Information and stories on education.

Education for internally displaced childrenViolence or conflict internally displaces approximately 17 million children worldwide. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are those who have been forced to leave their homes but remain within the borders of their country of origin. A majority of IDPs live in urban areas, where they often lack access to basic services, including health care, housing and education. Ensuring access to education for internally displaced children is essential to improving livelihoods and fostering social cohesion.

Initiatives in Nigeria and Kenya represent important steps toward ensuring education for all internally displaced children in those countries.

Barriers to Education

For internally displaced children, schools are crucial to integrating into their new host community and regaining some normalcy after fleeing violence. Unfortunately, a myriad of challenges prevents many of these children from being able to attend school. A lack of documentation, financial struggles, language barriers, physical distance from the nearest school and a lack of education facilities in the area could possibly prevent internally displaced children from pursuing their education.

Furthermore, child labor, child marriage and recruitment by armed forces and gangs are other significant barriers to education for internally displaced children. IDPs often experience severe poverty and, as a way to make more money, send their children to work within the informal sector, thereby preventing them from going to school.

Child marriage is seen as another way to help overcome poverty, as marrying into the host community can provide economic and social benefits. Child marriage is frequently forced onto internally displaced children, especially girls. For IDPs who choose to marry when they are young, becoming independent from their parents may be a motivating factor. Once married, children rarely begin or continue their education.

Additionally, internally displaced children tend to live in poor, crime-ridden districts. They are more likely to be recruited by local gangs or armed groups in these areas. In Colombia, armed groups seek out children because they are able to avoid heavy criminal sentences if caught.

Conflict also negatively impacts education infrastructure, hurting educational opportunities for internally displaced children. Displacement disproportionately affects girls, who face additional challenges. Girls are 2.5 times more likely to not attend school in countries experiencing conflict. Gender-based violence and harassment that occurs at school and on the route to and from education facilities keep many girls at home. The abduction and rape that has occurred in at least 18 countries, along with the bombing of girls’ schools, also encourages families to keep their daughters at home rather than sending them to school.

UNICEF Recommendations

UNICEF recommends several tactics to overcome these barriers to education for internally displaced children. The organization’s primary goal is to ensure humanitarian organizations and governments begin to see education as a greater priority for IDPs. Education is commonly seen as secondary to addressing violence. Unfortunately, when conflicts last for years and decades, waiting to invest in education can leave generations of internally displaced children without schooling.

Key recommendations include strengthening education systems, abolishing school fees to reduce financial constraints and adapting curricula to address prejudices and promote diversity and social cohesion.

Case Study: Kenya

A study conducted at a Kenya school in 2013 and 2014 provides valuable insight into the benefits of educating internally displaced children alongside local children. At the school studied, 71 percent of students were internally displaced. However, efforts were made to provide an inclusive education that strengthened community relationships.

The study found that many internally displaced children were initially apprehensive about being accepted by their new school community. This sometimes lasted, but usually dissipated after a few weeks as the children become comfortable with each other. One student, Jey, told an author from the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, “I like this school because pupils like me. I don’t have any enemies all of them help me.”

Furthermore, students at the school developed community-consciousness. Many were aware of social inequalities that existed in Kenya. Internally displaced children recognized the disadvantages they and their families faced and were motivated to complete school to improve their futures.

Overall, more schools like this one in Kenya are needed to help bridge gaps between host communities and IDPs. This will improve opportunities for internally displaced children.

Plan International: Nigeria

In Nigeria, Plan International is creating learning centers to provide education for internally displaced children. These centers are created in areas that lack educational infrastructure and seek to support IDPs.

Patim, one of the teachers at a learning center in Maiduguri, noted that many of the children she teaches have lost their parents and require a great deal of support. The learning centers are doing what they can but often lack adequate resources and staff. However, the work being done is still directly benefiting many children. Patim recognizes that many of her students would be working on the streets if it wasn’t for the learning center. Attending the center helps keep children safe during the day.

Moving Forward

More communities and nations need to adopt UNICEF’s recommendations to ensure the availability of education for internally displaced children. Hopefully, recent attention to this issue will spark significant change in more countries, improving the livelihoods of IDPs around the world.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Among Romanians in Albania
Albania, a country located east of the heel of Italy and bordering a chunk of the Adriatic Sea, receives millions of Euros each year. However, Albania invests next to nothing, if even that, in the ghettos where a majority of the Romani population live. The result is a continuous cycle of poverty among the Romani in Albania.

