global education solutionsEducation is a paramount issue worldwide. Many don’t realize the number of people that aren’t capable of obtaining an educational experience, and the widespread need for global education solutions.

Key Facts to Know About Education

  • About 59 million children of primary school age are currently being denied an education.
  • Almost 15 million girls in primary school will never have the opportunity of learning to read and write.
  • It would take $39 billion annually, in order for all adolescents to attend school.
  • In a third of countries analyzed in UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, there are less than three-quarters of teachers trained to national standards — which has led to 130 million students in school who aren’t learning the basics.

Children fortunate enough to go to school don’t always realize how many people wish they had the same opportunity. Access to quality schooling is a current problem for children residing in multiple countries. In Africa, specifically, all children don’t have the opportunity to attend school due to wars, weather conditions, lack of secure environments, etc. These setbacks can breed an impoverished environment, which makes children have to sacrifice their right to an education for survival.

Many schools around the world are unsatisfactory due to unsanitary environments, the lack of classroom management and the inability for students to stay engaged. The capability to read, write and communicate is so vital, especially for very young children. These skills tend to be exciting for primary school students because they are more receptive to learn at this age.

Benefits of Education

Education is a vital tool that entails obtaining knowledge through experiences, specific subject matter and relative immersion. Looking at global education solutions, everyone’s learning experience is different. Some people may be homeschooled, while others may attend public or private school.

Education has always proven to be a beneficiary for those who were fortunate enough to attend school. Language development, reading, writing, and numeration are some of the basic skills of literacy. While these may seem like small elements, they contribute to a bigger picture. Education helps reduce poverty, increase income, stress the importance of good health/hygiene, boost the economic growth, prevent disaster-related deaths, promote gender equality, combat HIV/AIDS, etc. The list is infinite and has significant global impacts.

The longer one attends school, the more knowledge one will obtain. Missing an education, especially a high school diploma, can hold one back from acquiring a job in some countries. People tend to equate education with money, and to an extent, this is often a reliable mindset to have. Without an education or some form of trade experience, it is very hard to find a job that pays enough for life’s essentials — food, water and shelter. If one lacks an education and/or these basic necessities, it can make it extremely difficult to take care of oneself and family and can lead to poverty.

What Is The Solution?

Among the multitude of things that can be done to improve school systems, change begins through a society’s attitude about the value of education. This impacts how independent nations collaborate to aid those who lack strong educational systems. Next, a nationwide level of respect has to find its way into the classroom. Teachers absolutely have to be trained and certified to properly educate the youth in every subject.

According to the Learning for All Symposium arranged by the World Bank (2014), some countries will not meet their primary school teacher requirements by 2030. Filling in teacher gaps is a challenge that can make a tremendous difference to global education. School districts have to start by hiring the best candidates for teaching positions.

Funding is the most imperative matter as far as global education solutions go. Money is necessary to maintain schools and the instructional materials needed for students. Organizations such as the Global Education Fund, Global Partnership for Education and the International Education Funders Group (IEFG) provide and receive donations for school systems worldwide.

Organizations Contributing To Global Solutions

Statistically, girls are more likely to be married before the age of 18 than they are to be enrolled in secondary school in 26 countries across the globe.

Spreading awareness and the importance of getting an education is another major factor to global education solutions. Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, began a foundation in March of 2015, called Let Girls Learn. This organization brought together the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United States Department of Labor, United States Department of Agriculture and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as well as the United States President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS.

Recognizing the many issues that adolescent girls face when trying to pursue an education, this organization is invested in expanding educational opportunities. The agencies paired with Let Girls Learn are contributing to the cause by providing safe access to schools, helping rebuild education systems, creating alternative learning programs, improving the policy and access of schools and providing nutritious meals. Parallel to Let Girls Learn, there is a plethora of organizations with the same mission — help improve the education for the youth.

