The Economic, Social, Cultural and Personal Development Benefits of Education
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, “education transforms lives”. Education can help an individual to develop their critical thinking, logical reasoning, and to upskill.
Education affords people the opportunity for personal development, improves their finances, and contributes to the socio-cultural development of society. Any form of education, particularly higher education can help uplift people’s lives.
The International Encyclopedia of Education defines Higher Education Institutions (HEI) as a system that supports economic growth and poverty reduction by equipping students with skills and knowledge.
Key Points at a Glance
- Education is transformative, it can help people have more opportunities.
- Education can help people become more aware of shared societal concerns such as climate change and help individuals make better choices.
- A well-meaning and educated population can help build a better future.
Education such as higher education may put a financial strain on students and is considered as one of the disadvantages of pursuing higher education.
In Canada, an international student should be ready to shell out an average of $12 thousand CAD a year. It includes tuition fee, accommodation and living expenses.
However, this expense can be balanced out with the known benefits of education such as:
The Economic Benefits of Education
Higher education institutions play a big role in contributing to the economy. In a United Nations article titled “Higher Learning Institutions and Global Citizen Education” it was mentioned that higher education acts as “drivers of global economic growth.”
Aside from the microeconomic benefit of helping individuals get higher wages. Income generated by higher education institutions can boost economies!
A 2016 report titled “Beyond $300 Billion: The Global Impact of International Students” stated that international students had contributed (as the title suggests) $300 billion in the global economy.
The report also said that for this trend to continue, there must be an “aligning national policies and institutional strategies”.
The Canadian government recognizes the capacity of higher education institutions to drive economic growth and has even developed an International Education Strategy for the years of 2019 through 2024.
According to Canada’s official website, international students had spent an estimated $21.6 billion on tuition, accommodation, and other expenses in 2019 alone. Indeed, higher education institutions’ income gained from catering to international students is a “large and growing contribution to Canada’s prosperity”.
The Social Benefits of Education
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said that education helps society by increasing the number of skilled or knowledgeable people. It can also help them get better employment opportunities and access to networks. The OECD also said that policy makers should recognize this power.
This message is echoed in a HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory, called “haystack”) blog, education such as higher education can help people be interested or aware of social activities and concepts such as “voting, volunteering, political interest and interpersonal trust”.
Educational institutions have a role to play in developing a “global citizen” culture through education. According to the United Nations, the concept of “global citizenship” will help individuals embrace their social responsibility.
Educating people about shared challenges such as climate change, plastic pollution, and food security can help them see that we are on the same ocean but sometimes on different boats.
The Cultural Benefits of Education
Education plays a crucial role in developing perspective in its academic body (administration, teachers, students). Fostering an inclusive environment is a key to having a safe and conducive learning environment.
An inclusive learning environment facilitates cultural exchange. The stories and experiences from internal students offer a window into their country for domestic students and vice versa.
This interaction can help domestic students broaden their perspectives and enrich their knowledge about countries beyond their own.
Aside from facilitating cultural exchange by having international students, educational institutions should embed international affairs in the curriculum in line with global citizenship.
The Personal Development Benefits of Education
According to the Statistics Canada data, there is a correlation between higher employment opportunities and higher education. Investing in higher education will boost a student’s chances for landing a job that offers a higher wage.
Moreover, higher education can help students develop critical thinking that can help them make better decisions for themselves, their future, and even society as a whole.
Economic, social, and cultural factors are taken into account when deciding to pursue higher education. The desire to pursue a higher education is unique in every person. For example, some see it as a means to improve their socio-economic status while others see it as an act of resistance to age-old cultural beliefs.
There may be various reasons why a person chooses to take up higher education but there is one ultimate outcome from this endeavor– working in an academic environment will help students build the discipline needed to succeed in life such as making and following schedules, analytical skills, even communication and negotiating skills.
Of course, those disciplines can be learned outside the classroom through life experiences but it is always good to have a head start! The pros of education, specifically higher education outweighs its known cons.
- Canada international education page. (n.d.). Building on Success: International Education Strategy (2019-2024). International GC Canada. https://www.international.gc.ca/education/strategy-2019-2024-strategie.aspx?lang=eng
- International Encyclopedia of Education (Third Edition). (2010). Higher Education Institutions. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/higher-education-institutions
- International students generate global economic impact of US$300 billion. (2019, August 29). ICEF Monitor. https://monitor.icef.com/2019/08/international-students-generate-global-economic-impact-of-us300-billion/
- Jelinek, V., & Fomerand, J. (n.d.). Higher Learning Institutions and Global Citizen Education. Un.org. https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/higher-learning-institutions-and-global-citizen-education
- Mizrahi, R. (2020, September 17). Same Ocean, Different Boats: The Pandemic’s Disproportionate Impact On Certain Workers, Employment Law’s Protections, And Its Limitations. Mizrahi Law. https://mizrahilaw.com/article-same-ocean-different-boats/
- OECD (2013), “What Are the Social Benefits of Education?”, Education Indicators in Focus, No. 10, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/5k4ddxnl39vk-en.
- Statistics Canada. (2007). Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2021, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-222-x/2008001/sectionf/f-education-eng.htm
- Study costs for international students in Canada. (n.d.). EduCanada. https://www.educanada.ca/programs-programmes/education_cost-cout_education.aspx?lang=eng