Estimates determine that Romani people migrated from Northern India to Eastern Europe in the 1400s. Upon arriving, Eastern Europeans discriminated against the Romani people due to their nomadic lifestyles. Romani people lived in tribes and worked as craftsmen. Being further developed when it came to technology, the Eastern Europeans used this to justify why they treated the Romani as “less than” or “untouchables.” In Albania, this treatment is still present today.

A Large Population

Although no one seems to have accurate data of how many Romani people live in Albania, the majority of sources seem to estimate somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000. Of this amount, 80 percent of the Romani in Albania have no job and live in extreme poverty. While this is a vast percentile, the Albanian government is still not fully addressing the issue of poverty among the Romani in Albania. For instance, the country’s social services such as welfare and economic aid make it difficult, sometimes impossible, for the Romani people to access them. Because most Romani people in Albania do not register at their local municipality, the government uses this to justify them as ineligible for the social services. However, the reason Romani in Albania do not register at their local municipality is due to the discrimination they face. This causes them to live on unclaimed land, move frequently and/or bear children at home rather than in a hospital.

Issues of Education

In Albania, 52 percent of the Romani population has no education. Of the other 48 percent who do attend school, 14 percent complete elementary school, three percent complete secondary school and four percent graduate from a college or university. Because of the lack of education, many Romani are not eligible to access employment which further contributes to their poverty.

Romani children tend to not attend school for the following reasons:

  1. They have to work to help their family survive because the average monthly income of Romani households is 68 Euros. The Romani people make less than half the monthly income of non-Romani households living in the same neighborhoods.
  2. Some schools refuse to register Romani children because they do not have birth certificates. This is despite the fact that it is the law in Albania to accept all Romani students into public schools whether they have a birth certificate or not.
  3. Romani parents choose to keep their kids home from school due to their claim that the teachers discriminate against their children because of their ethnicity.

Temporary Work

Because many Romani people in Albania are unable to find a stable source of income, they often resort to small, temporary jobs in different trades such as construction and agriculture, and most of these are low pay. While the government does provide economic aid to the unemployed, very few Romani benefit from this aid, and if they do, they do not receive it for as long as they need it. On top of all of this, Romani people are continuously denied their rights to adequate housing and lack of access to clean drinking water, and often experience ill-treatment from local police for no reason other than being of Romani descent.

The ERRC

In 1996, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) emerged out of recognition of the discrimination Romani people face in multiple countries including Albania. It uses two methods to establish equal rights and opportunities for all Romani people:

  1. Strategic Litigation: In order to eliminate the discrimination against Romani people that prevents them from moving out of poverty, the ERRC fights whoever is implementing these discriminatory acts in court. It is able to do so in both domestic and international courts.
  2. Advocacy and Research: The ERRC believes that one of the best things anyone can do in order to help prevent poverty among Romanians in Albania as well as in other countries is to get the word out. One requires awareness and education of the issue in order for change to be possible.

An ERRC Victory

The ERRC completed its latest project in Albania on December 12, 2018. Due to discrimination, Romani citizens of Fushe Kruje, a city in Albania that has been home to a Romanian community since 1990, were suffering from lack of clean drinking water. While numerous Romani organizations took action to prevent this for the past 20 years, next to nothing has changed. The ERRC stepped in and went to court to fight the local municipality in Fushe Kruje for refusing to address the community’s limited access to clean water. The ERRC won the case, and the court declared that the local municipality would have to fix this issue within 30 days or receive a fine.

The ERRC envisions a world in which Romani people and non-Romani people in Albania are able to work together to challenge the racism that exists. By doing so, poverty among the Romani in Albania will end, thus, allowing them to receive access to proper education, steady employment, and ultimately, better healthier lives.

Emily Turner
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Venezuelans Fleeing
As the beneficiary of the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela was once the wealthiest nation in Latin America. However, in 2014, the economy began to collapse. The Bolivar, its currency, has gone into free fall, leaving millions unable to afford even the most basic necessities. According to Bloomberg’s Café con leche index, a cup of coffee today costs the same as 1,800 cups in January 2018. As food and health care become more difficult to come by, many Venezuelans are faced with the decision of struggling to get by or fleeing the country.

