In the UK, children expect to go to school. Actually, they are expected to. It’s the law. And the privilege is free. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic removed children in almost every country from their classrooms. We chatted to some of our younger UK Tearfund supporters about the future-building privilege of education.
‘At first I wanted to not go to school because I thought it was very boring, but when lockdown happened, I realised how lucky we are to have a school. I am now excited to go back. Now I am never going to complain about not liking school. Lockdown has taught me to be grateful for something that we have to have. During lockdown we have been asking questions like “When are we going to school?” – I thought we would never need to ask that.’ (Kirsty, 12, starting Year 8)
Evan’s mum: What’s better about being at school?
Evan: The teaching – even though you’re a qualified teacher.
Evan’s mum: What do you miss most about school?
Evan: (Pause. Wobbly voice.) My friends.
(Evan, 8, starting Year 3)
‘Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, many people’s schooling has been disrupted... we were forced to work from home, which is full of many difficulties. My main one was concentrating when there are so many distractions… Also you are without true motivation as your parents are working and your teachers are hard to contact, so you are forced to motivate yourself. On days that that motivation is removed, you feel like crumbling on the floor sobbing. However, I am fortunate… There are many people who do not have an education and that is incredibly hard for them... It prevents them from getting well-paid jobs ...and many of them live with horrendously poor grammar... Since they didn't have any education, they won't be able to get certain jobs, thus they won't be able to afford school for their children and so the ever-growing cycle continues.’ (Simon, 14, starting Year 10)
‘What’s better about homeschooling? Nothing. Nothing is better. Nothing is better about homeschooling and being stuck at home!’ (Phoebe, 8, starting Year 3)
‘At home I get bored a lot. At school there’s lots of fun stuff.’ (Ben, almost 5, starting Reception)
‘Well school is fun because I can see my friends… I’ve missed my friends. I’m looking forward to going back to the normal way it is other than coronavirus reasons and things like that. You have to learn at school. It’s important. Well...children who don’t have a school to go to must feel sad. Yeah. Sad. I’m excited to go back to school.’ (Daniel, 6.5, starting Year 2)
Knowledge is power
Higher levels of education influence a wide range of things – including better all round health and wellbeing.1 It’s been shown that, on average, each added year of schooling increases a person’s earning potential by ten per cent.2
But, in many places where Tearfund works around the world, school is not the automatic right and expectation of and for each child. Poverty forces parents to remove their children from school because they can’t afford fees. Or children don’t have time for the classroom because they’re out earning money for food. In other cases, conflict or disaster rob them of an education. Those that might otherwise have been learning to multiply and divide, instead count the cost of the loss of their homes, their family members, their hope for a better future.