Schools for Africa InitiativeImplemented in 2004, the Schools for Africa initiative is a unified effort among organizations such as UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Hamburg Society. The program specifically aims to improve access to education for the most marginalized and disadvantaged children in Africa as a means of promoting social and economic mobility through learning. Schools for Africa helps Africa advance by increasing access to “quality education in 21 countries across Africa.” Since education reduces poverty, the Schools for Africa initiative provides benefits that are far-reaching.

Supporting Education in Africa

The education initiative prioritizes fundamental elements of educational standards and accessibility in countries such as Angola, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe by funding improvements to the existing education system. Specifically, the initiative aims to construct and restore almost 1,000 schools. Furthermore, the initiative prioritizes training 100,000 teachers and supplying educational resources to schools.

The initiative also ensures clean drinking water for children and gender-separate bathrooms for students. Schools for Africa prioritizes the education of vulnerable students such as orphans, girls and extremely impoverished children. The program knocks down barriers to education, such as scarcity of economic resources, and helps lessen economic gaps throughout Africa.

Other Supporters of Schools for Africa

Organizations such as the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International have supported the Schools for Africa initiative, spreading awareness about the importance of education for children and fundraising for the cause. The Society views its contribution to the program as a critical step in fostering an inclusive and safe atmosphere for children who are particularly vulnerable, such as impoverished children and those without parents.

In 2008, the UNICEF Office for Croatia joined the Schools for Africa program, prioritizing educational improvement in Croatia by working with “kindergartens, schools and centers for education all over Croatia.” Croatia also aims to improve educational access across Africa. The UNICEF Office for Croatia and Croatian communities garnered more than six million Croatian kunas “for the education of children in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.”

Education for Poverty Reduction

In many African countries, natural disasters, insufficient infrastructure and a lack of professional training for teaching staff contribute to low school attendance for many children. For example, only a third of the teaching staff in Madagascar have adequate training. Furthermore, the Madagascan school attendance rate is exceptionally low in contrast to more developed countries. Now more than ever, it is important to acknowledge the economic inequity that correlates with low school attendance. Supporting the Schools for Africa initiative shows a commitment to reducing poverty in Africa since education and poverty are interlinked.

The Schools for Africa Initiative is now able to reach more than 30 million children. The efforts of the initiative ensure that children possess the skills and knowledge to advance and prosper in their lives ahead. Through education, children are empowered and cycles of poverty are broken.

– Kristen Quinonez
Photo: Flickr

Mission: Recovering EducationThe global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education has been devastating. According to the World Bank, more than 1.6 billion children have lost out on education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, as of March 2021, many children are still not back in school. The impact of COVID-19 on education systems globally is not just a short-term problem. These disruptions in education could potentially “amount to losses valued at $10 trillion in terms of affected children’s future earnings.” UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank have implemented a joint endeavor to ensure progress made on global education goals is not lost, especially since education is the key to poverty reduction. A 2016 report from Global Partnership for Education (GPE) states that 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if all learners had basic reading skills. For this reason, Mission: Recovering Education in 2021 focuses on three primary goals.

Mission: Recovering Education in 2021: Goals

  1. All children return to school. The benefits of going to school extend beyond learning. Children also receive nutritious meals, vaccinations and psychosocial support, factors that are critical to a child’s well-being. In a remote learning environment, children lose these benefits, in addition to falling behind their expected learning curves. Mission: Recovering Education aims to reunite children across the globe with critical resources by focusing on two targets. The two targets involve bringing school enrollment back to pre-COVID-19 levels and ensuring that schools provide services to catch up on learning and well-being losses.
  2. Recovering learning loss. The pandemic may have caused children to fall behind their age-appropriate learning curves. Many learners may no longer be ready for a curriculum that they would have been ready for had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions. Remedial learning will help students to bridge the gap. It is important for remedial learning to be seen as essential and not just a luxury. Additionally, social-emotional learning also needs to be incorporated into classroom settings as bouncing back from setbacks can be challenging for children. Furthermore, digital technology is suggested for teaching basic literacy and math skills.
  3. Preparing and empowering teachers. Mission: Recovering Education recognizes the vital role teachers play in the global education system. Without healthy and well-trained teachers, students will be unable to recover the many months of learning opportunities they lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recovering the lost months of learning is essential to reducing global poverty rates. Teachers should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations and must receive support for implementing remedial education, incorporating social-emotional learning and transitioning to remote learning.

