Rihanna says she hated school - but UNESCO reminds us that a girl's earning potential goes up by 20% for every year she completes

Rihanna speaking at the 4th Annual Diamond Ball benefit at Wall Street, New York.
Rihanna speaking at the 4th Annual Diamond Ball benefit at Wall Street, New York.

Education is a powerful tool and part of a journey where you're constantly evolving as you learn. This is how Rihanna’s opinion piece, published on The Guardian, kicks off. 

It’s a sentiment I am fully behind, and one, that like her, I’ve really come to appreciate years after I’ve completed my formal education.

While I certainly enjoyed the learning aspect of it, school was a place I felt restless. It didn’t help that my formative years were spent being bullied.

READ MORE: Meet the women turning plastic waste into a communal fortune they can use to pay school fees and feed other kids

This complex relationship with school is clearly something that’s universal because even Rihanna would have much rather played at home and hung out in the streets instead of dealing with the daily grind that was school. 

Today though, she is advocating for education to be made accessible to people across the world, particularly disadvantaged children.

As she states: “Growing up in Barbados, I did not always love school. It can feel like a grind, especially when you’d rather be singing, playing sports or doing pretty much anything other than homework. I realise now that I often took it for granted that I was even able to go to school.”

The 2017 Harvard Humanitarian Award recipient strongly believes that through collective advocacy work, we can all help to create opportunities for young children – particularly from countries where ingrained sexism, racism, poverty and violence are so deeply entrenched.

Rihanna’s philanthropy extends beyond simply making a call to be inclusive. She’s actively contributed to uplifting the community in her hometown, Barbados and has provided scholarships of up to $50 000 (more than R732 000) to students across the Caribbean.

READ MORE: This is why your goals don’t have an expiry date

And in a world where education has become a luxury instead of a right, she points out that it's one that unfortunately sees girls being less likely to complete their schooling. 

She adds that “each additional year of primary schooling boosts a girl’s prospective income by up to 20%", which is why education is imperative. And according to Global Health Partnership, educated girls are better equipped to deal with life and are more equipped to take on bigger economic roles within their communities. 

Michelle Obama in an interview with U.S. Agency for International Development publication confirms this. She says when “girls are educated, they are less likely to contract HIV and more likely to delay childbearing and vaccinate their children.”

The former First Lady of the U.S. adds that research has also pointed out that educating women has also shown that it’s good for economies worldwide

What Rihanna is highlighting is not just the plight of a lack of education within her own home country, but she’s calling for global support everywhere.  

She adds: “Every voice counts, and limited knowledge is no reason to stay silent. We all have a stake in this.”

And how right she is. Education is a tool of empowerment, one that not only equips us with necessary knowledge, but also arms us with resources to uplift and empower those who weren’t provided with the opportunity to go to school as many of us have.

And one need only look to our own country to realise that we still have a long way to go in terms of developing and providing educational resources for those in need and giving every young girl and boy the chance to become the engineers, teachers and CEOs of the future. 

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