Save the Children

Save The Children is another foundation that assists children around the world by ensuring a healthy start to life, and presenting an equal opportunity for education. This organization trains teachers to engage with students through effective teaching practices and introduces children to the power of artistic expression — drawing, painting, dancing, music, etc. They fulfill their goal by implementing a strong foundation for learning, even during a crisis.

As of 2018, Save The Children has provided 13.8 million children the opportunity for an education. This organization accomplishes such an amazing feat through childhood development programs that help children survive physically and emotionally; financial services that provide and educate children on money and savings in order to break the cycle of poverty; and even youth employment.

Global Education is something that can’t be entirely solved until everyone does their part to help out. Governments, school systems and parents need to work in tandem to help children receive the learning experiences they deserve.

– Kayla Sellers
Photo: Google

The Merits of a Focus on Children in Extreme PovertyChildren are the world’s future. This phrase is often uttered, yet across the globe it is rarely enforced. Children in extreme poverty are affected differently than adults. Between inadequate nutrition, exposure to stress and a lack of early stimulation and learning, the disadvantages of growing up in poverty last a lifetime.

Consequences such as stunted development, low levels of skills needed for life and work, limited future productivity as adults and the generational cycle of poverty inhibit change in children living in poverty. These consequences are especially heinous because they debilitate the global human capital needed to grow and sustain economic prosperity.

Report Details Extent of Children in Extreme Poverty

Based on data from 89 countries representing 84 percent of the developing world’s population, UNICEF and The World Bank Group estimated that 385 million children were living in extremely poor households in 2013. Children are more than twice as likely to be living in households in extreme poverty. Roughly 19 percent of children in extreme poverty are estimated to be living on less than $1.90 a day, compared to an estimated 9 percent of adults.

The World Bank Group and UNICEF researchers conducted a comprehensive range of tests to check if changing these assumptions would affect their results. They tested their findings against realistic large and small economies of scale, as well as a range of realistic ratios comparing children’s consumption to adults’. In all cases, children still emerged with higher poverty rates across developing countries.

The World Bank Group is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world as the world’s largest funder of education, the largest external financier of the fight against HIV/AIDS and the largest international financier of biodiversity projects, water supply and sanitation projects.

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child. With work in 190 countries and territories, UNICEF translates that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children to the benefit of all children in extreme poverty.

Recommendations for Governments to Help Children in Extreme Poverty

Together, UNICEF and The World Bank Group have established partnerships with governments across the globe to address child poverty and to promote a range of cross-sector investments in the early years of life. Their goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030. This vision is central to the work of the World Bank Group and UNICEF. The two organizations are calling on governments to focus on four main areas to combat extreme poverty:

  • Ensure that the number of children in extreme poverty is routinely measured and addressed at the national level as countries work towards both ending extreme poverty by 2030 and improving the well-being of their poorest citizens.
  • Make deliberate policy decisions that ensure a country’s economic growth benefits all of its citizens, including making sure children are fully considered in poverty reduction plans.
  • Strengthen child-sensitive social protection systems, including cash transfer programs that give direct payments to families to help lift children out of poverty and protect them from its impacts.
  • Prioritize investments in education, health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and infrastructure that benefit the poorest children and prevent people from falling back into poverty after setbacks like droughts, disease or economic instability.

Addressing these multidimensional aspects of children in extreme poverty is crucial. In the face of a global economic slowdown, ending extreme child poverty by 2030 will not be easy. However, change is possible.

– Richard Zarrilli

Photo: Flickr

Child Prodigies in India
An estimated 5 to 6 million child prodigies in India have IQ levels of 135 or above. Only a few will have a shot at big moves in life; the rest will remain in urban slums. Gaining admission to a university is seen as a privilege for the social elites. Discovering the child prodigies is akin to mining for diamonds in the rough.

The Vidya school has members who survey for children by collecting details of each child’s socio-economic status and testing their logic in a standardized and timed packet of problems. It has been empowering underprivileged children via integrated methods of admission. This campus boasts over 11,000 students with a nearly even ratio of boys and girls. The children from poorer families are sponsored. The minimum requirements to keep their scholarships are tenuous; the children are expected to maintain high grades and partake in extracurricular activities.