Looking Ahead

According to the GPE, education increases earnings by roughly 10% per year of further learning, supporting the fact that education reduces poverty. Mission: Recovering Education will incorporate monitoring tools to assess progress on its three primary goals. In doing so, the organization will help children globally recover as much lost education time as possible. This, in turn, will ensure that the global education system continues to lift children out of poverty.

Thomas McCall
Photo: Flickr

Brightlife Brings Financial Inclusion
BrightLife is a program from FINCA, the microfinance organization. The program is a Uganda-based, social enterprise that pairs access to finance with access to energy. This allows for connections to financial inclusion for the “unbanked.” BrightLife brings financial inclusion to Ugandans and clean energy products to poor and impoverished areas through multiple initiatives and products. BrightLife ensures financial inclusion and wellbeing for those areas. People pay for their BrightLife products with a system called PAYGO. This allows people to pay for only the electricity they use as they go. This then allows BrightLife to build credit profiles for “unbanked” people and connect them with FINCA.

The Situation in Uganda

There are currently 1 billion people in the world living without electricity and 73% of the Ugandan population does not have access to electricity. People living without electricity must often use insufficient fuels to heat, light and energize their homes. This can then lead to indoor air pollution causing premature death. These energy uses are also dangerous in homes since they can cause fires.

Lack of energy in any area can cause a cycle of poverty since so many people cannot access the most basic necessities. This is why BrightLife brings financial inclusion to Ugandans. As FINCA states, the program “provides last-mile distribution and end-user financing for products that create healthier and safer homes, increase productivity, reduce household expenses and provide additional income-generating opportunities.”

BrightLife’s Impact

To date, BrightLife has impacted over 202,000 lives with clean energy. By providing education, distribution, financing and after-sale support, BrightLife is able to bring clean energy products like home appliances to people who cannot acquire them. However, access to energy is just the first step in FINCA’s BrightLife enterprise.

BrightLife announced a new product called “Prosper” in March 2019 to further its impact on the Ugandan people. Prosper is an initiative that helps Ugandans access the clean energy that BrightLife provides. Then, Prosper helps people transition from unbanked to FINCA Uganda where they can access savings and credit opportunities, increasing their financial inclusion.

A Better Tomorrow with BrightLife

Now, BrightLife is working to better understand the solar energy needs of their clients and is positioning itself to serve communities more efficiently. Through COVID-19, it has been able to grant access to solar lanterns and give students the ability to still get the education they need from home. Since BrightLife brings financial inclusion to Ugandans, it also won the Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund grant. As USAID reported, this grant will allow for the development of “a solar-powered hatchery” and small-scale solar systems used for poultry farming in Kiryandongo, Uganda.

– Grace Aprahamian
Photo: Flickr

Greek teachers are making a differenceIn Greece, the debt crisis and political breakdown have triggered inequalities throughout the education system. While education is free, public schools have suffered from budget cuts due to bailout agreements. The result has been a decline in the quality of education. The aftermath of the social crisis in Europe has also led to educational poverty and students failing to achieve minimum education standards. Many students with only basic education often face poverty or unemployment. This is exemplary of the strong correlation between educational attainment and social outcomes. Greek teachers are making a difference in the way their country approaches education to combat this issue.

The Current Situation in Greece

Currently, the level of teaching in Greek schools is being criticized due to the lack of teacher evaluation standards and teaching structures. As a result, more Greeks fear obtaining adequate education in public schools to prepare for higher education. The Panhellenic exams required for university admission in Greece have caused an increase in Greeks pursuing more expensive private education classes. However, with the rise in unemployment rates and a decrease in salaries, poor and middle-class families are unable to pursue private education. In 2015, according to the World Economic Forum Inclusive Growth Development Report, Greece was ranked last of 30 economies due to the relationship between student performance and parent income.

