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10 Benefits of Afterschool Programs (ASPs)

The pre-teen and teenage years are delicate times when kids can start picking up harmful and risky behaviors. Research over the years has confirmed that youths who participate in the Afterschool Programs (ASPs) gain psycho-social, emotional, academic and wellness benefits.

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The pre-teen and teenage years are delicate times when kids can start picking up harmful and risky behaviors. They are most likely to engage in these behaviors after school periods. Many working parents are unable to have complete oversight on their kids to know what they might be doing. Via mobile technology, their kids could communicate with them to inform them of their activities. If they are teenagers, you would just have to take their words for it. If they are raised right, they will be forthright in stating their actions and whereabouts, keeping the mind of the parent at bay while they are still at work. Younger children could be watched by a nanny, another family member, a trusted close acquaintance or they are kept at daycare or enrolled in an Afterschool Program (ASP) until they get off work. While it is essential to work and make money to take care of the children, it is also vital for caregivers to pay attention to their growth and development. Research over the years has confirmed that youths who participate in the Afterschool Programs (ASPs) gain psycho-social, emotional, academic and wellness benefits.

Afterschool Programs (ASPs)—The heartbeat of balance in the education of the child

“Parents need a full continuum of care and support from birth to kindergarten that is affordable and accessible—that means full day and full year. And let’s not forget that even in elementary school, working parents need access to the same kind of quality, affordable after-school programs!” — Randi Weingarten

ASPs are essential as they engage and expose children to many activities that support their development. ASPs can be grouped into Creative Art, Leisure, Physical, Transition, Wellness, and Nutrition; and Educational/Mental activities. Creative art activities can help to support self-expression and creativity in children. In this afterschool possibility, students can be involved in arts and crafts classes. Some other examples of creative art activities are healthy snack art, Suminagashi, Apple Stamping, etc. Leisure activities are not structural in any way and avail the opportunity for choice-play (e.g., board games, reading, puzzles, and passive games). Leisure activities bolster emotional, cognitive, and social development in the children.

Burn those calories—ASPs, the key to an enhanced physical education

Physical activities involve outdoor play activities that enhance endurance (e.g., soccer, basketball, football, taekwondo, etc.), flexibility (e.g., dance, ballet, stretching, etc.), and strength (e.g., outdoor play parks, where climbing, pushing, and swinging are involved). Transition activities occur when change is happening (i.e., changing activities, start-and-end of programs, etc.)—an example could be singing at the end of a program before the start of another. Wellness and nutrition activities are opportunities for children to learn about overall wellness, social relationship building, safety, and nutrition (e.g., cooking, safety talks, hygiene, etc.). Educational or Mental activities involves enrolling your kids in afterschool educational programs, classes, or clubs (e.g., Math, Robotics, Science, Debate, Coding, learning to play a musical instrument, etc.).

10 Benefits of ASPs

Child Development and Building Confidence in Children through ASPs

Child development is a crucial process in every home. Every parent wants children they can be proud of. They fancy the best for their children as they grow up. Because of this, parents go the extra mile in ensuring that they are giving their children the very best and exposing them to all positive avenues to improve their psychological, social, physical, and intellectual wellbeing. No one wants their child to go off the tangent and assimilate bad and risky habits. No one wants their child to become a statistic and social stigma that all parents’ advice their own kids to stay away from; hence, a bad influence on others. Parents resort to using ASPs as support in helping them mold the positive characters of their progeny. There are several benefits of ASPs, and they are as follows:

#1. Improvement in Academic Performance

Let’s get those test scores up through ASPs

Being a part of ASPs has been said to increase academic performance in schools because, during these programs, kids learn courses related to some subjects they are taught in school. Repetitious learning helps in grafting the knowledge in the memories of the students. This allows them to do better and earn better grades in school.

#2. Child Safety and Security

ASPs provides a safety net for kids—Invest in it

Most parents are sometimes swamped with work and do not return home until several hours after schools have closed. With these ASPs, they are sure of the safety and security of their children and can carry on with work, rest assured that they will pick up their kids after they are done for the day. They do not have to worry knowing their kids are in safe hands.  ASPs help to protect your children.

“In Chicago, you have an absence of strong family units, and that absence gets filled by gangs. You have a failure in the school system, after-school programs and other social programs to help keep kids off the streets. Amnesty International speaks to that in some way, by keeping these issues in the forefront.” — Lupe Fiasco

#3. Learning is Fun

Through the instrumentality of ASPs, learning can be fun!

Because the program is less formal than what obtains during school periods, it is a fun experience for the children since they are more comfortable in this learning environment. This fun part of ASPs has also been revealed to decrease the tendency of students to skip or drop out of school. It helps them stay engaged and removes any apprehension surrounding the rigors of academia.

#4. Good Dietary Habits and Physical Activities

Some ASPs make healthy food available to children

Due to the wide variety of physical activities and healthy food made available to children at some ASPs, attending and participating in the program has revealed significant health outcomes, such as reducing obesity in kids. Many of these habits they are taught at these programs stick with them for life. This is a great character building block and a positive disposition towards a healthy living lifestyle.

#5. Improves the Social Skills of the Child

ASPs help kids with kids develop their social skills

ASPs provide a shared ambiance where children can interact with the ASP staff and other children. The ability to interact fosters good social and interpersonal traits. They also learn to be more open-minded and become more confident. They also develop enhanced self-esteem. Reports have shown that ASPs among teens caused decreased shyness and aggression.

#6. Exposure

Children creating robots at school, STEM education. Early development, DIY, innovation, modern technology happens at ASPs

Not all the activities offered during the ASPs are taught in school. This provides and exposes the child to varieties of skills they are generally not familiar with. From there, the kid could even find new and previously unexplored passions. This positive exposure expands the horizon of their innovative thinking and creativity.

#7. Companionship

ASPs builds camaraderie!

In school, a child could find themselves the only ones interested in an activity, but with ASPs, they meet and interact with other children who share the same interests as them—Birds of the same plumage always conglomerate together. Many times, they go on to develop good, long-lasting relationships with one another.

#8. Protects against Risky Behaviors

ASPs help prevent kids from adopting risky behaviors

ASPs expose kids to healthy behaviors and make them aware of the risk of engaging in harmful practices (e.g., smoking, drinking, drugs, violence, gangsterism, etc.). ASPs influence the children to take up affirmative actions while having fun and enjoying themselves. Research shows that children who attend ASPs have reduced drug use and criminal behavior.

#9. Improves Leadership Skills

ASPs help kids to develop Leadership Traits

The statement above is another reason why children should be given the opportunity to participate in the ASPs. They are placed in charge of tasks, assist in duties, and there are also the opportunities for attending conferences that would benefit them. All of these set the child up for professionalism and excellent work habit in the future.

#10. Learn Teamwork

ASPs are avenues to develop team spirit

ASPs avail kids the opportunity to start learning teamwork at a young age. While in school, children might find it difficult interacting with their classmates, but the fun learning environment, interpersonal relationships they’ve developed in ASPs makes it easier for them to learn how to cooperate and work with others. 

Authentic artist children girl paints with set palette watercolor paints palette and brush in morning sunlight. ASPs can be fun!

“In a world where people are hungry for quick fixes and sound bites, for instant gratification, there is not patience for the long. Slow rebuilding process: implementing after school programs, hiring more community workers to act as mentors, adding more job training programs in marginalized areas.” — Dan Hill

Recapping the sundry benefits of ASPs, first, they help in improving the academic performance of children. Second, they provide a safety and security net for children. Third, we have seen that it affords a fun space for kids. Fourth, it teaches kids good dietary habits and physical activities. Fifth, it helps children improve their social skills. Sixth, it exposes the child to varieties of skills they are generally not familiar with. Seventh, it allows kids who have similar interests to find companionships. Eighth, it shields kids from going off the tangent and embracing risky behaviors. Ninth, it helps kids to improve their leadership skills. Finally, tenth, it allows kids to learn teamwork. 

We have seen all the benefits of ASPs—they are in no way exhaustive, there could be more benefits that are not mentioned here in this article. However, let it suffice us to stipulate that any activity that could help nurture a child constructively after they get out of school could technically be considered an ASP and such enterprises should be embraced, provided it is there to improve the child from a positive perspective. So, if you’re a working parent, concerned about what your children are doing between the hours when their schools close for the day and when you return from work, an ASP for your kids might be a win-win solution for you and your kids. Consider and ASP today.

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Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze is an entrepreneur and the Founder, CEO, Editor-In-Chief of Oaekpost, LLC, a U.S.-based online media company and the parent organization of www.oaekpost.com. He is a multi-niche writer with a wide range of interests in various genres. Agom-Eze is based in the Greater Seattle Area, Washington, and can be reached at ogb@oaekpost.com.

