In early 2021, a worldwide increase in inflation began. This inflation is not expected decrease until the middle of 2023, according to Forbes. Many people have speculated what cause this inflation and the most common reason would be the worldwide pandemic caused the economy to contract. Businesses were shut down and many workers were laid off. This resulted in people decreasing their spending.
What is inflation?
Inflation occurs when the prices of goods and services rise while the value of currency falls. This worldwide inflation has affected many areas of life, like food and transport. One of its more unfortunate effects would be on education. Impacting education could have unintended long-term impacts that affects a country’s social well-being and economy.
Increase in students leaving school
In 2022, Boston University stated that they would be increasing their tuition by 4.25% for the coming academic year, which was their largest increase in 14 years. Due to inflation, not only will the cost of living increase, education costs will increase as well. Many students often financially support themselves, as they do not have the privilege of being financially supported by their parents or a scholarship. These students may find it increasingly difficult to juggle their studies and academics as they need a higher income to support the cost of living. It pushes students into a hard corner where they have to face the choice of having to choose between their education or basic necessities. Though some schools may provide financial aid, it is often not enough to cover their expenses.
This may cause students to leave school for work to support themselves. When students leave their education for a while, it may be difficult to get back to school as they cannot adapt back to the academic rigour and may need a lot of time to catch up with the work.
Rising cost of going to school
In Tokyo, Senju Aoba Junior High School swapped out their fruits in school lunches for jelly because of rising costs. Schools have been using cheaper alternatives to prevent school lunch prices from increasing, to prevent low-income students from skipping meals.
With rising inflation, the costs of going to school will increase. The cost of schooling not only includes school fees but also school supplies like textbooks, stationary, uniforms and school meals. Families who are already struggling financially are more vulnerable to these changes. Inflation will add on to their struggles, such as having to find cheaper alternatives or cut back on their spending. Sometimes that may even mean a child having to cut down on meals, which will have adverse effects on their health.
Studies have also shown that students who skip meals have much more difficulty studying. The effects of malnutrition are inability to focus, lack of motivation to study and absenteeism. These are prevalent problems occurring in developed countries like US, what more about less developed countries like Thailand or Indonesia? Thus, rising cost resulting from inflation can negatively affect the affordability of schools.
Inflation will affect two groups of students differently: those who are planning to take a loan to cover their current or future education expenses, and those who have already completed their education and have an education loan to repay.
For the former, they will face higher interests rates on their loans. It is possible that this will cause students to rethink taking on education loans to further their studies. Studies have shown that countries with a greater portion of their population attending and graduating from schools see faster economic growth than countries with less-educated workers. This is because workers with higher education are able to more efficiently carry out tasks that require literacy and critical thinking. With the drop in the number of workers with higher education, a country’s economy may suffer as it is not able to remain competitive with a low-skilled workforce.
On the other hand, inflation may not be all that bad for certain groups of people. For students who already have loans, they may rejoice during inflation. This is because the amount that they borrowed and the interest rates they are paying are usually fixed. Money gets devalued during inflation, hence the amount they have to pay in real terms on their loans will be less.
Who are the Patatas?
Here at the Patatas, we are also concerned about tackling educational issues, more specifically educational inequality in Southeast Asia. We are a social enterprise that has worked with schools in the Philippines such as our CaseStudy project with Tiwala Kids and Communities and have several exciting upcoming projects! To us, an inclusive education means including children from different socio-economic backgrounds. We are currently exploring innovative ways to give opportunities to the communities without power or internet to make education accessible and affordable to them through technology. If you are interested in working with us, reach out to us!
Inflation isn’t just an issue limited to the realm of the cost of living. It also affects other parts of our lives, such as education. It is important that governments and educational institutes take into account these issues that students will face and plan measures such that the social welfare and economy of a country will not be heavily affected in theses difficult times.