By Michael Wilson – While there are many obstacles to education, three of what might be considered the most pervasive are poverty, cultural differences, and lack of quality teachers. Poverty is rampant around the world and in many cases, children have to work instead of attending school. For instance, in Pakistan “Another problem that Pakistan faces is that many poor rural and urban families depend on their children to contribute to the family income through work” (Sernau. 2012, p99). This is not something that is specific only to Pakistan; but is found in many of the developing countries which don’t have a strong infrastructure in place, The only solution to this is to help build the economic base of these countries, which can be complicated due to differing social, cultural, and political realities.
Often children who are not in the mainstream ethnic or social groups who have trouble with the language, a different religion, or race/ethnicity, have difficulty adapting and learning,(Sernau, 2012) Anytime a person feels different or left out of the group it puts a psychological barrier in their mind, that can be very difficult to overcome. Most of us can remember being the “new kid” in school and trying to find a group where we fit in. That is something that can be very troubling, so imagine what it must be like to be an immigrant, and your native language is not the language of the majority of people. This is something that only an alertness to the struggle of a student by either other students or faculty can help overcome. It requires an attention to details and the willingness to help.
Finally, another obstacle to education especially in rural areas is it is difficult to retain qualified teachers. In the Unites States, there are numerous reasons for this, lack of infrastructure, lack of access to technology, perception of an aging population, lack of a viable economic base. There is another factor that has lead to the decay of some rural school systems, a lack of financial support from the community. “In states where property owners vote on school budget referenda, it can be hard to secure the support of the absentee landowners for maintaining the schools even if the property wealth base is high.” (Monk, 2007, 157). Without active involvement from the community, there appears to be little evidence that they consider education important. Modernizing the schools, making broadband available to all and offering the students and teachers a way to access the world would help. Insuring that the teachers were earning a livable wage would also help.
Monk, D., (2007), Recruiting and Retaining High-Quality Teachers in Rural Areas, The Future of Children, 17(1), Spring 2007, pp. 155-174 (Article)
Sernau, S. R. (2012). Global problems the search for equity, peace, and sustainability(3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.