Education and family should never be mutually exclusive

9 Jan 2014

Further to my previous article on the dangers and threats that many children and young people face within their own countries in order to receive an education, a report released by BBC News reveals that safety issues aren’t the only blockades to education, but also financial constraints. As much as I understand that this is the way that the education system in the Middle East has affected people for years, it cannot continue in this way. To date, many have sold property and put their life savings into their children’s education, sending them far away from home so that they can learn. As we all would do for any young family members, parents and families in the Middle East want the best education for their children to grow up and succeed. 


Despite their hopes that this will result in something positive, it often drains the lifeblood and money from families that, to be honest, don’t need such problems. Living in the conditions that many of them do, it breaks up families and can sometimes risk them missing moments that no child should ever have to. In the case that was made by BBC News, a student was looking forward to seeing his grandparent after a term at school, unfortunately however, an illness had killed his grandparent before he got home, meaning he was never able to see him again. No one wants to see a family member die, but at the same time, missing many of these moments robs children of the chance of saying goodbye. No matter what, it should never be the case that families are split for the sake of education. Education is a right, but so is the right to a family life. They should go together, not be a choice or sacrifice of each other.

Nevertheless, the fact that kids are being sent off in bus loads to take exams just shows how dedicated some families must be. I still applaud students for wanting to learn and going to these lengths to do so. In this country, we often do not enjoy education and have it right on our doorstep, so to speak. Many in the Middle East will travel miles away from their homes in order to get the education that they so desperately need and want. 

Our education is accessible, free until you we are eighteen, and we take that for granted. Every now and then, we should put into perspective our own circumstances compared to those in poor and war torn countries. Perhaps then we will be appreciative for what we have got, and will do our best to improve the situation for people in countries that are less fortunate than us.

Overall, it is great to see that many want to learn, despite testing environmental circumstances in foreign nations, but it’s absolutely ridiculous families have to take such extreme measures to ensure that their children receive an education. It costs money, family time, and can mean that the family miss important moments together. I get convenient travel to my college for free; I get the course for free. And what do they get? Not much it seems. No one should have to sacrifice their family’s livelihood to give a child an education.

Backbench Minister for Education

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