The Varkey Foundation

Greek educators are identifying ways to leverage education through creative curriculum approaches. The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Award recognizes Greek teachers making a difference through their work across the globe. These teachers work with students to promote inclusivity and integration of migrants in the classroom. Additionally, these educators advocate for child rights and focus on the well-being of the student.

One recipient, Andria Zafirakou, received the Varkey Foundation 1M Global Teacher Prize in 2018. Her commitment to education has led to new initiatives to encourage creativity in schools. Born to Greek-Cypriot parents, Zafirakou has dedicated her entire teaching career to educating students from ethnically diverse communities. She has a passion for education advocacy and changing the lives of young people from underprivileged communities through creativity and art. Following that creative drive has led to her great success as the best teacher in the world.

Artists in Residence

In an amazing act of charity, Andria Zafirakou used her 2018 prize winnings to found Artists in Residence (AIR). She recognized the decline in the number of students demonstrating an interest in art and students pursuing careers in art. As such, the charity focuses on individual student well-being and outcomes in school by providing a curriculum encompassing art education.

AIR strives to increase student aspirations, provide inspirational life opportunities, and prepare students for jobs in creative industries. The program develops a rounded curriculum that supports social and cognitive learning through engagement in art activities. Firstly, it establishes partnerships with schools in developing academic and holistic educational programs. Then, artists and professionals in the creative sector provide their expertise to students by inspiring learning in art.

This collaborative approach exposes students to new skills and opportunities in art, which are truly key to a well-rounded education. Moreover, AIR has been effective in enhancing public awareness and engagement in developing programs to support art education.

Lack of proper education in Greece has proven to be hazardous to societal functions. Nevertheless, through collaborative efforts in educational reform and the people of Greece’s commitment to education, Greece’s educational system is expected to see improvements. However, teachers are indispensable in addressing these issues. Greek teachers make a crucial difference by discovering innovative ways to implement change within the education system one school at a time.

Brandi Hale
Photo: Flickr

Native American reservationsLow qualities of life exist in developing countries as well as developed countries, including the United States. Within the 326 Native American reservations in the U.S., Indigenous peoples experience unequal life conditions. Those on reservations face discrimination, violence, poverty and inadequate education.

Here are 5 facts about the Native American population and reservations.

1. Native Americans are the poorest ethnic group in the United States.

According to a study done by Northwestern University, one-third of Native Americans live in poverty. The population has a median income of $23,000 per year, and 20% of households make under $5,000 a year.

Due to the oppression of Indigenous peoples, reservations cannot provide adequate economic opportunity. As a result, a majority of adults are unemployed. Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota has better numbers than most reservations — 43.2% of the population is under the poverty line. However, this rate still is nearly three times the national average

2. Native Americans have the highest risk for health complications.

Across the board, Native American health is disproportionately worse than other racial groups in the United States. This population is 177%  more likely to die of diabetes, 500% more likely to die from tuberculosis and have a 60% higher infant mortality rate when compared to Caucasians.

Most Native American reservations rely on the Indian Health Service. It is a severely underfunded federal program that can only provide for approximately 60% of the needs of the insured. That does not account for a majority of those on the reservations. Only about 36% of Native Americans have private health care, and one-third of the non-elderly remain uninsured.

3. Native Americans, especially women, are frequently victims of violence.

A study from the National Institute of Justice concluded nearly 84% of American Indian and Native Alaskan women have experienced violence in their lifetimes. These women more likely to be victim to interracial perpetrators and are significantly more likely to suffer at the hands of intimate partners. The numbers are similarly high for men of this population. Over 80% of men admit to experiencing violence in their lifetimes. Most victims report feeling the need to reach out to legal services, but many severely lack the tools to get the help they need.

A few law practicing organizations have dedicated their existence to ensure Native American voices are heard in the legal world. Native American Rights Fund (NARF), for example, is a non-profit organization that uses legal action to ensure the rights of Native Americans are being upheld. Since their inception in 1970, NARF has helped tens of thousands of Native Americans from over 250 tribes all over the country.