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Brendan
2 months ago

I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This post posted at this web site is
truly good.

Education

Money Skills in School Curricula? Integrate or not?

Knowing how to manage money is an education on its own. Many students, upon graduation from college, struggle with money management skills. The question that this piece deliberates on is whether institutions should add financial literacy to their school curricula. Please read all about it.

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Should we add financial literacy (i.e., money management skills) to school curricula? It was the American lawyer and the 2nd U.S. President John Adams who said, and I quote, “There are two types of education we should all note. The first teaches us how to make a living, and the other how to live a more abundant life.” This quote encapsulates the importance of intellectual balance, hinting at a positive affirmation to the question that starts this piece. It seems as though most of the world’s educational system’s sole preoccupation is producing book-smart graduates who lack life skills and financial literacy after graduation. 

“A man who gives his children habits of industry provides for them better than by giving them a fortune.” — Richard Whately.

For instance, many people graduate being book-smart and are not very street-smart. It is one thing to gain knowledge and another thing to apply that knowledge to make an honest living off of the acquired knowledge. Those who understand money management skills end up becoming extremely wealthy. Using their understanding—preferably in doing legitimate business ventures—builds fecund financial fiefdoms at the end of the day. You really cannot overstate the need for money management skills, and as such, there is a need to reflect it in the school curricula as a priority subject.

Financial literacy should become a priority subject in school curricula.

At its most basic level, financial literacy or money management as an economic concept deals with all aspects of finance, covering how to spend and what to spend money on, when to save, and where to invest money. At a broader level, financial literacy helps in planning and understanding the importance of setting long-term goals by allowing individuals to save and invest to achieve those goals. The aim is not necessarily to make you tightfisted or stingy, but rather to make you enable people of all ages, backgrounds, income brackets, and genders to become more disciplined and deliberate about their finances. 

Let us look at this scenario. many university students in Nigeria are still primarily dependent on the financial support of their parents or guardians to go through school. It is often rare to see many students needing part-time jobs as an avenue to raise capital to cater to their personal and academic needs. It doesn’t mean that they judiciously spend the monies they earn from these jobs; hence, the need for better financial literacy. It only means they cannot cope with the financial pressure and need a support system they can leverage in a bid to survive. That is one end of the spectrum.

Above, we see a student working as a courier. In America, students start taking on part-time jobs even in high school and as they attend college.

On the other end of the spectrum are students in the developed world, for instance, the United States of America. To go to college, students have various funding options for their tuition. First, those from very well-off homes receive all their financial support from their parents—that is the dream of everyone. Second, some students get their tuition funding through the use of student loans. Sometimes, the left-off loans fall to the students as stipends to live on at the end of the day. Third, some are sharp and fortunate enough to bag scholarships and grants.

However, despite all these funding options in the United States, students add extra work to the mix. Students in America start working earlier in their lives than students in countries like Nigeria, as an instance. Working earlier in life gives the students in the States leverage over students in Nigeria in becoming financially literate earlier on in their lives. They tend to learn the value of money earlier on in their lives due to this factor. In America, students start taking on part-time jobs even in high school and as they attend college. Such side jobs allow students to begin learning the various concepts about financial literacy, as mentioned above.

“It is difficult to imagine students being in dire financial situations…”

It is difficult to imagine students in dire financial situations, whether in the United States or other countries. Suppose they had acquired some financial literacy principles while in elementary school, high school, or even in college, they would have had a residue of savings to fall back on. Good financial literacy essentially involves a great deal of planning and discipline. By ensuring you don’t spend more than you earn and save more than you spend. It promotes the importance of having a budget. It enables people to distinguish between the things they want and what they need, all of which are necessary when going through an advanced learning or higher certification program.

Money management skills are not only for low-income earners—it is technically for everyone. It is arguably more critical for those who have finally left the school system and are finally ready to earn good money. It is a fact that not knowing how to manage money can lead to a situation where a high-income earner consistently feels impoverished. This situation is rarely about the nature of financial responsibilities they have to endure, but more a consequence of bad financial decisions on their part. Hence, financial literacy at an earlier stage in your life puts you in a position of strength.

It’s never too early to start teaching them financial literacy—start them young and see them bloom!

Unfortunately, the national education system as it is currently structured does not do enough to prepare graduates for life after school. The question now is how can this be resolved? Some would argue that the best way to change the situation is by instituting financial literacy or money management skills as a compulsory subject in the curriculum. Such mandate must be at the high school or secondary school level and the elementary or primary school level. The reason is that the sooner these skills are taught and learned, the better they will be applied, giving people a better competitive advantage in understanding money matters at an earlier stage in life.

“We go to school to learn to work hard for money. I write books and create products that teach people how to have money work hard for them.” — Robert Kiyosaki. 

Financial education and responsibility, which you can easily teach in a school environment, are necessary to build a culture of financial independence globally. Thus, including financial literacy or money management skills in the school curricula will benefit nations’ economies. In addition, it will also improve the future of our youth. Skills like reading, writing, and mathematical calculations are things we had to learn in a formal environment, right? So, there is no reason why we cannot equally teach a critical life skill like financial literacy or money management in schools. It will only enhance the value of our future generations.

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Education

6 Reasons Why Many Kids Hate Math in Africa

Mathematics is an essential subject because it plays out in our lives one way or the other. In the educational system, Mathematics is a compulsory subject and meant to be interesting. However, in Africa, most kids fear Mathematics and grow into adulthood, still hating Mathematics. Why is that so? Please read all about it.

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What is the most hated subject in the world? Just take your time and type that question on Google and see the answers that you will get. Mathematics ranks high as the most dreaded subject by kids in the world. So, is it not strange that the subject lends itself as the most logical and the most systematic finds itself in the basket of the most hated subject in the world? What an irony, to say the very least.

“The only way to learn Mathematics is to do Mathematics.” — Paul Halmos.

Mathematics is an essential subject because it plays out in our lives one way or the other—it is the nucleus of pretty much all professions because we use it in everything we do. In the educational system, mathematics is a compulsory subject and meant to be interesting. However, in Africa precisely, just like in other continents, most kids fear Mathematics and grow into adulthood, still hating Mathematics. Why is that so?

Oh my! God, help me with Mathematics!

Habitat for Humanity provides a robust list of African educational challenges. Some of them are poor health and nutrition, crisis and instability, poor quality content and processes, poor legal enforcement of educational policies, to mention but a few. Education in Africa may have evolved in some parts, but in some other areas, it remains stagnant. Only a few innovative schools see the need to keep growing in the way kids learn in school.

6 Reasons Why Many Kids Hate Math in Africa

Schoolboy thinking with his hand on his head in front of a blackboard. Oh! The Dread of Mathematics! It should not be that bad.

The challenges of education in a broader spectrum spills over into the dread of Mathematics by kids in Africa. With the high percentage of Mathematics haters amongst kids, we keep wondering why the numbers keep rising. There are many questions to be answered because these kids grow up still not being Mathematics fans. As adults, we too have had our fair share of the Mathematics experience, and we grew up with the Mathematics trauma. Why is this so? Here are some reasons to ponder:

#1. A Poor History of Telling the Story of Mathematics

The story of Early Mathematics in Africa is a fun one that most children in Africa don’t know. Storytelling builds interest in a child’s mind to explore the world of Mathematics, but history generally isn’t well told in most parts of Africa today. Many years ago, Africans used Geometry, Algebra, and Numerals in their daily activities, and they spread the knowledge with ease. Math in ancient Africa had many exciting facts, but we don’t hear these stories in schools. Instead, kids attend Mathematics classes and go straight to the numbers and not the story behind the numbers, making Mathematics less attractive in the educational system. So tell the story of Mathematics; make it fun and exciting!

#2. Harsh Teaching Concept

Growing up, we all feared Mathematics teachers.

Growing up, we all feared Mathematics teachers. The teacher and the subject itself were intimidating. The subject taught in school came with many punishments when students can’t seem to put the numbers together or solve equations. We couldn’t understand the concept of doing lengthy calculations to arrive at zero, the concluding answer. Asking questions over and over only led to disciplinary actions from teachers because it’s believed that the more you don’t understand the subject, the lesser you’re smart. 

Some kids, to date, want to skip Math classes or pretend to be sick to avoid looking at the numbers on the blackboard. Teachers handle the subject in an authoritarian manner as though punishing the student can make him or her any more competent at Mathematics. Teachers have been using this complicated method for years in the belief that if you are strict, students will learn Mathematics. Sadly, the cruel way of teaching this subject only stirs fear in the students’ minds and makes them view mathematics as a monster, which is why most African children dislike it.

#3. Frustration from Lack of Motivation

The unappreciated teacher faces the challenges of life and loses focus on his subject-Mathematics. Who suffers? The students.

