Unequal Access to Education in America

Abbie Key
5 min readFeb 12, 2021

Education plays an important role in success today. Without an education, it’s more difficult to get a job, to read, and get through daily life. Think about how much you use the skills you learned in school in everyday life. Like reading signs, doing quick math in your head, knowing fractions for baking, and social skills developed from school. There are a lot of people in this world who do not have the same access to education as others. It’s too expensive or they have to provide for a family, so working at a minimum wage job or one that doesn’t require a college degree is easiest. The amount of education women receive greatly impacts the rate of maternal mortality. There have been many studies of the impact education has to women giving birth. One article “ Does women’s education reduce rates of death in childbirth?” explains how education helps decrease the death rate. “Attaining basic health knowledge at low levels of education may have important effects on an individual’s likelihood of dying in childbirth. Moving an additional one percent of women into primary education (from no education) would reduce rates of maternal death by between 5–8 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is four percent of the mean value of maternal death during the period under study” (Does women’s education reduce rates of death in childbirth?). In the graph from the article the quote is referring to, shows the maternal mortality rate (MMR) decreasing in each country as the years of education rises.

While looking at the rates in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, out of the “287,035 inpatients giving birth in 373 health care institutions in 24 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, between 2004–2005 (in Africa and Latin America) and 2007–2008 (in Asia) as part of the WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health…There were 363 maternal deaths” (The relationship between maternal education and mortality among women giving birth in health care institutions: Analysis of the cross sectional WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health). From these numbers, the WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health was able to determine that “Lower levels of maternal education were associated with higher maternal mortality even amongst women able to access facilities providing intrapartum care. More attention should be given to the wider social determinants of health when devising strategies to reduce maternal mortality and to achieve the increasingly elusive MDG for maternal mortality” (The relationship between maternal education and mortality among women giving birth in health care institutions: Analysis of the cross sectional WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health).

So why does education matter so much in terms of giving birth? Like I mentioned earlier, education has way more benefits than just learning quadratics or about The Crusades. It increases self-esteem and significantly boosts critical thinking. In the article “The Effects of Women’s Education on Maternal Health: Evidence from Peru,” written by Abigail Weitzman, explains how “Greater cognitive skills, and especially literacy, should benefit maternal health by increasing women’s ability to seek information about their own health and by assuring that women are better able to follow written instructions (for example, understanding directions on a box of medication). Similar explanations have been given for why mothers’ literacy protects against child mortality (Smith-Greenaway 2013).” So clearly education is important in decreasing maternal mortality rates, but the rates regarding races and education makes the “easy solution” more difficult.

There is an obvious gap between white and black education completion, and it can be used to help explain how blacks are more likely to end up unemployed, non-marital births are twice as likely, and that over half of black children grow up with one parent. An article titled “Demographic trends and economic well-being,” focuses on the impact on education comparing blacks and whites. “ Non-marital births are far more common among blacks than whites. In 2014, roughly seven-in-ten (71%) births to black women occurred outside of marriage, compared with 29% of births to white women. This gap in non-marital childbearing is a longstanding one” (Demographic trends and economic well-being). Women who are not married are proven to have a higher mortality rate related to childbirth. In the article “The relationship between maternal education and mortality among women giving birth in health care institutions: Analysis of the cross sectional WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health” the authors explain how “Those not married or cohabiting had almost twice the risk of death of those who were. There was a significantly higher risk of death among those aged over 35 (compared with those aged between 0 and 25 years), those with higher numbers of previous births and lower levels of state investment in health care.” Education affects the way we are developed, and when a part of the population does not have access to something so valuable, it is easier to create a division between races.

There is an organization working to fix the educational gap between races called Child-to-Child. Ann M. Veneman, author of Education Is Key to Reducing Child Mortality: The Link Between Maternal Health and Education | United Nations” says Child-to-Child “provides training and materials that allow teachers to equip students to pass on the knowledge they gain to siblings who are either not, or not yet, in school. This programme has been tested in many countries and has demonstrated that it successfully spreads healthful habits and practices beyond schools and into homes and communities.” The work that Child-to-Child is doing is very important in making sure the education is being passed through families and encouraged. Education encourages critical thinking needed to make important decisions and black women are already at a disadvantage for such a valuable tool.

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Abbie Key
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In a world where you can be anything, be kind