14 Sep

Map of the Week: Completed Tertiary Education


By Sara Ryan

Tertiary or “further”, education refers to any Study beyond the level of secondary education (high school). Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as business, music/art and  teacher-training schools. The map above by Wise Voter depicts the percentage of a given country’s population that holds a higher education diploma.  Coming in at number one, South Korea holds the highest third level education rate at 69%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Burundi comes in at last with a third level education rate of less than 1%. Although northern hemisphere countries dominate the upper percentages, countries such as Australia highlight how economic status boosts education levels, regardless of barriers posed by geographic isolation.

In today’s age, primary and secondary education are viewed as a human right and in most countries on Earth, constitutionally guaranteed. However, access to third level education is often restricted.  With more people accessing primary and secondary education, tertiary education is the new defining factor between qualified and unqualified prospective employees. It has become increasingly common for employers to require at least one higher diploma (oftentimes even two), even though higher diplomas are still disproportionately difficult to achieve. 

Within the Global North, exponential growth of university fees in countries such as the United States has significantly hindered the amount of the population able to access third level education. Furthermore prospective students who originate from rural areas where no local university is present are hindered by the mounting costs of living and transport associated with “moving away for college”. Across the globe, issues such as famine, war and drought have meant all education has been placed on the back burner. Children are often taken out of school to work and provide money for their families, emigrate to escape warzones and to take care of older, younger and ill family members. In particular, women and minorities are often robbed of access to third level education due to cultural norms or discriminatory admissions processes. 

Although many steps have been taken to break down barriers to third level education, such as diversity allotments in university admissions, scholarships and grants for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and free education to refugees, many issues remain. Education is the key to human advancements in all aspects of our lives. By prioritizing education, we as a planet could cultivate a highly skilled global workforce, stimulate innovation, and achieve significant economic growth.

This year, the American Geographical Society’s Geography Educator Initiative is offering AP Human Geography teachers across the United States a chance to enhance their students’ learning with GeoBoost. Through the GeoBoost program, we will provide 60-70 teachers with $300 grants to purchase geography or geospatial-related activities or resources. It’s easy to apply, and your odds of being selected are high!

We are eager to see the new geographical ideas and experiences you bring to your classroom. Applications are open until October 31st!