What education means to me — Sam, Communications Officer

My name is Sam Datlof and I am the Communications Officer for Niños de Guatemala (NDG).  I want to take this first post to tell you all a bit about what NDG does and what being a part of NDG–promoting education–means to me.

So what is NDG, anyway?  We’re an education/community development nonprofit that works with Guatemalans to implement small-scale projects to help children and their families break the cycle of poverty.  As an organization, we believe that education is the most reliable way to do this.  Education pays dividends over and over.  An educated child can go on to help not only him or herself, but also his or her family and community.

Even if we look at just the impact on an individual child who receives an education, the effect is enormous.  Depending on the country and the ethnic group to which a child belongs, an additional year of schooling can increase an individual’s income by more than 15% on average.  That can be the difference between hunger and having enough to eat.  For an adult, it can be the difference between needing your children to stay at home to work the fields during the day, and being able to send your children to school to become educated themselves.

Looking beyond easily quantifiable measures like income, education also has powerful impacts on societies as a whole.  An educated society can be a more stable society.  When people understand their rights, they will be more able to advocate for those rights.  When everyone knows how to read and how to think critically, the aristocracy and the government will have a harder time taking advantage of the masses.

To me though, the most tangible impact of education is how it affects health.  Consider this: every minute, a woman somewhere in the world dies from childbirth. Probably several during the time it has taken you to read this post.  Moreover, in Guatemala, only about 32% of indigenous women claim to have knowledge of any contraceptive method. Not only are women in the developing world put at an unacceptable degree of risk every time they have a child, but many of them don’t even have the knowledge necessary to practice family planning!

How can we change that?  Through education.  It’s well documented that education, especially of women, leads to lower fertility rates. Education gives people more control over every aspect their lives, including family planning.  We think this makes perfect sense. 

At the end of the day, from my point of view, development and education are about helping people have more agency over their own lives—helping them live their lives in a way that they choose.

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