Why Flee?

Every day, thousands of Venezuelans leave their country in search of safety and stability, many of them arriving in Colombia. The International Rescue Committee has been supporting families in need in Cúcuta, a border city, since April 2018.

Venezuela is millions in debt while the only commodity that the country relies on is oil. Unfortunately, the value of oil has plummeted. In 2014, the price of oil was about $100 a barrel. Then several countries started to pump too much oil as new drilling technology could dredge up what was previously inaccessible, but businesses globally were not buying more gasoline. Too much oil caused the global price to drop to $26 in 2016. Today the price hovers around $50, which means that Venezuela’s income has been cut in half.

At the same time, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s hostility towards foreign business has created a corporate exodus. Companies such as United, General Motors and Pepsi have left entirely and unemployment in Venezuela could reach 25 percent this year. To try and keep up, Maduro has raised the minimum wage three times in 2019 in order to provide a little short-term relief to the poor. Currently, the minimum wage is at 18,000 bolivars per month, which is around $6.70 U.S.

How Many Venezuelans Have Left?

According to the U.N., more than three million people have already left Venezuela since the crisis began, and that number is increasing at a rapid rate. Approximately one million people, several lacking official documentation, have gone to neighboring Colombia. However, Peru is the second most popular destination country for Venezuelan refugees, with over 500,000. Ecuador follows, with over 220,000, Argentina with over 130,000, Chile with over 100,000 and Brazil with 85,000 immigrants.

By the end of 2019, the number of Venezuelans fleeing the country should reach 5.3 million. Nearly 300,000 children have fled the homes and lives they once knew, and approximately 10 percent of the country’s total population has already left.

The Way Out

The majority of those fleeing Venezuela do so on foot, and the road begins close to Cúcuta. Many people pay smugglers to use a trocha, which is an illegal border crossing through a river. On the Colombian side of the border has become a huge open-air market for all the things that people cannot get in Venezuela anymore. Vendors advertise medicines and cigarettes, candy and phone minutes for people to call home.

Sadly, some do not make the journey on foot. In Cúcuta, the temperature can hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, on other parts of the route, the road climbs to 10,000 feet above sea level and temperature can drop below freezing. Walking this route takes approximately 32 days. The mountain pass, La Nevera, translates to the Refrigerator. Aid groups and residents have opened their homes and set up shelters along the path. However, the number of Venezuelans fleeing the country has surpassed the number of shelters available along the way, making space for only the lucky few.

The Impact

The emotional wellbeing of children who have fled Venezuela is of high concern. Sometimes traveling alone, boys and girls disrupt their education and are in great danger of falling behind in school and never catching up again. On the contrary, some parents leave their children behind when they leave the country. These children often gain material benefits from their parents’ migration, because sending hard currency to relatives provides greater access to food, medicine and other lacking necessities.

Furthermore, tensions between Venezuelans fleeing the country and citizens of other countries is often high. Colombia has had to reach out to the international community for help in dealing with the influx of migrants. Hospitals and elementary schools in Cúcuta have been overwhelmed, and administrators complain about the central government’s failure to reimburse them for the cost of caring for migrants. The national government has suspended the issuance of temporary visas, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has promised $30 million in assistance.

In Ecuador, anti-immigrant sentiments reached a highpoint when a Venezuelan allegedly stabbed to death his pregnant Ecuadorian girlfriend, Diana Ramirez Reyes, in front of police and scared residents of the city of Ibarra. Since then, President Lenin Moreno decreed a tougher immigration policy that requires incoming Venezuelans to present a document certifying they had a clean criminal record in Venezuela. However, such documents are costly to obtain in Venezuela.

Similarly, Peru and Chileans have developed hesitation toward Venezuelans fleeing the country. People cannot renew work permits in Peru and as of 2018, the country decided to stop issuing them. A recent survey in Chile found that many natives disapprove of the number of immigrants coming in. Seventy-five percent of those responding to the survey thought that the number of immigrants was excessive.

Who is Helping?

Since April 2018, the IRC has been working in Cúcuta supporting Venezuelans and vulnerable Colombians with specialized services for women and children, cash assistance and health care. Aid organizations and families are also working to help immigrants along the route. The Colombian Red Cross has a small aid station on the outskirts of Pamplona, a city in Colombia’s Norte de Santander region.