Success for the Future

These programs can put the students on a track to success in academia and career opportunities. Child prodigies in India can be instilled with a sense of fulfillment and leave a positive impact on not just the Indian economy, but the global economy.

Aside from the pressure to maintain top grades, there is also pressure to be the sole breadwinner of their families. Often the parents of these geniuses are uneducated and see little value in academia. Instead, they pin the child’s future on working immediately from childhood in roles such as housemaids for girls or physical labor for boys. If the students can’t find support from their parents, then the next best option for the child prodigies in India is mentors.

Child Marriage

An unambiguous hindrance for millions of Indian girls is child marriage. The marriage of underage girls can have a negative impact on health, education and increase the likelihood of intergenerational poverty. The marriage of underage girls in India has nearly been cut in half. Of Indian girls younger than 18, the percent that get married is 27 – compared to 47 percent just a decade ago. Better access to education for girls and better public awareness of the negative impact of child marriage are credited for the decrease.

Formative Early Years

The early years of childhood can affect the outcome of adulthood. The gap between the rich and the poor can manifest as early as nine months of age; for example, underprivileged children are enrolled in primary school a year later than their privileged classmates. Quantitative research reveals the number of vocab words and mathematics skills a student possesses can determine academic accomplishments in secondary school.

The initiative of providing opportunities to the child prodigies in India will pay off in the long run. A healthy and educated population in any country is a positive indicator that a country is making positive strides and on course to great achievements. The achievements not only benefit the nation of India, but for humanity through their contribution in science, medicine and human rights. Investing in the child prodigies in India is synonymous with investing in the future of India.

– Awad Bin-Jawed

Photo: Flickr

Right to a Childhood
In the last two decades, international organizations and nonprofits have turned their attention toward the right to a childhood. Children are vulnerable not only due to their age but also due to their lack of resources, low education and inability to effectively communicate. This combination has left children susceptible to child labor, child marriage and sex trafficking, forcing them to grow up quickly without a childhood. More must be done to harmonize regional, international and local laws to clearly define the age of a child in order to prevent confusion and children slipping through the system in order to allow every child the right to a childhood.

Prioritizing children’s right to a childhood in Malawi has a significant meaning for many young women combatting forced marriage. Child marriage, with parents’ consent, is common in Malawi for children between 15 and 18 years old. In 2015, Malawi amended its marriage law to increase the minimum age to 18. The constitution allows marriage at 15 years with parental consent.

Malawi’s Protection and Justice Act defines an adult at 16 years of age. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child defines an adult at 18 years. Harmonizing these laws would reduce confusion and decrease forced marriage by increasing the age of eligibility to marry. If this harmonizing of laws and redefining of age proves successful, this could be an example used for other countries combatting childhood labor, child soldiers and early childhood marriage, increasing availability of the right to a childhood.

The protection of a child’s innocence, as well as their right to a childhood, should start much earlier than marriage. Right to Play was founded in 2000 by four Olympic gold medalists and an entrepreneur. The nonprofit focuses on protecting a child’s critical years. “While food, water and shelter are essential, so is a childhood, complete with education and opportunities to actively engage with other children,” its website states. The organization teaches children life skills, which will help them overcome inevitable conflict and disease as they grow up.

Games engage children to participate in the programs, while the “Reflect-Connect-Apply” approach forces the children to examine their life experiences. Then they relate those experiences to their education. They finally apply this technique to their daily lives. “Reflect-Connect-Apply” focuses on creating positive, sustainable change in three areas: education, health and living in peace.

In some parts of the world today, children are not able to experience the benefits of a right to a childhood. Organizations and NGOs working on the ground level of local villages are teaching communities the value of play combined with an international movement to harmonize laws and clearly define an age for a child could help. Protecting the right to childhood is good for the immediate community and generations to come.