In some parts of Africa, the educational system isn’t encouraging for teachers either. Some of these teachers also get frustrated as the students. When there’s no motivation from the teachers, the students suffer it. When the teacher isn’t well appreciated, especially for a challenging subject as Mathematics, the students don’t get the best out of the teacher. So, Mathematics becomes a frustrating journey—teachers are not well compensated, and students are not well taught. All the teacher thinks of is his or her survival and less of the students’ future; this is a bitter truth the educational system barely admits.

#4. Rigid Mathematics Curriculum 

There is power in positive reinforcement!

Most schools are rigid with their curriculum and teaching methods, especially some government schools in Africa. A school can use the same Mathematics material and teaching concept for more than 30 years without thinking of new ways to grow the school’s Mathematics learning culture. The same goes for other subjects taught in schools as well. There’s no room for growth, and kids do not find learning fun. The head of school has a significant role in creating a more flexible curriculum suitable for today’s students. Studying Mathematics as a boring routine makes a lot of students hate it. Schools should also understand that it’s okay if a child isn’t good at Math or Science per se. They should encourage other aspects of the child’s knowledge rather than weaken the child’s self-esteem.

#5. Lack of Innovation

Innovation is critical, even in the teaching of Mathematics.

As stated above, a lack of innovation in the educational system is another reason kids hate Mathematics in Africa. In the words of Suzie Boss, “The first step in teaching students to innovate is making sure that educators have opportunities to be innovators themselves.” The innovation here can be letting go of how Mathematics is being taught in schools and using a different approach with more actions than words. For example, it is possible to teach Math using digital games, art, or even story concepts that create numbers.

“Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations or algorithms: it is about understanding.” — William Paul Thurston.

Making kids love mathematics in Africa is about thinking outside the box on how schools should teach the subject. In 10 Tips for Teachers: How to teach Maths creatively by Marina Lewis-King,”  the author suggests various ways to make learning math fun. She suggests that teachers should: play more games, read mini Maths stories, tell their own Mathematics stories, try Mathematical dramas, combine Maths with visual arts, get to model making, run Mathematics festivals, embed mastery, institute a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) Club, etc. Innovation in teaching Mathematics can create the most brilliant minds in the world of science. 

#6. No Parental Inclusion

Positive parenting and inclusivity are needful and powerful in helping the academic challenges of their wards.

We live in a hectic world, and, understandably, working parents may not have all the time to be fully involved in a child’s homework or school assignment. As much as parents could get help by hiring a home tutor, especially teaching Mathematics, parents should also be present emotionally and psychologically for their children. Most kids come home being mentally drained from the hectic Mathematical calculations that they go through in school, and sometimes it gets them cranky that they hate to do the Math assignments from school. 

As parents, we may not be able to put the numbers together, but we can make them feel better about themselves and letting them know that you’ve got them, whether they’re Mathematics champions or not. Parents need to be a backbone of support. They should never become terrors coming down on their wards like kamikaze pilots going in for the disciplinary takedown. Parents also need to help strengthen their kids’ confidence and esteem that may have been tampered with in school directly or indirectly.

Mathematics need not be overly complex! Instead, let’s make it fun!

Kids hating Mathematics in Africa is a core subject many people don’t care to talk about, but it is something that educators can address. Kids hate Mathematics in school because of their poor history in Mathematics, cruel teaching method from teachers, and frustration from a lack of motivation. Another reason kids hate Mathematics is the rigid mathematics curriculum in school, a lack of innovation in the educational system, and poor parental inclusion to support their mental health. 

“Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.” — Shakuntala Devi.

With a bit of creativity, we can make Mathematics a little more fun than it is right now. We all have our share of stories about our stint with Mathematics. What has been your Mathematics experience back in school? Please share in the comment section.

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Education

10 Reasons to Increase Teacher’s Pay in the U.S.

Teachers are the heroes and the torchbearers of erudition. They are the unsung heroes of all professions. They are the ones that help lay the foundation of all other disciplines. The piece is a clarion call for all to celebrate the teaching profession via incentivizing them with a wage or salary increase as a way to say to all teachers and all prospective teachers of the future in the United States of America, “Thank you for your service!” Read all about it!

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When you compare what teachers make in the United States, whether Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Middle School Teachers, High School Teachers, or Postsecondary Teachers, it is evident that their pay is not nearly enough. The teaching career is the primordial foundation of all other professions, whether we like it or not. When we compare what teachers earn to other occupations, their pay is not proportional to the value they bring to the table. This piece brings to bare the reasons to increase teacher’s pay in the United States.

“Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” — Unknown.

The teaching profession is precious and forges the foundation of all other disciplines. We tend to overlook the value that they bring to the table. An ancient Chinese proverb stipulates that “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” If we are not planning to invest in the educational sector, we plan to fail as a nation. If we must project for a greater America, we must continue to invest in the education of our populace. However, we must take care of our teachers by incentivizing those already in the profession for this to happen. Hence, the domain will become more attractive to those who would like to become teachers in the future.

Asian female teacher teaching mixed race kids and reading a book to them in the classroom.

Teachers are the sculptors of human erudition and mindset. In the words of Joseph Addison, the English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician, “What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.” Teachers help students discover their interests, passions, potentials, and purpose in life at various levels of their lives. It takes years of molding, awakening, refreshing, and directing the child’s faculties towards becoming their best selves ever. Teachers do so by creating a social and intellectual ambiance in which learning can take place. We are all replete with potentials, and teachers help us discover what is already buried deep within our subconscious.

It is common knowledge that teachers are underpaid everywhere globally, not just in the United States. The above fact should not be the case, as they are the bedrock of all professions. There used to be a time when teachers agreed wholeheartedly that their reward is in heaven, but now, they want to get the products of their endless labor here on earth too. Teachers don’t mind cruising in Range Rovers or enjoy the other luxuries of life too. Come to think of it, is it too much for those who train other professionals also to live a little? In this piece, we would be looking at ten reasons teachers should be paid well in the United States.

Teacher’s Pay Vital Statistics

2018 saw one of the most prominent worker protests in a generation.

According to The Washington Post, the year 2018 saw one of the most prominent worker protests in a generation. Teachers across the country spearheaded the strikes that we saw in 2018. A total of 485,200 workers participated in the strikes. What trigger led to these strikes? Inequitable pay in comparison to other professions. Teacher pay has been in constant decline since the late 1990s, despite the growing large class sizes. A drop in the working and learning conditions in schools did not help the matter too. Education budget cuts did not even support the issue too. 

The average salary for a full-time public-school teacher was lower in 2017–18 than in 1999–2000 ($59,100 vs. $59,700) data of the National Center for Education Statistics. That is a 1.00% decrease from the previous years. There is no significant difference in 2017-18 than in 2011-12 ($59,000). It was just a 1.2% increase. From this data, it is evident that the growth rate of pay for teachers is significantly low.

There is a lot of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the various wages of different kinds of teachers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in May 2020, except special education, was $57,860 and $60,940, respectively. BLS establishes that the median annual wage for middle school teachers was $60,810 in May 2020.

BLS establishes that the median annual wage for high school teachers was $62,870 in May 2020. Furthermore, BLS demonstrates that the median yearly salary for postsecondary teachers was $80,790 in May 2020. BLS establishes that the median annual wage for special education teachers was $61,420 in May 2020. The statistics can go on. However, we now have some knowledge on the spectrum of pay for the different classes of teachers.

Teacher’s pay varies considerably from State to State. Some States do have it better than others.

Teacher’s pay varies considerably from State to State. For instance, the NYC Department of Education establishes that “in the 2019-20 school year, starting salaries will range from $57,845 (bachelor’s degree, no prior teaching experience) to $87,510 (master’s degree, eight years teaching experience, plus additional coursework).” However, a fellow teacher in Mississippi does not fare as well as a teacher in New York or maybe California. According to the Mississippi Department of Education Teacher Salary Schedule 2021-2022, the average pay of teachers with zero years of experience is $39,583.

However, it is noteworthy that teachers’ weekly wages have continued to nosedive since the 1990s, with the opposite being the case of most other professions. Considering the value that teachers bring to the table, there needs to be a rethink of the pay we offer teachers. Teachers deserve more for the value that they bring to the table. Negligence to this fact could cause a meteoric decline in the teaching profession. Who will pay the final price should this happen? Your guess is as good as mine—those who the teachers cater to, their students.

10 Reasons to Increase Teacher’s Pay in the U.S.

Teacher pay increase leads to enormous benefits in the education system.

