A proper education is often regarded as the gateway to success and esteem, particularly for impoverished students who lack close social connections with esteemed individuals or a family legacy of wealth to fall back on. However, achieving a proper education necessitates educational facilities to provide adequate funding and a successful allocation of resources to students. Oftentimes, the communities that need adequate educational institutions the most are the very same communities that are most deficient in them.

As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the United States’ Department of Education has allocated a total budget of $24.8 billion for the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 5.7 percent of its GNP. However, accounting for pensions and service costs, the actual operating budget is $19.8 billion. The operating budget must pay for standardized tests, transportation, safety, school meals, supplies, and school utilities, just to name a few conditions necessary to maintain an educational institution.

On the other hand, Kenya allocated approximately 6.7 percent of its GNP on education in 2010. Although this percentage ranks higher than the percentage of GNP that the U.S. puts forth towards education, Kenya still retains a lower GNP and thus provides less overall educational funds. This inadequacy in resources has significant implications on the number of Kenyans who are able to achieve an adequate education.

For instance, in the U.S., roughly 75 percent of the population, the highest percentage within the last four decades, graduates from high school. In contrast, a whopping 60 percent of residents are unable to attend secondary school, perpetuating the cycle of illiteracy and reliance. Although the dropout rate is high for all Kenyans, it disproportionately affects young girls who are trapped into early marriages and motherhood. Oftentimes, Kenyan children are unable to pay school tuition, which includes covering the cost of supplies and uniforms, and are forced to stay home to support their family.

Furthermore, in Kenya, the majority of educational funds, approximately 80 percent are given towards tertiary education, which typically only individuals from more-advantaged backgrounds are able to achieve in the first place. There is great speculation that the Kenyan education system may be improved by shifting the allocation of funds towards lower-tier education enabling less advantaged students to obtain an adequate education and break through poverty. Unless resources are not only expanded but also allocated properly, this discrepancy in educational achievement will continue to exist not only in Kenya but worldwide.

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: NYC Department of Education, Global Education Fund, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Nation Master
Photo: Vintage 3D