4. Native students hold the highest national dropout rate.

Conditions on reservations leave schools severely underfunded, and many children are unable to attend. This delay in education leaves early childhood skills undeveloped. According to Native Hope, “Simple skills that many five-year-olds possess like holding a crayon, looking at a book and counting to 10 have not been developed.” Inadequate education is highly reflective of Native American graduation rates. Native students have a 30% dropout rate before graduating high school, which is twice the rate of the national average. This number is worse in universities — 75% to 93% of Native American students drop out before completing their degrees.

Such disparity between Native American students and their colleagues has inspired the increase in scholarships for this community. Colorado University of Boulder, for example, offers a multitude of scholarships and campus tours specifically for those of Indigenous descent. Further, they founded the CU Upward Bound Program which is dedicated to inspiring and encouraging the success of their Native American students. Third party scholarships also come from a multitude of organizations such as the Native American College Fund and the Point Foundation.

5. Quality of Life on Reservations is Extremely Poor.

Federal programs dedicated to housing on Native Americans reservations are severely inadequate. Waiting lists for spaces are years long, and such a wait doesn’t guarantee adequate housing. Often, three generations of a single family live in one cramped dwelling space. The packed households frequently take in tribe members in need as well.  Additionally, most residences lack adequate plumbing, cooking facilities, and air conditioning. The state of these Native American reservations is receiving increased attention.

Some reservations are taking matters into their own hands. Native Hope is a volunteer-based organization working to address the injustices brought upon the Native American community. Their commitment to the tribes has not stopped during the pandemic. One woman from Illinois handmade over 2,500 face masks so Indigenous children could still go to school in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. The organization also provided 33 households with necessary groceries and personal hygiene supplies.

How to Help

The marginalization of the Native American population has recently gained traction through the internet and social media. New and established charities alike are getting more attention, which allows them to have increased beneficial impacts on the Native American population.

Native American tribes have been around for hundreds of years and only recently have been getting the help and attention they require. With continued attention and advocacy, Native Americans can one day receive the justice and equality they deserve.

Amanda J Godfrey
Photo: Flickr

young advocates

Today, some of the most innovative, forward-thinking change-makers happen to be under the age of 18. Keep reading to learn more about these three top young advocates who are doing their part to address global issues from poverty to gender equality and education.

3 Young Advocates Who are Changing the World

  1. Zuriel Oduwole
    Since the age of 10, Zuriel Oduwole has been using her voice to spread awareness about the importance of educating young girls in developing countries. Now 17 years old, Oduwole has made a difference in girls’ education and gender issues in Africa by meeting with and interviewing important political figures like presidents, prime ministers and first ladies. To date, Oduwole has spoken in 14 countries to address the importance of educating young girls in developing countries, including Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Nigeria. “They need an education so they can have good jobs when they get older,” Oduwole said in a 2013 interview with Forbes. “Especially the girl child. I am really hoping that with the interviews I do with presidents, they would see that an African girl child like me is doing things that girls in their countries can do also.”
  2. Yash Gupta
    After breaking his glasses as a high school freshman, Yash Gupta realized how much seeing affects education. He did some research and found out that millions of children do not have access to prescription lenses that would help them to excel in their studies. Gupta then founded Sight Learning, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes eyeglasses to children in Mexico, Honduras, Haiti and India.

  3. Amika George
    At the age of 18, Amika George led a protest outside of former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s home to convince policymakers to end “period poverty.” Period poverty is the unavailability of feminine sanitary products for girls who cannot afford them. Girls who can’t afford these products are often left to use rags or wads of tissue, which not only raises health concerns but also keeps girls from their education. In order to combat this issue, George created a petition with the goal for schools to provide feminine products to girls who receive a free or reduced lunch. As of now, George has mobilized over 200,000 signatures and helped catapult the conversation of period poverty at the political level in the U.K.

