be born into a wealthy family.