Danielle Preskitt

Photo: Flickr

Investing in Early Childhood
At the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings, nine countries committed to investing in early childhood needs and reduce malnutrition in developing countries.

All the countries in question are dedicated to funneling new resources into the early years of children. The hope is that by doing so, they will live longer, healthier lives and learn important tools and skills that will help them grow into well-adjusted, productive adults.

“Poor nutrition, few opportunities for early learning and stimulation, and toxic environments literally hardwire young children to miss out on opportunities to learn and later to earn good wages,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group.

According to UNICEF, children in poor environments are far more likely to experience stunted growth when compared to their richer counterparts. This is in part due to lack of access to proper nutrition, which can have negative effects on growth and development.

For instance, a recent study by The Lancet has noted that 66 percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from poverty and stunting. In South Asia, 65 percent of children are at risk of stunting which is an irreversible condition that hampers the physical and cognitive growth of children.

Organizations such as Save the Children have been working diligently to combat the issue. They have implemented School Health and Nutrition programs, which increase access to health and nutrition services in schools, such as micronutrient supplementation and vision and hearing screening.

Improving nutrition in developing countries is also one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Both programs recognize the importance of improving nutrition in developing countries to better foster appropriate physical and cognitive development in children.

By promoting healthy life behaviors, increasing access to sustainable agriculture and improving skills-based education, these institutions hope to make stunting due to child malnutrition a thing of the past.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative
Only 38% of infants are exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life. Improper and insufficient breastfeeding contributes to nearly 800,000 preventable child fatalities every year. A breastfeeding advocacy initiative would not only challenge the social pariah of the practice but also contribute to the improvement of mothers’ and children’s health worldwide.

Breast milk contains all of the nutrients that babies need in their first six months and has the ability to strengthen a child’s immune system to protect against illness. Breast milk has also increased children’s physical and cognitive development.

The benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond a baby’s health. Mothers who breastfeed reduce their risk of suffering from postpartum hemorrhage, which is a leading cause of death among new mothers. Mothers also find themselves at reduced risk for diabetes and breast cancer.

Why Breastfeeding is No Longer the Norm

So why then are such a small percentage of babies exclusively breastfed? One reason for low breastfeeding rates is the issue’s generally low prioritization by political leaders and policymakers.

Women also feel that breastfeeding is looked down upon in the workplace and the public sphere. For instance, if women cannot find a comfortable place to breastfeed at work, then their child is less likely to receive his or her’s natural source of nutrients. Additionally, there are many companies that sell formula and aggressively market the concoction as being a better alternative to breastfeeding.

To improve breastfeeding statistics, there is a global breastfeeding advocacy initiative underway with support from organizations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Initiatives focus on educating mothers and communities about the benefits of breastfeeding and supporting policies and programs that spread this message.

In the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, one in 10 children will die before they reach five years of age. Organizations such as UNICEF and the non-governmental organization CARITAS work tirelessly to improve this statistic, and a fruit of their labor has been the nutrition bungalows that now exist in Guinea-Bissau.

Nutrition Bungalows

At these bungalows, mothers of children under five years old are invited to gather monthly for information sessions. The sessions are often interactive and they focus on promoting health for mothers and children. Mothers can also have their children measured and weighed to ensure that they are meeting developmental milestones.

These nutrition bungalows and all other projects incorporating a global breastfeeding advocacy initiative aim to spread awareness and increase support for exclusive breastfeeding in both the political and social spheres. In doing so, the lives of mothers and children can be saved and their quality of life improved.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Pixabay

Early Childhood Education in the Middle EastOngoing conflict continues to hinder early childhood education in the Middle East. There are about 8,500 schools that are unusable in the region. UNICEF reports that 13 million children are not attending school as a result of violence, displacement and structural damages to schools.

Schools in countries like Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Sudan are used as shelters and storage areas in war zones. This damages the quality of the education facilities and makes them unusable when the conflict ends.

