Making Education Accessible: The Understated Key to Changing the World
Sindhuri Ivaturi, Division 2, 10th grade
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For as long as human civilization has existed, the education of the mind has been placed at a degree of importance unequaled even by primal human desires, like nutrition and wealth; yet, as we hurtle into the twenty-first century at full throttle, with technologies that seemingly make nearly anything possible, we find ourselves living in a world in which nearly 72 million school-aged children do not have the opportunity to acquire the education they need to rise out of the poverty-stricken neighborhoods in which they live (Humanium Children’s Rights Foundation) . Even as far back as 300 B.C.E., people living in ancient civilizations such as Greece or India placed an unrivaled importance on the education of future generations, and often times, even defined social standings by one’s knowledge and literacy. How, then, can we passively live in a world where education, even after hundreds of years and thousands of advancements in almost every field, is still not something that everyone can take for granted? How can we continue to rest knowing that there are others on our very own planet without the basic human right to opening the door of knowledge? And, more importantly, how can we stand still when we, as fortunate and successful students and citizens of the world, can truly do something to make a difference in the mobilization of education for our own peers?

Indeed, education is a right as important as the rights to free speech or religion, but it is often left out in social and political discussions by world leaders, and tends to be pushed aside or tacked onto the end of the ever-growing list of the world’s social issues. As a high school student fortunate enough to attend a school in which I can get a quality education that will prepare me for the day that I enter the fiercely competitive world of the workplace, I see first-hand the obvious benefits of education. On a philosophical standpoint, everyone agrees that education is important, and yet, no one seems to be able to devise a plan for making that sacred tool accessible to every child. I understand that educating the entire world is a daunting task, but nevertheless, I am not discouraged; in fact, I believe that the key to making education accessible, and therefore giving children in all parts of the world a key to unlocking their own untapped potential, starts at home, with educating the neglected, the impoverished, and the all-too-often ignored youth of our own neighborhoods.

A jolting eighty percent of underprivileged children coming from low-income families perform below grade level standards for literacy. That’s compared to fifty-seven percent of students overall, from all income levels and ethnic backgrounds (Students First Organization). The divide between poverty and education is wide, and apparently so. The dreaded question then still remains: how do we, as a global community, bridge that divide and tackle the problem that has plagued our nation and our world for decades? The answer lies in the youth of today working with their communities to pull their less fortunate peers across to the other side, away from the island of poverty, crime, and neglect, and towards the world of opportunity, acceptance, and, ultimately, knowledge.

In order to put that powerful idea into action, I decided to do my part in educating the future of tomorrow, by initiating a program at my high school that connects successful, college bound high school students with elementary school students in the poorer communities of our city. As a resident of the bright-light, bustling city of Houston, I know that for every student that has the support that he or she needs to succeed in an academic career, there are five others that simply do not have the resources they need to achieve what their more fortunate counterparts can. The program I started at my school, called “Homework Helpers”, is one in which about fifty of my peers and I travel to local elementary schools in impoverished neighborhoods with student bodies of over ninety-five percent underprivileged students, and offer the children there a chance to explore the uncharted territories of their own minds. It amazes me every time to see the transformation from an uninterested, neglected child to a student of the world with a fiery passion for learning. Needless to say, it is deeply gratifying to be able to say that I and my fellow peers played a small role in lighting that fire that will forever burn in their hearts, etching into their minds that education truly is the key to unlocking the future.

Homework Helpers allowed me to broaden my perspective on the issue of making education more accessible to students across all income backgrounds. I realized that, as high school students who are lucky enough to be born into families that can support educating their children, it is our responsibility and our duty as global citizens to take it upon ourselves to make education an inalienable right without boundaries, blind to ethnicity, gender or income. Education has the unique power to produce an army of educated minds that can take on the world’s growing challenges, so we must be the pioneering generation that takes the initiative to secure the future of tomorrow by educating the youth of today. To achieve that goal, high school students all over the country and the world have to join together to create programs like Homework Helpers that can empower the powerless in a fight against deadly poverty. I believe that small missions like the program I started at my school, together with similar programs across the country, can compound the transformative effect of building the bridge over the deep divide between poverty and education. By doing my part in building that bridge, I am doing my part to make education accessible to everyone; by doing my part in making a poverty-stricken educational desert into an opportunity rich oasis, I am doing my part in making the world a better place.
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