The U.S. government has also helped by providing about $200 million in humanitarian aid to address the crisis in the region. Most of this money has gone to Colombia as do the majority of Venezuelans fleeing the country.

UNICEF has appealed for $69.5 million to meet the needs of uprooted children from Venezuela and those living in host and transit communities across the LAC region. It is working with national and local governments, host communities and partners to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitation, protection, education and health services for Venezuelans fleeing the country.

– Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

 

EdTech in India
Education Technology, also known as EdTech, is a current driving force for major improvements to education in India. The information and communication technology placed in school systems throughout the country helps bring outside knowledge to classrooms that would have been previously inaccessible. Edtech has recently dropped in pricing, making the equipment and technology easily accessible in less developed areas and easier to implement in impoverished schools.

Four Key Facts About India’s Educational System

  1. India has one of the largest populations of school-age children, with an estimated 270 million children between the ages of 5 to 17.
  2. The country has four main levels for education: pre-primary from ages 3 to 6, primary from ages 6 to 10, secondary from ages 11 to 17 and tertiary from ages 18 to 22.
  3. Children must attend school from ages 6 to 13.
  4. School systems have seen a major increase in student enrollment in recent years, with a 15.37 percent increase of total gross enrollment in secondary education between 2009 and 2016.

While enrollment has increased, education in India is still behind with teaching methods and test scores. Many students test poorly in math and reading skills and teaching quality decreases in rural areas. In 2015, the mean achievement scores for math at a national level for rural areas was 247, while the urban score was 256. Urban areas also scored 19 points higher in English, with a mean score of 263. With less access to teachers and educational materials, the rural school systems face more deficits than urban areas.

Education technology is a relatively new concept for foreign countries, but the benefits to technology-infused classrooms are well known. Below are three benefits of increasing EdTech usage in Indian school systems.

Three Benefits of Increasing EdTech Usage in Indian Schools

  1. EdTech Bridges the Gap Between Rural and Urban Education: EdTech incorporates text, audio and video to teach and elaborate on classroom subjects. This technology fills in knowledge gaps when teachers are absent or less educated with certain materials. The language in these materials is also more streamlined, making topics easier to understand for a multitude of students. Video lessons make classes more consistent in all schools, eliminating the variation of teaching materials around the country. These programs also make student data more accessible to teachers, with some methods collecting and compiling data on student progress for teachers to be able to track progress and note areas that need improvement.
  2. EdTech Programs Emphasize Specialized and Individual Learning Plans: Education in India has previously been less effective at aiding students individually; through the implementation of EdTech, schools are better able to cater to students’ needs and adapt specific programs to better suit individual learning styles. Mindspark, an Indian based company that delves into education through videos, games and questions, is working to pique students’ interest in non-traditional ways. The software takes the basic values of comprehension for each student and adapts lesson plans to better fit their needs. The company recently worked with over 600 students in Delhi, citing increases in understanding of math and Hindi.
  3. EdTech Forms a Collaborative Space for Education: As more teachers begin to incorporate the newer technologies into the classroom, lesson plans will become more consistent in each region. Teachers will also be able to share effective teaching strategies using newer technology to benefit classrooms with less access to EdTech. This technology also makes information about students’ success more accessible to parents. Automated messaging to parents regarding progress can increase test scores for students overall.

While Edtech is benefitting education in India, foreign investments heavily fund the current ventures. Further development into education technology would require extensive partnership with the government, but some are taking steps to bring more technology into Indian classrooms. Prices for tablets and computers have decreased in recent years, making these educational programs more accessible to the multitudes. Many state-run schools have some access to these newer programs, and India is making more strides towards providing EdTech for students in all regions.

– Kristen Bastin
Photo: Flickr

Startup Hub Caribbean
Facebook has partnered with Parallel18, an accelerator for startup companies that is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, to provide support for 10 startups in the Caribbean. The program is called Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean and it is a 12-week program that started in May 2019. This program can tremendously benefit these technology startup companies and the communities that they work in.

The 10 companies selected are from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and the partnership chose all of them because they provide a product or service that focuses on goals that better their communities. These include gender equality and employment opportunities. These companies will be able to grow and expand into other markets under the support of Facebook and Parallel 18 through their free services and mentorships.