These three world-changing children prove that age does not matter when it comes to making a difference in the world.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Education in Rwanda
Rwanda has come far from its genocidal war that split the country apart decades ago. The country has taken a step away from this bloody past and is looking towards the future by improving its education system. Rwanda still has massive hurdles like the transition from traditional learning ideas to the implementation of modern and more progressive ideas involving technology and curriculum. This article will go over exactly what Rwanda has done through 6 facts about education in Rwanda.

6 Facts about Education in Rwanda

  1. Three Main Languages: Schools teach three main languages in Rwanda. The national language is Kinyarwanda and educators teach it in primary school. English is another primary language for upper-level classes whilst French is mostly an elective that students can choose to take. Some schools in Rwanda, however, make it mandatory to learn both French and English. Certain schools are having difficulty prioritizing and shifting from teaching colonial French to teaching English within the country.
  2. Rwanda’s Education Budget: Rwanda has allocated more of its national budget towards its education system in recent years than before. Between 2012 and 2013, the country allocated only 17 percent of the national budget towards education, but it increased to 22 percent between 2017 and 2018. This country sees this increase as necessary since the current system currently overworks many teachers who have to pull double shifts to cover all of the required curricula.

  3. The Previous Education System: It is evident that the education system has come a long way since the early 1900s when the schooling system was informal. At that time, Rwandan families were in charge of education and children went to Amaterero schools where they learned about military matters, smithing, basketry and other practical skills that the nation required. Rwanda did this to prioritize education during wartime and conflict rather than fermenting an education during peace.

  4. Education Disparity and Civil War: Uneven education played a part in the civil war within Rwanda. Rwanda allowed the Tutsis to have some premium education between 1960 to 1990, leaving the Hutus to foot the bill. The Hutus also did not have nearly as much access to this education. This exploitation and inequality of education influenced the eruption of civil war between the two peoples.

  5. Tertiary Education: The highest level of education in Rwanda is the Tertiary education level with over 50,000 students within the country competing there. One of the most prestigious of these schools is the National University of Rwanda, which emerged in 1963 and is located in Butare. It is actually a conglomerate of several facilities that make up one single university where educators encourage students to specialize in many different curriculums

  6. Online Education: Rwanda is modernizing its education system by allowing students to take tests online, using TOEFL program. The Department of ICT also oversees E-testing to make sure that students have access to this online testing as a whole. This technology and information are run jointly with the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA). This program makes it so that the ICT technology receives proper advertisement and the schools put it to proper use.

Despite having a bloody history, Rwanda is clearly taking steps to make sure that its education system can plant the seeds for the country’s future. The country is making sure that its education system is putting money to proper use to improve the learning of its younger populace, through the use of technology and the efficiency of its various leveled programs. This has all become clear to us through these 6 facts about education in Rwanda.

Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

Education in Bhutan
Nestled underneath the economic powerhouse of China, the Himalayan nation of Bhutan boasts a diverse population that works across the agricultural, industrial and service industries. The service industries command 22 percent of the labor force. Because of this multifaceted workforce, Bhutan’s unemployment rate mulled around 3.2 percent in both 2016 and 2017, while approximately one-eighth of the population lives below the global poverty line. Despite these impressive numbers, education in Bhutan is the one arena where the country suffers. The predominant issue is whether the nation can provide an adequate, consistent education.

The creation of school systems, both public and private, has a tremendous effect on poverty reduction. According to the Global Partnership for Education, approximately 420 million people would be out of poverty if sufficient secondary education were available to them.

Governmental Infrastructure and Plans

That said, the Bhutanese government has made substantial progress in increasing access to and improving education in Bhutan. Education starts with teachers and professors, and over the past year, Bhutan has seen a 4 percent drop in the number of teachers. In an effort to combat this stark drop and in an attempt to decrease unemployment among the young adult population, Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and his government decided to double the salaries of teachers who remain in the profession for 10 or more years, thus making teaching the highest-paid civil service profession in Bhutan. In addition to this pay-raise, Prime Minister Tshering stated that his government hopes to provide career advancement for teachers, which would, in turn, lead to vast educational improvements.