When teachers give their very best in their profession, there is a direct correlation to positive student performance. On Education Next, a study titled “Do Smarter Teachers Make Smarter Students?” Establishes that there is a precise correlation that higher teacher pay increases teacher cognitive skills—which, in turn, is linked with better student performance. That is just one factor. However, we will consider more reasons why there should be an increase in teacher’s pay in the United States. Now, what are some of the reasons to increase teacher pay in the U.S.? Let’s find out more:

#1. Attracting New Teachers to the Profession

An enthusiastic teacher in action. He is giving a lesson in an elementary school to a class full of diverse children.

If the teaching profession is left to continue in its current state that it is in, it will cease to attract new persons, as the prospects of the job are not attractive. Research has shown that the remuneration offered to teachers is an essential element in the decision of an individual to join the profession. A survey by Third Way shows that pay plays a significant role in the choice of what students study in college. College students understand that the salary in a field of study for those with tenure in that profession matters as much as to those just starting. The fact is a clear indicator that they wouldn’t want to leave college for a job that doesn’t have much to offer. 

It’s a common thing to find college graduates interested in lucrative job prospects than settling for teaching. It’s only rational to think that teachers’ salaries and wages would reduce teacher turnover. Research reveals that high salaries directly influence the quality of a district’s application pool, which explains why schools that pay well stay attractive in the local labor market. Reasonably, long-term investment in the teaching profession will have a lasting effect on the size and quality of application pools. Teaching jobs will look attractive and bring in new prospects to the profession.  

#2. Retaining Teachers 

Overwork, teacher stress, burnout, and lack of support are driving teachers out of the profession. We need to retain our teachers more.

Excellent and quality pay would go a long way in ensuring that capable hands are retained and not lost to other professions. In classrooms, salary remains the most crucial factor persons consider in choosing to stay or quit the teaching profession. Thus, teacher retention is directly proportional to the increase in teachers’ salaries. The different studies carried out in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Denver, Colorado show healthy correlations between teacher’s salaries and retention. The facts from the studies are significant because years of service greatly influence efficiency in most cases. 

Effectiveness in the teaching profession is noticeable in the first five years of service in the classroom. People see teachers who over 20 years of teaching experience to be more effective and efficient. Isn’t it sad to know that 44% of new teachers leave the teaching profession in their first five years in service as stipulated in the research, Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force – Updated October 2018. Studies show that high teacher turnover affects the students in classrooms. Consequently, there is also a hindrance to school-wide achievements, significantly when the teacher positively impacts the students. 

#3. Diversification of the Teaching Workforce 

The teaching workforce should be more diverse. Diversity and inclusivity is the name of the game.

It’s crystal clear that an increase in teachers’ salaries would help diversify the teaching workforce. As we saw in the preceding paragraphs, research shows that earnings potentials can influence the diversification of the teaching work pool. The diversity narrative is relevant, given the impact that a diverse teacher workforce has on students and the schools concerning peaceful coexistence. On the Western Governors University (WGU) website, there are benefits of teachers of color in P-12 classrooms. Having a teacher of color has enhanced the understanding of Mathematics and fluent reading for students of color, as shown by studies. Blacks and Latinos have positive perceptions of Black and Latino teachers over the white ones. 

#4. Stress

Teacher under pressure trying to deal with kids.

The teaching profession is very demanding and tasking. It always places a mandate on the teachers to be at their best. The onus is on them as they go through the inconvenience and stress of building the professionals of this time and the future leaders of tomorrow. Sadly, it’s on record that a fat chunk of new teachers quit teaching two to five years into the profession. Teaching without mincing words is a stressful profession. It is as stressful as being a policeman, a deployed military personnel in a war zone, or a working parent. They contend with full classes, delinquent students, and extracurricular work done with different methods every working day of the week.

The stress of teaching has quadrupled with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers must deal with their students (i.e., in the open schools); they must also be careful to practice social distancing in their classrooms during the pandemic situation. Not too many listicles online consider the teaching profession a stressful one; however, it is imperative to mention that their job is quite stressful, even more in a pandemic situation. Hence, the U.S. Department of Education needs to rethink concerning the need to incentivize teachers in the classroom. They can do this via a pay bump to thank you for all that they do. 

#5. Defenseless 

Teachers deal with a lot of stress, which puts them in a very vulnerable position, physically and mentally.

What is it exactly that a teacher doesn’t take the blame for, to say the very least? Just mention it. The profession at every instance needs to defend itself, sometimes from politicians, at other times from uninformed parents, and sometimes, unappreciative or entitled parents. While teachers get stipends as a wage compared to some highbrow professions, they also face social, economic, and political updates affecting them. And after dealing with all these, a good number of them are still condemned to bashing due to poor grades and poor student performance. It is almost as if they are pretty defenseless from all they throw at them from various quarters. 

Talk about being defenseless in an age where mass shootings are becoming more prevalent in schools. The statistics are becoming quite ominous. According to the Center of Homeland Defense and Security’s K-12 School Shooting Database, the Knoxville school shooting on April 12 marks the 37th school shooting of 2021. Teachers and students alike are often sitting ducks in the face of mass shootings. The reality of what is happening in the United States of America is a hard pill to swallow. Teachers deal with a lot of stress, which puts them in a very vulnerable position, physically and mentally. When the equation of school shootings enters the mix, it adds to their stress. These and many other reasons stand in the road of people falling for the noble profession. 

#6. Beyond Teaching + The Extra Mile

Teachers go the extra mile by wearing many hats.

Teachers do a whole lot beyond just teaching, even when it means going out of their way to proffer solutions to the problems students present. For example, a kindergarten teacher goes through a lot to ensure that the kids pick up reliable information. Parents of such kids are always in awe to find them learning fast at school, sometimes forgetting that someone went through a lot to impart knowledge into their kids, yet that person remains underpaid. It wouldn’t be surprising to find a high school teacher managing the job of a counselor and advisor alongside her teaching job. Do these people deserve to be underpaid?

Teachers wear many hats. They go the extra mile to take care of all the pupils that are under their tutelage. I read an article titled, “You Are So Much More than Just a Teacher: The many Hats Educators Wear,” by Sally White, a public high school teacher, on the website Bored Teachers. The article posits that as an educator, you will wear many hats, and this officially valid. In addition to teaching students, teachers are also: comedians, ringmasters, providers, empaths, counselors/life-coaches, detectives, nurses, test administrators, role models, polygraphers, content experts, motivators, drill sergeants, mediators, referees, decorators, janitors, cheerleaders, event planners, mentors, police, etc. Teachers go the extra mile by wearing many hats. If any career deserves a significant raise, it is the teaching profession, for they are Jack-of-all-Trades and masters of all.

#7. Not Just the First Glance 

Hercules kills the Lyrna Hydra—One of the 12 Exploits of Hercules. Teachers are like Hercules.

A teacher’s job is way beyond the first glance of what we think the profession to be in the first place. While many think teaching is just about standing in front of students, its demands are way more encompassing. Teaching requires courage. Teaching requires mental resilience. For instance, think about the toll it takes on you to raise three kids in a house. When the COVID-19 shut down happened, I bet that many teachers let out a sigh of relief when many schools resorted to virtual classes. It’s not as if they are still not under stress; however, part of the tutelage baton went into the hands of parents. Many parents wear pulling the hair out of their heads during this time, trying to manage their wards’ educational needs, and still work virtually from home. Many came to appreciate the Clark Kent powers of being a teacher—it is not what it seems at first glance—it is not an easy profession.

To be a teacher, you must have a resilient mental fortitude. What do we say about the effortlessness in which they manage to draw out lesson plans, professional meetings, parent-teacher meetings, grading assignments, and still operating their chores without compromising in any way? It is not all it seems at first glance. We must appreciate what their soldiers of erudition are doing in helping us educate the minds of our wards. When we see soldiers here in America, we tell them, “Thank you for your service!” Now, I have also started telling those in the medical profession the same thing considering that the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of them pass through the needle’s eyes in their jobs as they work effortlessly to save lives. However, let us doff our hats for teachers also. Next time you see a teacher, tell them, “Thank you for your service!” For the Herculean load of what teachers do and still try to stay sane, I would espouse that teachers are gods then—maybe uncelebrated ones! They are continuously operating at full throttle to slay the hydra-headed problems that impact the transfer of knowledge to the next generation. Should we not appreciate them more by raising their pay significantly?

#8. Impact 

Teachers make an impact!

No one can boldly say that they haven’t been positively affected by any of their teachers at any point in their lives. Think about some of the teachers that made the most impact in your life? Share your stories in the comment section. I remember my teachers sometimes. There are elementary school teachers at Alvan Ikoku Staff Primary School that I will never forget. These teachers profoundly impacted my life. Some of the teachers are Mr. Oguemedom, Mr. Iroh, Mr. Nkpa, Mrs. Uguru, etc. These teachers and the various teaching styles and leadership left an indelible mark on my life growing to date. The same goes for teachers in my high school days and even in college. Some of them shared their life experiences so that we can learn from them, even their biggest regrets. Such effort and impact are one of the things some parents don’t find time to do.