Possible Benefits

The unemployment rates in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are currently 7.7 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent. Although these numbers do not appear high, it comes to a total of about 785,000 people that are unemployed. Although providing support to these 10 companies will not completely fix the unemployment rate in these countries, they should be able to grow and provide jobs to their communities with enough support from Facebook and Parallel18.

Agrobeads

Other than creating jobs for various communities, these start-up companies are providing real change and solutions. From Puerto Rico, Agrobeads is one of the 10 companies that Facebook has chosen to help. It provides capsules with water and nutrients to farmers in areas that are susceptible to droughts. According to Agrobeads, the capsules allow for the watering of crops and plants every two weeks instead of daily. Facebook’s support of Agrobeads will allow communities in the Caribbean to have greater access to locally grown foods and a more stable income for farmers.

Edupass

A company focused on providing assistance to those who are underprivileged, Edupass originally formed in 2014. It provides information and assistance to those in the Dominican Republic going through the admission process to university or college. Education is the key to growing a strong workforce and with the support from Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Edupass will be able to provide assistance through its admissions experts. These experts will be able to guide students through the application process, help transition students into life at college and provide students with tutoring and the opportunities for internships.

Hacker Hostel

From Jamaica, Hacker Hostel is a company started by Akua Walters that trains and markets Caribbean developers for remote jobs in North American countries. Walters created the company because he saw that talented JavaScript developers were leaving the Caribbean to pursue jobs in developed countries. This was a major problem because the people who were leaving to obtain jobs in developed countries could potentially provide solutions to help with problems in developing nations. Now with the support of Facebook and Parallel18, Hacker Hostel can help better train and prepare software developers to work for North American companies remotely.

Looking Forward

With the creation of Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Facebook and Parallel18 are able to provide assistance to young companies that have created solutions for communities around the Caribbean. Although these companies focus and work to benefit their own communities, they could potentially expand to areas outside the Caribbean with the tools, workshops and mentorships from Facebook.

Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in LichtensteinLiechtenstein is a little-known principality located between Austria and Switzerland. Despite its small size (roughly 38, 000 inhabitants) it has a growing economy, which allows for residents to have a high standard of living. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Liechtenstein.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Liechtenstein

