Education makes life worth living

Story highlights

  • UNESCO releases a report that shows education can radically transform people's lives
  • Mariane Pearl: Education is the most efficient weapon to combat world's pressing problems
  • She says if all women had a primary education, child mortality could fall by a sixth
  • Pearl: It is education that makes life worth living; we should all never stop learning
One hot summer morning in Monrovia, Liberia, I came across a group of young men who had been snatched from their classrooms by paramilitary groups and turned into child soldiers. They had been drugged and forced to rape, torture and kill people. At the end of our talk, they said: "We just want to go back to school." The oldest was 16. Educating these youths meant more than imparting knowledge.
Information alone wouldn't satisfy the thirst of these war victims-turned perpetrators. Their faith in education was immense. They thought it would bring meaning to their lives. They wanted to understand what humans are made of, they wanted ethics and wisdom and skills to master acceptance or apply compassion.
In short, they wanted their dignity back. And besides crucial economic, peace and health factors, this is what education is all about.
Education is the most efficient weapon with which to address the world's most pressing problems. And as a new analysis released by UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report Team demonstrates, education's transformative power knows no boundaries.
Investing in education, especially for girls, result in substantial benefits for their health and productivity. It also increases democratic participation and empowers women, according to the UNESCO report, "Education Transforms Lives."