The report also suggests that there should be more financial support for early childhood education in the Middle East. Such a change needs effective work from policy makers to bring the attention of donors and supporters to the problems of child education in the region.

Moreover, the Middle Eastern governments were known for their low spending on education and basic educational facilities for children. This has even decreased from in the recent few years. In 2001, the Middle East and North Africa region spent 17.6 percent of its GDP in education. In 2008, this measure fell to 13.6 percent.

In spite of the discouraging statistics, parents in the Middle East are realizing the importance of providing education. For example, families in the UAE are willing to spend less on luxurious services and more on their children’s education. Parents realize that improving early childhood education in the Middles East provides a foundation for success in higher education and sustainable future generations.

Many students in the Middle East are looking forward to studying abroad, mainly in the United States. Parents want their children to gain an international experience that will ensure success and interaction with different cultural perspectives.

Noman Ahmed

Photo: Flickr

 Education in Nigeria

Children walking to school: an image many take for granted and expect as a given in the world today. But in many places, such as Nigeria, not every child has the opportunity to learn.

Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, comprises 20 percent of the total children not currently attending school in the world. And the problem is far from stagnant as there are 11,000 babies born every day in the country.

Politically insecure and vulnerable to attack, Nigeria’s children are at great risk for not receiving an education. The northern part of the country faces a devastating statistic as two-thirds of the children are illiterate.

An attack in Northern Nigeria forced 2.2 million people to flee their homes, resulting in the displacement of families whose children no longer have a school to attend. In 2015, USAID set out to change the status quo, teaming up with state officials and a number of non-profit organizations to improve education in Nigeria.

They developed the Education Crisis Response Program: a program designed to relieve the local schools of some of their overwhelming demands by providing education for children between the ages of six and 17 in three different Nigerian states.

Two hundred ninety-four learning centers were built for classes three days per week. In-class meals and necessary school supplies were provided. The Education Response Program did not stop there. Recognizing the possible trauma many of these children may have experienced in the rapid displacement of their families from their homes, the program also provides psychological treatment.

Teachers in these learning programs have been trained to approach their classrooms through a psychosocial mindset. They encourage group work, remain aware of the history these children hold and provide open student-teacher interaction to help them feel safe and comfortable back in the classroom.

The Nigerian government supports this program and will be entrusted with the task of carrying its essential goals through when the program is phased out in 2017. The country is also planning financially so that the education response will grow with time.

Furthermore, the World Bank announced in September of 2016 a budget of $500 million for basic education in Nigeria.

Nigeria joined the Global Partnership for Education in 2012, established to increase the amount of people receiving quality, basic education. This partnership has worked with each state to develop a plan “to outline its priorities and objectives.”

In addition, an organization called the Nigerian International Athletes Association (NIAA) will hold a conference in October. The NIAA is a union based in the United States comprised of former Nigerian athletes seeking to improve the future of athletics, education and healthcare in their home country.

According to Premium Times, the NIAA’s president plans to use the conference’s funds “to support kids from disadvantaged homes with their education and help talented young athletes to combine sports and education.”

Perhaps the NIAA’s efforts combined with those of USAID and World Bank will result in not only the maintainence of millions of children’s education, but the advancement as well. With teachers trained to care for them beyond the classroom and former athletes enabling them to chase their dreams, education in Nigeria is surely on the rise.