  1. Liechtenstein provides its workers with some of the highest wages in Europe – Because of the growing economy, citizens of Liechtenstein benefit from one of the highest wage levels across Europe. On average, citizens make about $92,000 annually. When compared to the average gross salary of Germany’s citizens, Liechtenstein’s citizens have a higher income by about $15,000.
  2. Living costs are high – While the country has high wage levels, it also has high living expenses. The average citizen spends about half their monthly income on their fixed costs, which usually include housing, utilities, transportation and health insurance. Despite the high living costs, Liechtenstein has a zero percent poverty rate with poverty being defined as those living at or below $5.50/day.
  3. The country offers universal health care – Health insurance is required and guaranteed to all people living or working in Liechtenstein. Individuals’ insurance is financed by their insurance holder and their employer as well as by state subsidies. Although there is no current data with regards to the increase in healthcare costs over time in Liechtenstein, in 2016, the government spent $188 million on social welfare programs such as healthcare.
  4. The government provides its residents with a high-quality education – Liechtenstein relies on its excellent education system to provide the economy with highly qualified workers. After completing the mandatory schooling period of 11 years (from primary school to high school), individuals are left with a range of options to pursue further education. These options include vocational training, higher education (college or university), and apprenticeships.
  5. A high percentage of Liechtenstein labor force commutes into work – The Feldkirch-Buchs railway connects Switzerland to Austria, passing through Liechtenstein on the way. This railway allows workers to commute into Liechtenstein. Since a majority of the country’s workers, (55 percent) are from neighboring countries, this system is crucial in maintaining Liechtenstein’s labor force. The reason behind the high number of commuters is because Liechtenstein’s economy has grown so quickly over the past years that its domestic labor force has not been able to keep up.
  6. Liechtenstein has a strong economy – Liechtenstein has one of the highest measures of GDP per capita in the world ($168,146.02) and a low inflation rate of 0.5 percent. Although not officially recognized by the European Union, it does receive some of the monetary and economic benefits of the organization because of its deal with Switzerland, which stipulates that they import a large percentage of their energy requirements from the Swiss and use the Swiss Franc as their national currency.
  7. Residents have religious freedom – Although an overwhelming majority of the population is Roman Catholic (the official state religion), there remain many individuals in the country who practice other religions or other forms of Christianity. The state is currently in the process of separating itself from the church, however, this is largely considered a symbolic move, as the current union does not appear to affect adherents of other religions. The government is pursuing this initiative by creating a provisional constitutional amendment to establish new regulations between the state and the religious communities. Additionally, there has been mention of providing more equitable funding for all the different religious organizations, rather than solely giving the Catholic church more funding.
  8. The country provides immigrants with good living conditions – Immigrants make up about 65 percent of the total population in Liechtenstein.  Many of these immigrants come from nearby countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Although the requirements for the naturalization process are quite lengthy, (an individual has to live in Liechtenstein for 30 years before beginning the process) immigrants receive all the same benefits that natural-born citizens receive.
  9. Liechtenstein has low unemployment – Liechtenstein has an unemployment rate of 1.9 percent. Most of its labor force is employed in the services and goods sectors, with only 0.6 percent being employed in the agriculture sector. About 40 percent of the workforce is employed in the industrial sector, which, combined with the manufacturing sector, make up about 40 percent of the country’s gross value added. Its economy is focused primarily on high-quality exports, services and goods such as machine and plant construction, as well as precision tools and dental instruments, among other items.
  10. Liechtenstein has had issues with spreadable diseases in the past – Some of the most common diseases include influenza, hepatitis B and tick-borne encephalitis. The country has since introduced several initiatives to address these issues, signing treaties with Switzerland and Austria in order to provide its citizens with better healthcare options.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Liechtenstein demonstrate the quality of life with which residents of Liechtenstein experience on a daily basis. While the country certainly has some very positive trends going for it (namely, unemployment, wages, GDP, and its education system) it also has some things to improve upon, such as reducing living costs, which make it hard for many individuals to live in the country. Nevertheless, Liechtenstein appears to be in a good state presently, as it provides many services and freedoms that make it a desirable place to live.

– Laura Rogers
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

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Germany
Germany is a developed country that offers decent living conditions for its citizens. The average life expectancy is 81 years, which aligns with Europe’s average life expectancy. While there are numerous factors that play a role in determining life expectancy, Germany makes a tremendous effort to manipulate these factors and extend the average. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Germany

