Education is a powerful tool for social change and development. It can help reduce inequalities, improve quality of life, and promote economic growth. The World Food Programme reports that Burundi remains vulnerable to infectious diseases, climate-related shocks, and worsening access to basic services such as health and education. In a country where more than 70 percent of the 12.1 million population is living in poverty, education is the catalyst that can end this vicious cycle.
Lack of access to education is one of the most overt signs of poverty. Although there is no single cause of poverty, there is no doubt that putting children in school can help close the inequality gap. When children attend school, they get equipped with the advanced abilities to build resilience amidst the instabilities and challenges that can affect them. In this article, we will dive deeper into how education can address inequalities in Burundi:
- Education is a crime prevention strategy
Poverty is the most significant driver of crime among children. In the United States, larceny, or the unlawful taking of property, accounts for 13% of cases filed in juvenile courts. Maryville University reports that low socioeconomic status, repeated family violence, and delinquent peers increase the risk of juvenile delinquency, and economically impoverished communities and high-crime neighborhoods have increased incidents involving juvenile delinquents. Their institution lists educational system reforms and school programs as some of the most effective ways to curb or prevent crime rates among the youth.
Similarly, in Burundi, a report by the Independent National Commission on Human Rights found that some children turn to petty crime and robbery to survive their impoverished conditions. These children get prosecuted for juvenile delinquency and face jail time. When Burundi addresses poor enrollment and high dropout rates, it can keep children in school and deter them from getting involved in criminal actions that ultimately bring them deeper into poverty.
- Education improves quality of life
The US Department of Health and Human Services emphasizes that poverty reduces access to resources required to support a healthy quality of life. To address this, it names education access and quality as one of the most important social determinants of health. Education is how society transmits its accumulated knowledge, values, and skills to the next generation. It impacts not just young children but also people of all ages.
Peilla Ishimwe’s story is a testament to how education in Burundi can empower women by teaching them financial literacy and sharpening their leadership skills. It allows them to take more proactive roles in their communities, have increased income and spending power, and face less isolation and exclusion from critical decisions. Simply put, education can address inequality by increasing access to health services, nutrition, housing, and basic needs, all of which address quality of life.
- Education promotes economic growth
Education and economic growth are strongly linked. Each additional year of schooling results in an increase in income of 10% per capita. This impact of education on economic growth is palpable in how the United States commits to a yearly increase in capital spending on education.
In Burundi, the government recognizes this link with the significant progress it has made regarding access to and quality of education. Since it introduced free primary education more than 15 years ago, the Gross Enrollment Rate has reached more than 100%. This is only telling of how education is an investment for an entire country, as it helps improve productivity and create skills needed for overall growth and development.
Inequality is a complex problem with no one easy solution, but education can undoubtedly play a critical role in addressing it. Ensuring that children have access to quality education in Burundi could go a long way towards ending inequality and helping them participate meaningfully in society.
Article is exclusively written for Burundi Friends International
Written by Ronda June