Teachers are sculptors that mold the minds of generations of leaders. The impact that teachers deliver goes through a lifetime in helping to shape the mindset of everyone in becoming the best that they could ever become. We do not celebrate teachers enough in the American culture. We are prone to celebrating athletes, the military, the rich and famous, etc. We do not remember teachers enough. We forget their genius in helping raise the Titans of Technology and Business. We ignore their patience in helping to cultivate the leaders of our tomorrow. We allow them to struggle to make ends meet—that is not right, America. We need to celebrate the teaching workforce. We need to make the teaching workforce have the “it factor” in the community of all professions. One of the ways that we can do is to increase their pay significantly. Let us tell them that we appreciate the value that they bring to the table.

#9. Education Value

The more the country puts into education, the more you get out of it.

It’s pretty amazing how the struggle to get good pay by teachers in America undermines the value of education in the country. The United States of America is still a crucible of knowledge. However, the United States no longer ranks as the most literate nation globally, as seen in the Oaekpost article 10 Most Literate Countries in the World.”  At the time of writing the article, the United States ranked 5th among all highly literate nations. Could the loss of the top status of being the number one literate nation globally be due to the lack of focus and emphasis by the leadership on growing the educational sector in the country? Could not increasing the pay of teachers be a contributing factor to this education value decline?  

What is to be said of the State’s education when its caretakers struggle to make ends meet? Teachers are the foundation that holds the education structure everywhere in the world. What you focus on will grow. What you feed will flourish. The United States needs to pay more attention to its educational sector to reclaim its lost glory. The more the country puts into education, the more you get out of it. However, if the system is left to continue moving this way, it will affect the quality of education we provide future generations. Many new teachers tend to quit their jobs, searching for greener pastures and other well-paying jobs within the first five years of entering into the field. As much as education deserves to be valued, teachers deserve to be appreciated too!

#10. We May Have No Teachers

Failure to do so may lead to a drastic teacher shortage in the future.

The truth is that we may have no more teachers in the future. Why? Teachers are going through an enormous challenge with very little cheerleading to help them along in the process. With the many hats that they wear, the enormity of the job could make it more challenging. Being a teacher can be exceedingly overwhelming. Thus, they also need a support system to help them through the challenges they face, especially in the first few years of joining the profession. Failure to do so may lead to a drastic teacher shortage in the future.

I can remember vividly back in the days in school, the prevalent excuse many people give for not desiring to become teachers hung on the wealth factor. Many people believe that becoming a teacher meant that you would end up poor. Many believe that teachers also find it challenging to make ends meet in life. Teachers also have responsibilities. They have families to cater to and have dreams and aspirations too. Hence, teachers wouldn’t mind trying their hands-on better jobs, especially if they feel like the teaching profession is not getting the attention and care required. And this is what gives rise to the high teacher turnovers. 

Teachers are powerful! Never underestimate their power and influence.

We have seen in this listicle the reasons to increase the pay of teachers in the United States of America. The core reasons all surmise that the profession brings a lot of value to the table. However, for us to ensure that the profession’s value keeps on giving, we must celebrate the career and give honor to whom honor is due. Teachers wear many hats. They need our encouragement and support as they go about their duties to instill knowledge in our wards and train the leaders of tomorrow. 

“The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” — Dan Rather.

The teaching profession is a wonderland of possibilities. Teachers need our encouragement in other to continue performing at an optimum level. The essence of this piece is to do just that—to encourage our teachers by telling them, “We appreciate your service!” Thank you for wearing all the hats that you do as you build the minds of our future generations. Hopefully, this clarion call to the powers that be will motivate our leaders to increase the pay as an incentive to recognize the novel and unique heroism of the teaching profession. Reader, if you were in a position of authority, would you investigate teachers’ salaries? Would you make a change happen?

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Education

Can Bullying Be Stopped in Schools?

“Can bullying be stopped in schools?” The simple answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” For the complex explanation? Read all about it.

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Is bullying dangerous? Can harm result from students bullying other students? Can it lead to someone feeling hopeless, helpless and start thinking of suicide? Can bullying make someone act differently than usual? Acting differently like always seeming sad or chronically anxious, struggling to complete tasks, or not taking care of themselves. Can bullying be based on protected rights such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion? In summary, “Can bullying be stopped in schools?” 

The simple answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” Screaming rhetorically loud on all vocal cylinders. For the complex explanation? Follow along. — Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze.

A bully seeks to cause harm to others. A bully is a tyrant, an ignorant ruffian who intimidates others, coercing others (some or others perceived as vulnerable). The Merriam Webster Dictionary establishes that the bully is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable tormented by the neighborhood. A bully is an ignorant nincompoop in need of transformation from their impish expressions.

A bully is an ignorant nincompoop in need of transformation from their impish expressions.

Bullying can affect the individual who is the victim of the bully. It can damage the victim’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being during their early school years and go into adulthood. Its effect can be adverse and must be treated with the utmost severity to crush it whenever it rears its ugly head up. Bullying can cause physical harm, social or emotional breakdowns, and is the severest case—even death. Hence, the need for us to address bullying immediately we notice it. 

The first step to solving any problem is understanding the problem. Parents who pay attention to their children understand the issue of bullying in school. Your child probably has approached you more than once with complaints of a bigger pupil in their school who bullies them. If your child has never complained about bullying in school, he/she probably may be a bully in school. Parents need to pay attention to this too.

Children bullying and poking fun at an African American girl in the classroom.

Bullying among school children is usually for fun. However, these bullies fail to realize that their actions are seeds that they plant in their victims’ psyche that grow up to become rhetorical weeds that could choke the life out of their sanity. Sometimes, bullying is often a means of having revenge on a pupil for being a lot more intelligent in schoolwork or other perceived advantages. Some children are bullied into doing assignments and classwork by pupils who cannot do it themselves. 

Others are intimidated because they appear different from the majority; differences such as being physically weaker, being from a diverse ethnic or racial group, speaking differently, or just generally standing out regarding their approach to things. This arouses curiosity among other kids, causing them to question their understanding of how things should be. Bullying becomes the next logical thing for those who cannot tolerate these differences because of their self-esteem issues.

Reasons why children are bullied.

Many students who bully other students are primarily from homes where they experience emotional upheaval. This may be in the form of bullying from older siblings or relatives, physical abuse from parents, or even domestic violence. These children internalize these experiences and then re-enact this learned behavior on those they consider weaker than themselves. Bullies can also pick up this habit due to exposure to music, television shows, and inappropriate movies for children. The children feel the need to prove themselves by supposedly exacting strength. They then find weaker or more timid students to exact that force on them. 

Addressing the Bullying Issue

Stop Bullying!

Bullying is prevalent in schools because it’s the one place where people from different backgrounds and personalities and vulnerabilities gather to learn. Bullying can occur in various ways. There is cyber-bullying, physical, social, and verbal bullying. Whatever the method, it can affect the student’s mental health, and we must do everything to stop it. Taking this into account will help to understand most of the proffered solution to this problem. Now that we have identified the problem, the next step is to look at some practical solutions to bullying in schools.

#1. Indulge the Bully

Teacher trying to get to the root causation of a bullying situation.

More than just reprimanding the bully—which will make them angrier and want to bully the victim more—try to indulge them and get to know their motivation. Punitive measures from a school system should aim to go to the root causation of the bullying. Getting a bully to talk about why they like to bully or what happens in their homes may prove difficult at times. However, it is the right thing to do in helping to solve the bully problem.

Getting to the root causation of this behavior shows equal concern for the victim and the bully too. Many bullies repeat their actions because they feel they are less loved or cared for by their teachers or even by their parents. Stringently disciplining the bully as the only repercussion for his/her actions goes only to prove this point to the bully. Getting to the root cause of their actions and finding a means to solve their troubled state will help them become better.

#2. Instill Positive Behavior

Negative parenting can turn your kids into bullies.

One of the best ways to curb negative behavior is to instill positive behavior. It is like having a void inside and seeking a way to fill it. The negative behavior is bullying. There is a genesis to every bully’s behavior. The positive action is the substance that fills the gap that the bully is experiencing that plunges them in the dark paths of going down the deep end. Negative parenting can turn your kids into bullies. Positive behaviors come to kids through the kind of parental upbringing that they have. (NB. Check out our article titled “Let’s Raise Our Children Right” ).

As we have established in the previous paragraph, the best place to encourage positive behavior growth is home. So, get the parents of the bully involved. If possible, help them attend parenting classes and learn about things they should and shouldn’t do in front of their kids to avoid allowing their kids to pick up wrong values. Also, please encourage them to be a lot more endearing to their children and show moral and emotional support. If parents are fully incorporated in reorienting their children, the process becomes a lot easier.