The increased salary occurs at the midway point of the country’s 10-year educational reform, which aims to improve quality of and access to education in Bhutan. The Bhutan Educational Blueprint is comprised of eight different shifts, all with this central goal in mind. A few of the core tenants of these shifts (and the blueprint in total) include:

  • Improving overall access to education in Bhutan (including secondary and tertiary education)
  • Establishing a more modern, well-rounded curriculum
  • Elevating student performance to international standards
  • Making teaching a more desirable vocation
  • Maintaining the standards of high-performing schools and teachers once met

The Implementation of the Plans

Furthermore, the Bhutan government plans to dole these eight shifts out slowly over the course of three distinct waves, lasting years. The first wave, which ended in 2017, focused primarily on laying the groundwork and preparing the nation for extensive educational overhauls. The second wave, which will end in 2020, is concerned with building upon what Bhutan has established – improving access to tertiary education, rolling out new curricula and implementing new educational pathways. The third and final wave will turn to fortifying the newly established systems, guaranteeing quality education in Bhutan.

Combining this educational blueprint with increased teacher salaries is an incredible first step in improving education in Bhutan. Furthermore, these raises should help guarantee an all-important component of education: trained professionals prepared to teach the next generation of professionals, innovators and leaders in order to hopefully reduce poverty and unemployment rates even further.

– Colin Petersdorf
Photo: Flickr

8 Facts About Education in Tokelau
Over the past half-century, the island of Tokelau has struggled with sustainable education due to its remote location. However, in recent years, its educational system has experienced tremendous growth and the government is overseeing its continued improvement. Listed below are 8 facts about education in Tokelau and their implications.

8 Facts About Education in Tokelau

  1. The island is divided into three atolls. According to the 2016 census, Tokelau has a total population of 1,499 people, which is fairly evenly distributed amongst the three atolls. There is one school in each atoll for a total of three schools on the island. Each encompasses primary, secondary and post-secondary levels of education from ECE to year 13. The total student population across the three schools is just over 400.
  2. The official language of study is Tokelaun but students must also learn English as a foreign language. From year three, schools introduce English into the curriculum for 20 percent of the school time; at year four, schools increase English to 30 percent of the time; year five to 40 percent; and year six to 50 percent. From year six to year 11, the curriculum consists of the preparation, teaching and assessment of students at 50 percent English and 50 percent Tokelauan. Around 45 percent of Tokelauns aged 15 years or over reported having good or very good English reading skills, whereas only nine percent of Tokelauans aged 75 or above reported this, indicating an increase in bilingualism among residents through the years.

  3. The village councils or the Taupalegas run the schools. In 2010, the average student-teacher ratio was about 17 to one. The Education Department oversees the development of schools, training of teachers and scheduling of the annual National Scholarship Examination. The examination decides which students are eligible for the Tokelau Scholarship Scheme. The government developed this program to grant scholarships to the top 10 performing students so they could pursue higher education abroad. The scholarships require the recipients to return to Tokelau upon completion of their studies abroad so that they may apply their skills toward the country’s development.

  4. Up until 2008, schools did not offer senior secondary education Tokelau. Students who wished to pursue education beyond year 11 had to study abroad. A primary goal of the Education Department was to implement year 12 and year 13 learning programs on the island. Tokelau achieved this in 2008 through the Senior Secondary Education Programme which established year 12 in each school and then year 13 in each school in 2009. This has resulted in an increasing number of students eligible and with the necessary prerequisites to access undergraduate tertiary studies.

  5. According to UNESCO, the educational system faces many challenges due to the island’s isolated nature, rendering transport and telecommunication services unreliable. Consequently, there has been poor school leadership and a shortage of qualified/certified teaching staff. A majority of the teaching staff are women with family responsibilities and the expense and inconvenience of travel make attending off-atoll training services difficult.

  6. From 2000 to 2010, the government of Tokelau has worked with the Volunteer Service Abroad Program (VSA) to combat challenges of the educational system. VSA sent 26 New Zealand volunteers undertaking 28 assignments. Volunteers on each atoll trained and recruited volunteer teachers for specifically requested subjects that local teachers lacked the teaching qualifications and experience to provide. There was strong evidence that suggested that the government built and strengthened the capacity of the schools. However, a number of factors including the structure and governance of the Tokelau Education system, uncertain leadership and unmotivated staff inhibited this.

