by David Patrick Ryan ’19

Here at Saint Ignatius, we enjoy an exceptional high school education in an environment where we can walk into a beautiful campus in the morning, look up to see the towering main building, and know we are safe and ready to learn.Despite the stresses of studying, burdensome homework, and what may seem to be a lack of snow days, going to Ignatius really is a blessing. But as good as this experience is, what about others around the world who have little or no educational opportunity? What about those in our very own country and even neighborhood who do not receive nearly the same educational opportunities?

According to the global education network Fe Y Alegria there are 264 million children and youth who are out of school worldwide and 758 million adults who lack basic literacy skills. Combined, that is over three times the number of people in the United States, and it isn’t because they didn’t do their Pasko reading. The United Nations Human Development Report, which provides annual information on social, economic, and educational improvements for every nation, concludes that countries in West Africa and Central America have the lowest levels of educational development. This report better displays why so many people lack a proper education.

Many of these countries have been scarred by recent civil wars, inhibiting children’s ability to attend school safely and reducing accessibility to materials necessary for a quality education. Likewise, the financial stability of a nation often correlates with its ability to provide a quality education and make it readily available to the general populace. As such, only 14 percent of children complete secondary education in these low-income nations.

According to the Global Partnership for Education of the World Bank Group, every dollar invested in an additional year of schooling generates future earnings and savings of up to $10 for that child in low-income countries and nearly $4 in lower-middle income countries. Given this information, it is clear why children around the world who do not receive a proper education would benefit from the opportunities we receive.

Even within the United States, there are many children who do not receive a quality or justly equal education. Studies conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures suggest similar results in the United States as low-income nations for investing one dollar in childhood education. The wealth generated in society from this investment largely comes from lower incarceration rates, higher incomes later in life, and lower teen pregnancy rates.

Now, while the United States is neither a society emerging from recent conflict nor qualifies a low-income nation, the quality of education students receive is not always equal, especially in rural and urban areas. According to the National Education Association, school districts with the highest number of students of color receive approximately $2,000 less per
student than school districts with the fewest students of color. Furthermore, the districts with the lowest incomes receive $1,200 fewer per student than wealthier districts. This discrepancy is being aggravated as students from these disadvantaged school districts face problems outside of school that distract them from their education and contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline in these same districts.

This article is from the first edition of The Spark, a new initiative of the Ignatians for Peace & Justice that seeks to inform, inspire and ignite the Saint Ignatius community around various issues of faith and justice.

To learn more or get involved, please attend the IPJ weekly meetings on Thursdays at 7:30 a.m. in Campus Ministry.