#3. Encourage Co-operation Amongst Students

“Teamwork makes the dream work.” – John Maxwell.

Another way to curtail bullying amongst students is to ensure that they work together. Co-operation among students is an essential factor that gets them working together. Students should be taught the benefits of teamwork and the need to relate in the spirit of tolerance. They must be taught to accept their fellow kids irrespective of their color, weaknesses, creed, etc. There should be a no-tolerance policy in the school. 

In school, pick children who are bullies and put them in the same group as their victims and encourage responsibility, teamwork, and productiveness. This way, they would see themselves as companions instead of enemies. Working together to achieve tasks helps children understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and builds empathy. The more these kids understand each other, the less the likelihood of them turning against each other. They could even develop meaningful friendships.

#4. Guidance and Counseling 

Guidance Counselling is needful—It can help curb bullying and more in schools.

There is a need for more Guidance Counselors in the United States school system. According to Bradley University, the smaller student-to-counselor ratio was associated with higher college enrollment rates and more knowledge of postsecondary education. The need for guidance counseling goes beyond trying to get kids into college. In an America where there are so many uncertainties in schools, students need more guidance. We cannot relinquish this duty to teachers alone. More Guidance Counsellors will help reduce variations such as bullying, violence, and maybe mass shootings, etc. It will make for a calmer and more collected generation that will grow up with more empathy. 

According to Bradley University, Grades K to 8 and 9 to 12 require an excellent Guidance Counselors ratio to Students. The American School Counselor Association recommends a school counselor-to-student ratio of 1:250. In the 2013-14 year, Arizona had the worst ratio of 1:941, followed by California at 1:822. Wyoming has the best at 1:211. States that recognize the positive effects of Guidance Counseling in the student population are Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maine. Among these five States, Tennessee comes out tops—1:500 for K to 6, 1:350 for 7 to 12. (NB. See the The Bradley University Infographic for more details. Click here). In my opinion, I believe that having more Guidance Counselors in schools can help mitigate the vice of bullying. The ratio is high at 1:250, although only one state-Wyoming exceeds this standard. Let us aim for a 1:100 guidance counselor to student ratio in American schools.

#5. Get Help Now and Educate Yourself

Let’s join hands and stop bullying. Get help now! Education is critical to stop bullying!

Do not keep quiet when all else fails—Get Help Now. The United States Government has set up a website that is totally dedicated to stopping bullying at www.stopbullying.gov. Get help immediately. If you have expended your efforts—if you are at a dead-end in offering help to curb a bullying situation and you perceive that someone is in immediate danger, Get Help Now! Assess the case based on “The Problem.” When you determine what it is, get help now by doing what stopbullying.gov has recommended.

“Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer.” — Rachel Joy Scott.

Finally, you must continue to educate yourself on the problem of bullying. An excellent place to start is what you have done already, which is reading this article. Share this article via your social media platforms to continue to expand awareness of bullying. Also, you can gain more knowledge via the resources that the government provides, such as www.stopbullying.gov, via their Facts About Bullying section of their website. Do the due diligence of educating your wards on the dangers of bullying. Together, we can join hands in extinguishing the raging fires of bullying in our schools.

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Education

Is a University Degree Important these Days?

Does success have anything to do with a university degree or any certificate at all? Is a university education beneficial at all? What road leads to success? With a college degree or with no college degree? Your choice.

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At almost every turn, new generation speakers are downplaying the importance of a university degree. It seems that in the 21st Century, there are more avenues to gain access to knowledge, skills, and opportunities that could enable one to become successful without necessarily delving into the world of academia. There are a lot of successful people out there that were able to make it to the peak of their business ventures and success without a college degree; however, there are still those who have also made it to the top with a college degree likewise. Because of this, we now have people asking the question—Does success have anything to do with a university degree or any certificate at all? Is a university education beneficial at all? What road leads to success? With a college degree or with no college degree?  Your choice.

Do I get a college degree? Do I not get a college degree? Your choice

Some people say being successful has almost nothing to do with the number of degrees one has. There is some element of truth in this—the number of degrees that you acquire does not necessarily translate into success or great wealth automatically. To bolster this, high school graduands in developed countries, see getting a job immediately after high school as fashionable. As though to validate this point, it has become glaring today, in an age of social media and generations XYZ millionaires and billionaires (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Richard Schulze, etc.) who make their money from ventures that have nothing to do with their degrees or no degrees at all. Let us delve into this by asking ourselves the question, “Is a University degree essential to succeed these days?”

“You have to stay in school. You have to. You have to go to college. You have to get your degree. Because that’s the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education. And it is worth the investment.” — Michelle Obama”

University Degree = Success or Not? Yes or No?

Education? Yes or No? Let’s see what we will answer

The answer depends on who is asking. Albeit beneficial, having a college or a university degree does not always mean that it will translate to success or great opulence automatically. Some people acquire a college degree and eventually utilize the knowledge and expertise that they have gained to climb the corporate ladders of their organizations and become remarkably successful, and sometimes very wealthy. There are others who have a list of college degrees under their professional belt and end up being corporate slaves with their degrees—they get by in the rat-race entrapment, but not necessarily super-rich or super-successful—they are just okay. There are still some with college degrees who are not even able to make ends meet. Getting a college degree may make you book-smart; however, it may not necessarily make you street-smart. Dealing with real life is all about shrewdness about getting things done. You can be book-smart, but you struggle in getting things done substantively. Street-smarts is defined by a go-getter mentality—you get things done; you make things work to your profit. You make a transformative impact via innovative and disruptive ideas. Not everyone is book-smart, and not everyone is street-smart. However, there are those who are both book-smart and street-smart all the same—an applicable advantage to say the very least. It is entirely subjective on the individual and their approach to life.

Being Book Smart has its pros and cons.

The concept of acquiring a college degree is subjective. If you earn a degree in some field of study and become an expert at it, you could hit the success bank in that field. It is dependent on the field and location, location, location. For instance, a degree in Information Technology in the Silicon Valley area in California or the Greater Seattle, Washington area becomes a competitive advantage that could give you a lucrative career. A degree in Information Technology is highly sought after in those areas. Another instance is a college degree in nursing anywhere in the United States of America can also furnish you access to a very successful career. However, not all degrees are equal. It is also a game of chance, a roll of the dice in the probability of life. In other words, if you will tow the university educational path, you must be very strategic in making the right career choice when it comes to your field of study, or you might end up on the welfare line with a bag full of college diploma and accolades. Be wise and choose the right path of academic expertise to pursue in college.

Be a changemaker. Be street smart!

As I said earlier, “Book-smarts does not always translate to street-smarts.” The concept of street-smartness is an innovative state of mind that is intermingled with a go-getter and change-maker mentality. It is when someone has a sharp (i.e., shrewd) awareness of how to adapt, survive or succeed in any situation that life throws at them. It is the life experience that is gained outside of school. Someone who is street-smart is apt in the art of knowing how to get along with the human element—that is how to get along with people. They operate with a heightened level of commonsense mentality when it comes to knowing who you can lean on and who not to lean on. It is the art of self-defense in the game of life—knowing how to maneuver and win even when the odds are against you. It is the art of having a radar mentality to comprehend when people are trying to feed you a cartload of rubbish in other to make a fool of you and trick you. It is the art of knowing the right time in the art of the deal. To be street smart is to be a real-world survivor. In summary, it is the art of understanding and knowing how to get stuff done while thinking on your feet. 

Become a disruptor in your field!

A lot of people who have become super-successful and wealthy reached this status by being very street-smart and many at times book-smart also. They developed an idea, cultivated the idea, honed the idea, and are now reaping the benefits of their smartness. They are change-makers who use their ideas and witty-creativity to disrupt the market by doing something tangible with their designs—when the herd is going one way, they are going the other way—they swim upstream while others are going downstream.  They are relentless while facing real-life situations and they take the bull of their destiny by the horns in their journey of becoming vanguards via their life adventures. I read an article written by a Lucinda Shen on August 8, 2016, of the Fortune magazine, who established that “about three out of 10 billionaires—29.9%—around the world did not have at least a bachelor’s degree in 2015.” That is an incredible statement—people who are achieving a lot of success and wealth through their go-getter disposition and becoming high-fliers in the affairs of life are said to have some sort of college degree. Hence, won’t it be a double advantage if people are book-smart via the acquisition of a college degree and street-smart too? Won’t that be considered as a dual competitive advantage scenario? It sure will.

“That’s the value of a college education… I don’t know anywhere in the world where you can make an investment and make that kind of return.” — Gaston Caperton

5 Benefits of a College Degree

Education is the key to the future!