  7. In 2011, the Department of Education implemented reforms to address the issue of poorly qualified personnel, implementing regular Principal Professional Development to improve school leadership and on-atoll pre-service teacher DFL training courses for the teaching staff. The Government currently funds up to four pre-service teacher trainees for each village enrolled through a DFL University of the South Pacific undergraduate program. Tokelau aims to have 80 percent of all primary school teachers with relevant qualifications. Effective school leadership through good management and governance structures and processes has also improved student achievement.

  8. In 2011, males were more likely to have completed secondary school than females, but in 2016, this gender gap had decreased from five percent down to less than two percent. One can attribute the decrease in gender disparity to the growing role of the women’s committee referred to in Tokelau as the Fatupaepae. The Fatupaepae is one of the three in community-based organizations (CBOs) that contribute to the well being of the community.

These 8 facts about education in Tokelau illustrate its tremendous progress in the past half-century. Education in Tokelau continues to progress, particularly as the Department of Education combats the island’s challenges of accessibility. These 8 facts about education in Tokelau show that the country is working to ensure that the educational needs of its residents are being fulfilled.

– Bradley Hu
Photo: Flickr

Coding in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is primarily an agricultural country, with more than 80 percent of its citizens living in rural areas. More than 108.4 million people call Ethiopia home, making it Africa’s second-largest nation in terms of population. However, other production areas have become major players in Ethiopia’s economy. As of 2017, Ethiopia had an estimated gross domestic product of $200.6 billion with the main product coming from other sources than agriculture.

Today, 1.2 million Ethiopians have access to fixed telephone lines, while 62.6 million own cell phones. The country broadcasts six public TV stations and 10 public radio shows nationally. 2016 data showed that over 15 million Ethiopians have internet access. While 15 percent of the population may not seem significant, it is a sharp increase in comparison to the mere one percent of the population with Internet access just two years prior.

Coding in Ethiopia: One Girl’s Success Story

Despite its technologically-limited environment, young tech-savvy Ethiopians are beginning to forge their own destiny and pave the way for further technological improvements. One such pioneer is teenager Betelhem Dessie. At only 19, Dessie has spent the last three years traveling Ethiopia and teaching more than 20,000 young people how to code and patenting a few new software programs along the way.

On her website, Dessie recounts some of the major milestones she’s achieved as it relates to coding in Ethiopia:

  • 2006 – she got her first computer
  • 2011- she presented her projects to government officials at age 11
  • 2013-she co-founded a company, EBAGD, whose goals were to modernize Ethiopia’s education sector by converting Ethiopian textbooks into audio and visual materials for the students.
  • 2014-Dessie started the “codeacademy” of Bahir Dar University and taught in the STEM center at the university.

United States Collaboration

Her impressive accomplishments continue today. More recently, Dessie has teamed up with the “Girls Can Code” initiative—a U.S. Embassy implemented a project that focuses on encouraging girls to study STEM. According to Dessie, “Girls Can Code” will “empower and inspire young girls to increase their performance and pursue STEM education.”

In 2016, Dessie helped train 40 girls from public and governmental schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia how to code over the course of nine months. During those nine months, Dessie helped her students develop a number of programs and projects. One major project was a website where students can, according to Dessie, “practice the previous National examinations like SAT prep sites would do.” This allows students to take practice tests “anywhere, anytime.” In 2018, UNESCO expanded a similar project by the same name to include all 10 regions in Ghana, helping to make technology accessible to more Africans than ever before.

With the continuation of programs like “Girls Can Code” and the ambition of young coders everywhere, access to technology will give girls opportunities to participate in STEM, thereby closing the technology gender gap in developing countries. Increased STEM participation will only serve to aid struggling nations in becoming globally competitive by boosting their education systems and helping them become more connected to the world in the 21st century.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr