I am not known for my intelligence. I never was and I never will be. But as long as I am known as a funny and a nice gal, that is alright with me. Of course I hope there are other, more interesting traits that people remember me by; maybe one day this blog will make me rich and famous, but being “nice” isn’t all that bad.
And although someone in high school once called me a “braniac” with huge sarcasm, I did make it through university and I have several other qualifications in finance. Actually I should track that guy down and shove my education up.. never mind. One thing is for sure, my education did me very good, however I think what really did me good was everything else around it. Education does not necessarily make you more intelligent nor is it the sure way to success and wealth. My experiences are what made me grow, learn and become who I am today. Nonetheless, education is important.
I met this woman the other day and as I was telling her about myself it hit me once again that being born a Swede has been a privilege. Because being Swedish is part reason I have a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree and fluency in English with a little knowledge of spanish, italian and swedish sign language. Of course you don’t have to be Swedish to get this, but in a way it was for me.
Most of us want an education, because it is an asset we will keep with us for the rest of our lives and can pop onto that CV which will land us a job. And if you are Swedish, you get education for free. You only have to pay for study material once you get up to university level. And if you don’t have money to pay for study material there is a governmental body that provides student loans at a very low rate of interest. You can even ask to borrow more to cover rent and bills. Therefore, no matter what social class you are from, education is an option. Sweden also has a system where, if you were partying too much in high school and suddenly wanted to better your grades so you can get accepted to your preferred course, or change that big fat FAIL to a nice green lettered PASS, then you can do so. And you can do it without worrying about food on your table.
You can even do it without worrying about paying the loan back, because repayments are based on future annual income so you will be able to afford it. If you don’t earn, you don’t pay.
Actually you can even study with good conscience, because the teachers are sure to make enough money to provide for their own families, pay off their own student loans and go on regular holidays. Just like any other employed professional. Well, except for these professionals in São Paulo.
Because in Brazil, teachers are underpaid, overworked, underappreciated and there just aren’t enough. Actually, underpaid just doesn’t quite do it for me. More like slavery.
Actually, the educational system in Brazil is a complete disaster. Over 80% of all educational institutions here are private; if you can’t pay, you can’t go. Therefore, unless you are a damn good football player or a good preacher who can trick people into teething for your own profit; if you are poor you are likely to stay poor. Because not everyone is like Joaquim Barbosa; once a poor child who worked as a cleaner to get through school, and now President of the Supreme Court with an impressive academic record and fluency in four languages.
I really believe that if you have heard your parents moan about how little money they have all your life, and you never got a birthday or christmas present, then you are probably longing for that day that you can get a job and make your own cash. I bet that child won’t “waste” their time studying. Poor breed poor, rich breed rich. It’s a vicious circle, at least most times.
Obviously intelligence takes you far anywhere in the world, but in Sweden you can get pretty far, or at least get a decent job, with a bit of patience and effort, even if you have no further education or big brains. In Brazil it’s almost like you have to be from a “good family” to get somewhere even remotely decent. Or you have to be lucky. And if you don’t fit into either of those categories, then being white always helps.
Sweden is the reason I have what I have. But Sweden isn’t the reason I know what I know.