  1. Education and Skills: When examining the 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany, it is important to consider schooling. To benefit its citizens, Germany features a highly respected dual-apprenticeship system in its high schools. Students receive both general and occupation-specific education, indirectly improving job quality and earning potential. Eighty-seven percent of German adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have completed upper-secondary education, which is well above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) determined 78 percent average.
  2. Jobs and Earnings: Job security and salaries often determine the living conditions of families, making it an important factor in determining life expectancy. Seventy-five percent of Germans between the ages of 15 and 64 have a paid job. Only 1.6 percent of Germany’s labor force do not have employment, which is less than the OECD’s average of 1.8 percent. The government recognizes the importance of income and takes a stand by protecting its labor force. In 2015, Germany established a statutory minimum wage. Collective bargaining has diminished, allowing financial-security for low-income workers.
  3. Environment: The German government has made a public effort to make public transportation more efficient by investing in cleaner trains and hybrid buses in order to reduce emissions. The government has also acted to modify heating units such as wood-burning stoves. In 2010, Germany mandated the refitting of these units with particulate filters by 2024 if emissions do not reduce by then.
  4. Social Connection: While it seems odd to include social connections in a list of 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany, people’s social network plays a large role in guiding their life. In Germany, the FAMILIENwerkSTADT project aids migrant families by easing them through the process of assimilation. In this program, childcare facilities focus on providing children with better access to education. Immigrant families are less isolated through such programs. Ninety percent of Germans are confident that they know someone outside of immediate family that they can count on in bad times, similar to the OECD average of 89 percent.
  5. Health Status: Germany has a life expectancy of 81 percent, slightly above the OECD average of 80 percent. The government is able to provide equal health care for all of its citizens by recognizing those with disabilities. Any workers with health issues have the right to receive aid from their employers such as a modified workplace, special help and part-time opportunities. Germany has spent a GDP of nearly 0.3 percent on disabled people, which is much higher than in other OECD countries.
  6. Work-Life Balance: The government encourages flexible schedules because of the importance of family commitments. In 2015, Germany instituted the Erfolgsfaktor Familie (Family as a Success Factor) to achieve work-life balance. This program advocated for flexi-time for all employees as well as more affordable childcare. Later that same year, Germany established a parental reform in which parents receive money for taking more time off. Currently, full-time Germans are able to spend 65 percent of their day (15.6 hours) for personal care, compared to the OECD average of 15 percent.
  7. Civic Engagement: When people are more satisfied, their life expectancy increases. The German government has a “strong youth policy infrastructure,” in which it gives younger generations higher importance. This means to allow people to feel involved in their community and be much happier. In recent German elections, estimates determined voter turnout as 76 percent, which was much higher than the OECD average of 68 percent.
  8. Housing: Clean and safe living conditions determine whether people can have healthy lives. German households have an average of 1.8 people per room, which is in line with the OECD standard. The government launched a program to expand housing in 1993 and it modified 1.1 million units. In fact, 99.8 percent of every household unit in Germany has access to a private indoor flushing toilet.
  9. Personal Security: Another factor that determines life expectancy is personal security. While organized crime was a major hazard in the streets of Germany, the police have conducted a major crackdown on Middle Eastern crime families. Before the police crackdown occurred, “The streets are [were] actually regarded as a separate territory. Outsiders are [were] physically assaulted, robbed and harassed.” The homicide rate in Germany is at 0.5, whereas the average of the OECD 3.7.
  10. Cardiovascular Disease: As the leading cause of death in Germany, cardiovascular disease takes a large toll on the population. In fact, cardiovascular disease caused 92 percent of deaths in 2018 for people 65 and older. In order to draw attention to current research, the government gave the German Heart Center of the State of Bavaria membership in the German Center for Cardiovascular Research. The German Heart Center of the State of Bavaria is the leading center in Germany for therapeutic interventions and treatments. By giving the Center membership in the German Center for Cardiovascular Research, it will receive more funding and opportunities to continue its research.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany go well beyond a person’s living conditions, health, happiness or education. In fact, the German government has demonstrated its role in ensuring that people are living their lives to the fullest.

– Haarika Gurivireddygari
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon
A short distance from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador lies Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an overseas collectivity of France. Its remoteness and obscurity marks it as culturally, economically and demographically distinct from the rest of North America. Living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon compare well with much of the developed world in some respects, but not all. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon

