By Ansley Prior
Bath-Dewitt Connection staff writer
“Education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century.” These inspiring words spoken by President Barack Obama at Cairo University in 2009, radiate hope. Unfortunately, across the globe and here in Michigan, the difficulties of education are only growing.
According to USAID, only 30 percent of students read and write at grade level in many of the countries they operate in. As many as four out of ten students do not complete elementary school and even more do not go to high school. Of those who do, at least 40 percent don’t graduate.
When significant parts of a population aren’t receiving any type of higher education, problems arise; an almost non-existent middle class for example. In the Dominican Republic, where according to UNESCO as little as 58 percent of students are enrolled in high school, most live in poverty.
Sarah Ross, founder and lead teacher at 3 Mariposas Montessori in Cabarete, Domincan Republic, is part of the effort to encourage education.
“Our vision is to create a unique early childhood development program that will provide children with the critical foundation needed for educational success and a healthy life,” Ross said.
Organizations like 3 Mariposas are critical to the future success of these areas, where higher education is so rare that UNESCO’s only record of it says, “Data not available.”
Growing up in the United States, statistics like this can be hard to comprehend. As part of the small percentage of the world that can realistically go to college, are educators and students taking advantage of the opportunity?
According to an article by The Associated Press, a new report shows more than half of Michigan’s high schools will have less than 10 percent of their graduates this spring ready for college.
Bath High School is doing everything it can to make sure its students will be ready, despite what the statistics say.
“I think there may be a misconception in the community that we aren’t doing enough to prepare students for higher education, while in reality, we do a lot,” principal Matt Dodson said.
“We start with a pledge to graduate and try and get the students thinking about what a diploma means to them,” Dodson said. According to him, the challenge is trying to accommodate the elective interests of an entire school.
High school choir and a drama class were both added this year to give students more options.
Along with tests like the MME and ACT, and junior and senior seminars, students also have access to “Counselor’s Corner,” a website dedicated to career and college planning.
Students can find links and information for scholarships, college applications, college visits, graduation requirements, financial aid, standardized tests and much more.
According to the census bureau, only about a third of today’s 25 to 34-year olds hold a bachelors degree or higher. Hopefully Bath’s efforts to adequately prepare their students for higher education will catch on in other areas of Michigan.