Rebecca Causey

Photo: Flickr

Education
A child’s right to education is threatened most during times of crisis — whether by natural disasters or war. Here are six facts explaining how crises affect education globally:

  1. According to UNICEF, one in four children ages 3 to 18-years-old are living in 35 countries affected by crises.
  2. The organization reports that there are 75 million children around the world who are seriously in need of academic support. However, less than 2 percent of humanitarian aid goes to education.
  3. During emergencies, schools are often repurposed to serve as shelters. As such, many children are displaced and as a result lose access to books, school supplies and school itself.
  4. Children that do not attend school are more susceptible to childhood marriage, army recruitment, abuse and exploitation. In addition to protecting children from these dangers, school gives children routine, stability, friends and support from teachers.
  5. According to UNICEF, over 6,000 schools in Syria are currently closed due to attacks, military occupations or because they are being used as shelters. In the Central African Republic, a quarter of primary schools, about 500, are not in session.
  6. In the most poverty stricken communities, when a child does not attend school for more than one year, it is unlikely that the child will return. In addition, it is 2.5 times more likely for girls to permanently leave school than boys, according to UNICEF.

The Education Cannot Wait Fund and #EmergencyLessons education campaigns are leading the way to make education a priority, during and after crises. UNICEF launched Education Cannot Wait at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. The fund is dedicated to supporting global education during emergencies.

Education Cannot Wait aims to close the $8.5 million funding gap and reach the 75 million children who are out of school by 2030.

In addition to The Education Cannot Wait Fund, the #EmergencyLessons education campaign was launched by UNICEF and the European Union on May 16, 2016, to stress the importance of childhood education during emergencies.

The campaign shares the personal stories and experiences of adolescents living in emergencies through social media. #EmergencyLessons targets young Europeans with the goal of inspiring awareness and support for the children whose education has been interrupted.

“Our message today is not that children need education even in emergencies, it’s that children need education especially in emergencies,” stated Queen Rania of Jordan at an Education Cannot Wait event.

Education Cannot Wait and #EmergencyLessons are working to make education a focus alongside food, water and shelter during and post periods of instability. Through these education campaigns, countries have the opportunity to empower young girls, promote economic growth and build more resilient communities.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr

Child_Education

Children can be underestimated. They are born with the ability to absorb the world around them, and their experiences shape them in unique ways. The effects of early childhood development can have a significant impact on their success when it is time for school and future careers.

By age three, children’s brains are 82 percent of their adult size. It is vital to exercise the brain in its earliest years in order to reach developmental milestones later. Everyday activities like talking, reading and singing strengthen young children’s minds.

Trillions of neural synapses, or brain-cell connections, form in the first few years of a baby’s life. Connections will be lost indefinitely if a child is not stimulated with interaction and early experiences.

Playing, speaking and singing to babies prepares them to have a larger vocabulary, succeed in school and even increases their chance of graduating high school.

“The evidence is vast: exposing children before the age of five to stimulating environments strengthens their language development, social and emotional health, problem solving abilities, memory function, use of logic, analytical skills and ability to cope with new situations – leading to significantly better performance later in school,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of Global Partnership for Education, in a Huffpost Education blog.

Albright points out that countries around the world have recently embraced the evidence and began to invest in their early childhood development programs.

Although early childhood development is important purely for the well-being of children, research has shown profound economic benefits as well. According to the Huffpost blog, for every dollar countries spend on pre-school programs, there is a $7 to $8 of economic, health and social progress.

Successful initiatives begin well before pre-school, with pre-natal maternal health, proper nutrition for breastfeeding mothers and adult caregiving skills.

Many cultures around the world benefit from classes that train the community to provide nurturing and age-appropriate activities in pre-school. Particularly low-income and disadvantaged communities often need extra efforts to create an engaging environment that will strengthen the cognitive development of children under two.

Quality early childhood care feeds a child’s ability to reach their full potential and contribute to their society.

Some obstacles developing countries encounter in establishing Early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs are a lack of funding, limited country capacity and low social demand. Organizations like Global Partnership for Education combat these barriers by providing technical and financial support, providing grants to finance the programs and supporting capacity development and knowledge sharing by pointing to the evidence.

Even though children do not talk back initially, they will learn and understand faster if they are engaged and spoken to. It is vital to educate populations around the world on the impact of early childhood care on development because it is not always prioritized simply for lack of knowledge. Quality ECCE can transform the resilience of communities and reap economic benefits.

Emily Ednoff

Photo: Flickr