We have seen that street-smartness with a go-getter and change-maker mentality can usher you through the portals of unimaginable success and colossal wealth. However, won’t it be best if people acquired some education in addition to being street-smart likewise? For us to come to a point where we can make an informed decision about this, we need to survey some of the benefits of going to college and acquiring an education. An Alex Tabarrok once said that “Education is the key to the future: You’ve heard it a million times, and it’s not wrong. Educated people have higher wages and lower unemployment rates, and better-educated countries grow faster and innovate more than other countries. But going to college is not enough. You also have to study the right subjects.” His assertions are valid about the benefit of college education; however, the point of emphasis is being in the right field of study. For those who are wondering about the benefits of a university degree and its connection to success, let us dive in and explore some of them.

#1. It Is A Measure of Achievement

A university degree is essential and will always be important to people who value education. For most societies, a university achievement is a feat and a vital requirement for climbing that career ladder. Also, a university degree is also one of the yardsticks that are used in measuring the literacy rate of nations. The more college-educated the populace of a nation is, the higher the literacy rate of such a country. Many countries that have the highest literacy rates boasts of great innovation, development, and economic prowess because of the knowledge capital they have that supports the growth of their body politic (NB. Be sure to check out the article, “10 Most Literate Countries in the World”). A university education is a measure of success that shows expertise and specialization in a subject or field. The chosen profession is, however, the catch. As all fingers are not equal; so also, all career fields are not equal.

Education helps you specialize in a chosen career field

Some career fields are more lucrative than others. For instance, the career base pay for a Neurosurgeon, on many occasions, cannot be compared with the base compensation for a career chef working for an establishment that is not his or her own. However, this notion is all subjective. If a chef plays his or her cards well, the individual could become more successful than a neurosurgeon if he/she ventures to open his/her restaurant that turns out to be a mega-success. However, if you must succeed with a university education, then you must be very cautious and deliberate when choosing the right course of study. This will give you a fighting chance to make something out of your profession after college. Failure to do so might leave you squirming for dear life and struggling to survive. (NB. Last year, I stumbled over the video by the YouTube Channel, Alux, titled, Top 10 Degrees the Still Guarantee a Job,” and I feel it’s worthy of sharing here—see it below). Acquiring a university education is not an easy feat to say the very least—it requires endurance, commitment, and a lot of hard work. A university degree hones your potentials, builds your skill set and gives you the push needed to succeed.

“Education is an investment. Make the right investment by choosing the right course of study in college.”

#2. It Gives You A Competitive Advantage

A college education can give you a competitive boost above your peers

Earning a university degree gives you a competitive advantage in the job market—it gives you a head start over those in the rat race who do not possess a university degree. People with university degrees have a higher chance of being successful in places where their areas of specialization are in high demand. With the right university degree, things are not left to chance or passion. Application of all you have learned while obtaining your degree will come to play in the right career environment. In other words, the right career plus the right ambiance is equal to a successful career, ceteris paribus. An educated person with a university degree in most cases has a higher competitive edge over those who do not have one—it is that propellant that jet-set(s) you ahead of your competition. A university degree removes ceilings that can truncate professional growth and achievement in organizations. If you hope to push to the C-Suite and earn more money, then you might want to consider getting a degree! 

A college education helps you climb the corporate steps to greater accolades

The chances are slimmer for those who don’t have a university education—especially in a knowledge economy. The reason is that no employer is going to pay a high school graduate more than a university graduate, all things being equal. The only way this will happen is if the high school graduate has a specific self-taught sought-after skill that the college graduate does not possess. If you are not a geek with the latest technological invention, it is best you strive to get a degree! University degrees are relevant. It can be a channel to earn a living if push comes to shove. Unless you have a proprietary and revolutionary idea like “Facebook” or “Microsoft Windows” that would ensure you need not work a day in your life, then you could consider getting a university education as an option to guarantee earning potential. A recent research from Georgetown University establishes that university graduates earn $1 million more in earnings over their lifetime than those who do not have a college degree. As you can see, having a university degree can be an edge over those who do not have the same in the job sector.

#3. It Gives You A Chance for A Better Earning Potential

A college education can improve your chances of a better earning potential

Acquiring a university degree gives you a chance for a better-earning-potential. In other words, with more money comes the possibility of a better lifestyle and a step closer to the desired success. An increased earning power comes with an improved lifestyle, and this is only possible as you climb the ladder of success in a chosen career field. This shift in your earning potential may occur in the form of a promotion or added job responsibilities, and this opportunity is only reserved for those who have at least a first or bachelor’s degree from a university. A college degree creates an opportunity for planned and measured growth in earning capacities.  It also makes for an improved and sustained financial potential. 

#4. It Gives You Options

Don’t settle—Choose the job you love!

People who have a university degree have a wide range of jobs to choose from—again, this is subjective and dependent on the field of study that you choose. A degree serves as a steppingstone for future connections, network, opportunities, and learning. While those without degrees take on lesser paying jobs to make ends meet, those with university degrees are exposed to a broader pool of professional employment and comparable salaries to go with it. These jobs are suited to their qualifications, and further study makes it possible for graduates to have a fast career climb. Graduates enjoy the best job markets and the better skills and qualifications they possess, the better their chances of improved employment potentials. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This statement holds a lot of validity. Education gives you an option to be able to choose a job that you love.

#5. It Sharpens Your Skills

Improve your skills—It is critical to your professional growth!

A university degree goes a long way in helping the individual sharpen their skill sets. In this 21st Century and in the future, the following relevant skills sets amongst others will be essential for succeeding in the workplace. They are: (a). Critical thinking and problem solving; (b). Effective communication; (c). Collaboration and team building; and (d). Creativity and innovation.

First, a college degree hones your critical thinking and problem solving skill. The future of work will require a lot of people who are able to think reflexively or critically. Okay, I am going to be a little academic for a bit in defining critical thinking. According to the Foundation of Critical Thinking, it is “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” Critical thinking creates the opportunity to be able to use complex data to solve the problems of tomorrow. A college degree helps in preparing students for a future of reflexive thinking and problem-solving.   

A college degree hones your critical thinking skills

Second, a college degree helps you develop effective communication skills. We live in a day and age where the ease of communication says a lot about an individual. Effective communication is critical. Most of those who have taken the time to obtain degree possess better communication and written skills needed to thrive and survive in the corporate world. The rigor of college writing improves quality in communication. It hones the preciseness of written or verbal communication.

A college educations improves your communication skills

Third, a college degree helps you develop great team building skills. We live in an age of extensive collaboration and team building. The world has become a global village, and we now have organizations establishing virtual teams all over the world to handle global-scale projects. Having a college education helps to foster and grow this vital skill. College classes avail students the opportunity of learning how to collaborate with each other. It also allows them to build effective and efficient team building skills. This helps in preparing them for the workforce of the 21st Century and the future.

Teamwork makes the team work!

Fourth, a college degree makes you more creative and innovative. Acquiring a college degree is also a catalyst that fosters creativity and innovation. The world of academia under the right conditions does not truncate creativity and innovation but rather amplifies it. Universities remain a core hub for advanced research, innovation, and creativity. A college degree remains one for the most acceptable methods of hire especially for an employer who is particular about the skill set he wants his employees to have.

Innovation and creativity are at the nucleus of a college education

“When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.” — Elon Musk

In the end, attending a university provides benefits that are beyond just a degree. Most graduates would agree that their time at the university was probably their most memorable and impactful. It creates the opportunity to form bonds of lasting camaraderie. University is where most people make lifelong friends and build relationships and networks that could be beneficial in the future. Nowhere else do young people of similar backgrounds gather to share experiences. It is a conglomeration of innovation, ideas, and a creative hub for knowledge capital generation. The acquired knowledge transcends way beyond the time spent in college acquiring them.

Formal tertiary education also puts young people through rigorous mental processes that they can apply in other situations when they venture into the workforce. This is not to say that all those who have a degree are certain to make it—that is a far cry from reality. Not everyone who has a college degree go on to become high-fliers in their chosen professions. While going to school itself does not guarantee automatic success, the skill set obtained in a university puts those with degrees ahead of those who don’t possess one—it gives them a competitive edge. Hence, it is better to have a college degree than not to have any at all. What have you got to lose?

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Education

10 Most Literate Countries In the World

Global literacy rates have increased over the past few decades. The importance of education cannot be overstated as a country’s performance can be confirmed by its literacy rate.

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Global literacy rates have increased over the past few decades. Literacy is a fundamental skill and a principal measure of a population’s education. The main reason for this is the evolution of the educational system of many developing countries. Education is one factor that advances and enlightens a country. John Miller, the President of Central Connecticut State University, in a statement, said, “…and what the rankings suggest, and world literacy demonstrates is that these kinds of literate behaviors are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economies that define our global future.” The importance of education cannot be overstated as a country’s performance can be confirmed by its literacy rate.