  1. Economic Disputes Disrupted the Fishing Industry Fishing quota disputes with neighboring Canada have devastated the islands’ traditional economic reliance on the fishing industry. Moreover, in response to rampant overfishing, the International Arbitration Tribunal of New York’s prohibition on deep-sea cod fishing in 1992 ended centuries of this practice, contributing to the decline in living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
  2. The Service and Energy Sectors and Government Employment Supplanted Fishing – With the decline of the fishing industry, the service sector and government employment dominate the economy. As of 2010, the services sector comprised 86 percent of the islands’ GDP, while 2006 data indicates that (as of that year) agriculture constituted two percent of the GDP and industry comprised 15 percent. The construction of a thermal power plant in 2015 precipitated the expansion of the extractive industries and energy sector.
  3. Sex Ratios Differ Between Age Groups in this Aging Population – As of July 2018, the population of Saint Pierre and Miquelon stood at 5,471. At 41.44 percent of the total population, citizens 25 to 54 years old comprise the largest share of the population. Citizens 55 to 64 years old are 13.69 percent and citizens 65 years and older are 21 percent of the population. In younger age groups, the sex ratio skews in favor of males, a characteristic shared with citizens 55 to 64 years old but not with those 25 to 54 years old or 65 years and older.
  4. A Transforming Economy Impacts Unemployment Rates – Unemployment in the islands decreased from 9.9 percent of the labor force in 2008 to 8.7 percent of the labor force in 2015. The marginalization of the traditional fishing industry and the rise of the service sector and certain industries influence employment rates.
  5. Most Inhabitants are French-Speaking Catholic Basques and Bretons – As an overseas collectivity of the Republic of France, French is the official language of the islands. Most of the population descends from Basque and Breton fishermen. An estimated 99 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic.
  6. With Little Arable Land, the Population is Overwhelmingly Urban – As of 2018, 90.2 percent of the population resided in urban centers, mostly concentrated on Saint Pierre Island. Agriculture constituted two percent of the GDP as of 2006, although it employs as much as 18 percent of the labor force. As of 2011, only 8.7 percent of the land qualified as arable.
  7. Fertility is Low, While Life Expectancy is High – Estimates in 2018 indicated that total life expectancy was 80.7 years, 78.4 years for men and 83.2 years for women. Infant mortality lies at 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, 7.4 per 1,000 for male births and 5.3 per 1,000 for female births. However, the fertility rate is low, averaging at 1.57 children born per woman as of 2018.
  8. The Health Care System Functions Well – Saint-Pierre and Miquelon boasts a universal health care system. Until 2015, pursuant to an agreement between France and Canada, islanders could seek medical treatment in St. John’s, the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Starting in 2015, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon began probing for an alternative to this prior arrangement as a result of increasing costs.
  9. The Educational System Conforms to Metropolitan France – Saint Pierre and Miquelon provides mandatory and free education from the ages of six to 16. Primary education lasts five years and secondary education lasts up to seven years, following the French model. Secondary education consists of a four-year program followed by three further years of study and the bestowal of a baccalaureate degree.
  10. Citizens Directly Elect Representatives to a Local Autonomous Legislature – As an overseas collectivity of the French Republic, Saint Pierre and Miquelon governs itself through a unicameral territorial council elected by absolute majority vote. This legislative body consists of 19 seats, 15 from Saint Pierre and four from Miquelon. An electoral college vote guarantees representation in the French Senate by a single senator for five-year terms.

Though living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon are not intolerable, opportunities for improvement exist. The archipelago’s relative remoteness allows it to avoid the attention of outsiders, yet it has not escaped the forces of globalization, of which the economic and cultural consequences have been tremendous. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon ought to dispel any notion that this is an inconsequential territory.

– Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Flickr

The Importance of Secondary Education
Secondary education is an important segment in every person’s life. It also serves as a means to potentially empower girls, raise a person’s economic status and reduce infant mortality rates as these listed facts will show. Here are the 10 facts about the importance of secondary education.

10 Facts About the Importance of Secondary Education

  1. Child marriage would reduce by 64 percent if all girls received a secondary education. Moreover, early pregnancies would lower by 59 percent.
  2. There are more than 226 million children around the world who do not attend secondary school. If these children were all to go onto secondary education, then the under-five mortality rate would fall by 49 percent. According to Ann M. Veneman, the Executive Director of UNICEF, evidence shows that girls who receive an education are more likely to take better care of their families, and in turn, reduce infant mortality rates.
  3. A person’s earnings should increase by 10 percent on average for each year of school they attend. As a result, education may help boost economies and bring populations out of poverty.
  4. In 29 countries around the world, children must complete secondary school. Some developed and developing countries will even pay for children to attend secondary school.
  5. In just 40 years, a country could raise its Growth Domestic Product (GDP) per capita by 23 percent through equal access to education.
  6. The attendance of all children to school would require $39 billion in funding every year.
  7. Children often start to drop out of school after primary school. The decrease in enrollment is as much as 10 percent worldwide and 34 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  8. In the year 2012, reports stated that there were 168 million child labor workers between the ages of five and 17. This is one of the reasons a child might be unable to attend school.
  9. In most developing countries, public school is not free for children to attend, as they must purchase books, uniforms and other school supplies. Even factoring out the costs of going to school, 67 million children still do not receive the right to attend. As a result, millions of children do not obtain a proper education, making it difficult to find substantial forms of employment. One solution to this has been Child Empowerment International, an organization that works to provide education to children across the world by setting up day schools for children without access to education, such as in refugee camps.
  10. While girls are less likely to be able to attend school in the first place, boys are more likely to repeat grades or drop out of school altogether. This is due to various issues within their countries, such as restrictions on education for women or early marriage.

There are many issues regarding education and while there are many projects working to decrease these issues, the issue is still at large. There is a need for an international presence regarding the importance of secondary education, and education itself.

– Alex Cahill
Photo: Flickr