We cannot emphasize enough the value of education—it is a medium for adding value to minds. Gone are the days when anyone would find succor in ignorance and lack of education. Despite this, many developing countries struggle with providing necessary educational resources for their population. This reveals the disparity in the literacy rate between developing nations and the developed nations of the world. In this article, we will look at the ten most literate countries in the world. The following developed countries that we will be looking at have a sizeable learned population. They invest immensely in education via a sizable fiscal budget. They own some of the world’s best schools and are recognized as the most literate countries in the world.

When I first wrote this article about two years ago, the ranking of the ten most literate nations, in descending order, from the most literate to the tenth literate, went thus, Russia, Canada, Japan, Israel, United States, Korea, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Finland, and Australia. Two years down the line, the trends have shifted, as we will see in this article, to other nations. This spells out the word O-R-G-A-N-I-C in a scream. Why? The reason is that with the rate of educational advancement, this list of Top Ten Literate Countries will continue to shift. We can’t establish it as an absolute fact because the trends are bound to continue shifting as time and chance happen to the education spheres of the community of nations.

For this article, the root source that feeds the facts you are assimilating is from the World Population Review. The World Population Review derives the root of its hierarchy of the most literate nations from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD provides invaluable data about all the nations of the world. The OECD literacy rate standard for nations, per se, takes root in “the number adult residents between the ages of 25 and 64 that have received a tertiary education—two-years or four-year degree or have received an education via a vocational program.” We will follow the same data to establish the foundational facts of this article.

In this article, we will survey the 10 Most Literate Countries In the World from some of the website’s criteria. Let us now delve into the list.

“To succeed, you will soon learn, as I did, the importance of a solid foundation in the basics of education—literacy, both verbal and numerical, and communication skills.” — Alan Greenspan

#1. Canada

Education is one of the highest priorities of the Canadian government. Canada is one country with a mix of both career and skill-based curriculum. Various educational statistics show a high influx of students from all over the world who travel to Canada to get a first-hand experience of their amazing academic resources. Their immigration policies are also welcoming, which catalyzes to spur international students’ influx to the nation—a golden channel for aggrandizing the country’s knowledge capital. The literacy rate is approximated to be 56.71% of the population. As of 2011, the education expenditure in Canada has been about 5.3% of its GDP.

#2. Japan

Japan has a high rate of talented and educated persons—forming a viable workforce pool for many of its industries and corporations. Japan is particularly well equipped to train its youths in areas of technology. Their focus on technology has earned them a reputation of being even more advanced than most western countries. One wouldn’t talk about Japan without mentioning technology—it is a golden arrow in their body politic quiver. The educational motto of Japan is nothing short of mega-inspirational. It stipulates that they, Japan, is “Creating a society in which people of all ages, from children to adults, can learn and apply their newfound skills anytime, anywhere.” Can you beat that? The literacy rate in Japan is about 51.44%. As of 2016, the education expenditure in Japan has been about 3.5% of its GDP.

#3. Israel

Israel is in the ranks of one of the developed nations of the world. Israel is apt in finance knowledge, and most of the nation’s populace is highly educated. Israel also has a thriving Tech Start-Up scene, making it one of the world’s places for technological innovations. For instance, they are one of the global leaders of Cyber-Security. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs posits that Israel “is a hotbed of hi-tech activity, with the world’s highest investment per capita in start-up companies.” The literacy rate in Israel is about 50.92%. As of 2016, the education expenditure in Israel has been about 5.8% of its GDP.

#4. South Korea

South Korea can arguably be said to be one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Most of the country’s populace is educated, which is the reason for the boost in the country’s economy. The South Korean Ministry of Education hinges the educational development of their country on the philosophy of “People-centered Education of the Future.” Their goal is to create “an education system that cherishes the great value of cooperation and co-existence while focusing on the comprehensive growth of students,” as established by Yoo Eun-hae, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education for the Republic of Korea. The literacy rate of South Korea is approximately 47.74%. As of 2015, the education expenditure in South Korea has been about 5.3% of its GDP.

#5. United States of America (USA)

There was a time when the United States was at the top of the list of the world’s most literate nations. However, due to contentment, ineptitude, and lower primacies given to education, they have been toppled from the top of the list to the #5 spot now. Will it ever regain the #1 position on this list? Only time and the nation’s policies will tell. The United States of America (USA) is still one of the nations that lead with a high literacy rate. The US hasn’t slowed in education and development—with a population of 326 million, almost half of the populace is educated. Many of the US universities rank among some of the best Universities in the world, such as Stanford University, Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, Yale University, Princeton University, etc. The literacy rate of the US is approximately 46.36%. As of 2014, the education expenditure in the US has been about 5.0% of its GDP.

“If we talk about literacy, we have to talk about how to enhance our children’s mastery over the tools needed to live intelligent, creative, and involved lives.” — Danny Glover.

#6. United Kingdom (UK) 

The UK educational style is credited as one of the best in the world. It has many top universities in the world with students from different countries. The populace’s literacy levels are at an all-time high; thus, many high-quality white-collar jobs prevail in the country. Many UK universities rank among some of the best Universities in the world, such as the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, etc. The literacy rate of the UK is approximately 45.74%. As of 2016, the education expenditure in the UK has been about 5.5% of its GDP.

#7. Ireland

There is a lot of meaning hidden in Ireland’s Department of Education goal statement. It states that Ireland’s educational goal is “To facilitate individuals through learning, to achieve their full potential and contribute to Ireland’s social, cultural and economic development.” In an Op-Ed on the Irish Post by Rachael O’Connor, “Irish citizens spend an average of 12 years in full-time education.” This makes the Republic of Ireland one of the most highly educated countries in the world. The literacy rate of Ireland is approximately 45.66%. As of 2016, the education expenditure in Ireland has been about 3.7% of its GDP.

#8. Australia

As far as Australia might be regarding most countries’ geographic location, it is still one of the world’s most developed and wealthiest nations. Many tourist sites abound in Australia, attracting people from over the world to visit. The Literacy level in this country is very high and has many top universities where international students constitute about 25% of their population. The literacy rate of Australia is approximately 45.36%. As of 2016, the education expenditure in Australia has been about 5.3% of its GDP.

#9. Finland

Finland operates an effective educational system that can be measured at a secondary level. Their educational system is nothing but revolutionary. Finland is leading the way educationally through “common-sense practices and utilizing a holistic teaching ambiance that strives for equity over excellence.” The literacy rate of Finland is approximately 44.30%. As of 2016, the education expenditure in Australia has been about 6.9% of its GDP. Finland outspends most nations of the world in revolutionizing its educational system. In terms of this listicle, they come in second only to Norway in spending.

#10. Norway

Norway boasts of a tuition-free education both for its citizenry and international students. The reason is that Norway believes that “everyone should have access to education regardless of socio-economic background.” The literacy rate of Norway is approximately 43.21%. As of 2016, the education expenditure in Norway has been about 8% of its GDP. The nation of Norway outspends all nations on this listicle on their educational system.

“The biggest impact my father had on my life was teaching the importance of literacy.” — Thomas Steinbeck.

Global literacy is on the rise through the ages. It is a symbolism of power. Those who know to gain access to power. Those who have power control the affairs of those who do not. The pursuit of universal knowledgeability in Europe was spawned from the Enlightenment.1 In the 1800s, the literate world population, was at 12.05%, and the illiterate population then was at 87.95%. As of 2014, the literate world population is 85.3%, and the illiterate world population was 14.7%. With the growing global population, only 17% of the world is illiterate now. Global literacy rates have been increasing by 4% every 5 years—from 42% in 1960 to 86% in 2015.1 Global literacy is a human right. However, despite the fast-rising literacy levels, some are still in the stone age of scholarship.  For instance, in Niger, the literacy rate of the youth (15-24 years) is only at 36.5%—this is abysmal.1 Illiteracy is dehumanizing, and the world needs to arise and combat it fiercely.

Nations who wish to stay competitive in an age advancing in technology need to educate their populace. Failure to do so will lead to a nation that will not compete in the future global economy. From all the countries that we have seen with high literacy rates, you can attest that all these nations are global leaders for development, technology, and innovation—thanks to high literacy rates that translate to bolstered economies. These nations invest many monies in their education sectors, and we see the dividend—a multi-angled power of macrocosmic proportions. We can boldly say that governments that focus on enhancing their literacy status invest in their hope and future. Those that are not are dashing all hopes of staying alive in a growing knowledge economy. At the bottom of the totem pole, nations need to re-invent themselves and fast when it comes to literacy rate. If not, they will evaporate every chance of survival in the global knowledge economy moving at warp speed. A word is enough for the wise.

References

  1. Roser, M., & Ortiz-Ospina, E. (2018). Literacy. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/literacy#numeracy
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