Information and stories on education.

facts about girls' education in RomaniaRomania is a country settled in east-central Europe bordering the Black Sea. The country has a rigid education program that falls short in some areas of girls’ education, particularly for Roma girls who come from a minority making up about 10 percent of Romania’s population. While improvements are being made to the overall education of the country, some pupils are more neglected than others. These six facts about girls’ education in Romania shed some light on the achievements and shortfalls of the Romanian education system and what is being done to further improve girls’ education.

6 Facts About Girls’ Education in Romania

  1. There are more girls in pre-primary schools than boys. As of 2016, 75.26 percent of Romanian girls were enrolled in pre-primary school—the equivalent of kindergarten—while only 74.52 percent of boys were enrolled.
  2. Female literacy rates are on the rise. In 1992, 94.98 percent of the Romanian female population older than 15 were literate. As of 2018, that percentage stood at 98.6.
  3. Half of the women in rural Romania don’t finish secondary school. Half of the female population living in rural areas of Romania don’t manage to finish secondary school according to Tatiana Proscuryakova, World Bank’s Country Manager for Romania and Hungary.
  4. Roma women often don’t have the same opportunities as other women in Romania. One of the largest minority groups in Romania is the Roma people. Roma girls are disproportionately impacted by poverty conditions and continue to face societal discrimination. On average, Roma girls leave school at age 10 so that they can contribute to the household in some way.
  5. Female unemployment rates are increasing. As of 2019, only 45.17 percent of Romanian women are part of the workforce. This number dropped from 62.31 percent in 1992 and is likely a direct result of the struggle among many women to complete a proper education. Without an education, many women find themselves without the skills necessary to make themselves a valuable member of the workforce.
  6. Save the Children is working to fix the gap in Roma girls’ education. The American nonprofit, known for its work in helping children around the world, launched a preparedness program in the summer of 2016 for children in Romania. The goal of this program is to help Roma children be better equipped for pre-primary school, both academically and socially.

Romania has an impressive literacy rate among both men and women but has seen a dramatic drop in the number of women in the workforce. Most Romanian women are able to receive an education, but Roma girls seem to be subject to a prejudiced struggle. While the number of girls in the workforce is declining, education is increasing and the hope of overall improvement of girls’ education and the consequent life opportunities is bright.

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Flickr

 

Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa with a population of nearly 114 million. While Ethiopia has a deep-rooted history as Africa’s oldest sub-Saharan state, it also has a long track record of devastating poverty. Financial instability has led many families to rely on their children for work, and this has put Ethiopia on the map for having one of the most catastrophic child labor problems in the world. To develop solutions to this persistent problem, it is important that people raise awareness. Here are the top 10 facts about child labor in Ethiopia.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia

  1. Child Labor Rate: According to USAID, nearly 27 percent of Ethiopia’s youth population participates in the labor force. Ethiopia is one of many African countries suffering from widespread child labor, with the African region accounting for the highest rate of child labor in the world. The Internal Labour Organization blames these high levels of child labor on continued economic and political turmoil.
  2. World Vision Ethiopia and Education Centers: Fortunately, child labor in Ethiopia has been steadily decreasing over the last two decades. A study found that the percentage of child labor in Ethiopia decreased by 25 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls between 2000 and 2013. World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) is one nongovernmental organization contributing to these declining numbers by promoting education instead of child labor. Beginning in 1971, WVE has established education centers in Ethiopia, trained teachers, supported school attendance, enrolled children in vocational services and supported families savings plans to lessen the financial burden on their children. According to a WVE report, The Ethiopians Fighting Against Childhood Exploitation Project began in 2011. This project, which includes WVE and two other NGOs, targets 20,000 Ethiopian children by promoting childhood education and creating better social protections for children in Ethiopia.
  3. Unstable Education: The instability of Ethiopia’s education system makes it one of the major causes of child labor. Despite compulsory primary education and government-subsidized schooling, widespread economic hardship has led to low attendance rates and a lack of resources. With no quality education to turn to, vulnerable children often resort to child labor to lend financial support to their families.
  4. Demographics in Child Labor: The demographic breakdown of child labor in Ethiopia shows the lowest rate for children ages 5-9, with 48 percent of them working in the labor force. This percentage jumps to 72 percent for children ages 10-14 and 75 percent for children ages 15-17. Despite the large percentage differences between age brackets, the difference between genders is only 3 percent.
  5. The Ethiopian Government’s Efforts: In 2018, Ethiopia’s government took further steps to mitigate child labor by working with international and non-governmental organizations to combat disparities in educational resources and government oversight. Programs focused on smuggling, sex-trafficking, forced labor and children’s rights are among the new government initiatives to curtail child labor. In the same year, the National Child Policy made it onto the national agenda, offering major reforms that would commit the government, “to sustain its commitment to respect, protect and fulfill children’s rights and enhance the family and community’s role in the healthy growth and personality development of children.” While the Ethiopian government has not signed this legislation into law, the movement behind the policy is quickly gaining traction with those committed to eliminating child labor.
  6. Child Trafficking: Child trafficking is a common practice in Ethiopia, responsible for forcing children into domestic and sex work. This practice, prominent in the Capital, Addis Ababa, has seen people sell 20,000 children into the trafficking industry despite laws that prohibit the practice. The lack of enforcement involving the investigation and prosecution of child-trafficking perpetrators is the primary reason that these abuses persist.
  7. The International Labour Organisation (ILO): In 2003, Ethiopia ratified a convention that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) proposed, a United Nations Agency that dedicates itself to prohibiting and eliminating the worst forms of child labor. The convention, which recognizes poverty and inadequate education as significant barriers to eliminating child labor, led Ethiopia to distribute textbooks and build primary schools. A report by the United States Department of Labor describes Ethiopia’s progress as a “moderate advancement,” noting that, while there are still steps that Ethiopia needs to take, this is the beginning of a necessary solution.
  8. Types of Labor: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, cattle, gold and hand-woven textiles are among the most common goods that child labor in Ethiopia produces. The children participating in manufacturing textiles and gold are most prominent in urban areas, while those working in cattle herding and production are the most prominent in rural areas. In fact, cattle and farming account for 89 percent of child labor in rural areas, according to the International Labour Organisation.
  9. Hazardous Working Conditions: A study that the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) conducted reported that children in Ethiopia spent, on average, 41.4 hours a week in working conditions declared that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declared hazardous. The ILO defines Hazardous work as, “work which, by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of children.” The CSA concluded that this work has had detrimental effects on children’s health and school attendance in Ethiopia.
  10. A Top Country for Child Labor: According to the Maplecroft Child Labor Index, Ethiopia ranks fourth behind Bangladesh, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo on a list of the top 10 worst countries for child labor. While this number is more than devastating, the researchers who determine this ranking explain that the numbers do not include the thousands of unseen, uncounted child laborers. This gives the world an even greater reason to help bring awareness and solutions to the child labor problem plaguing Ethiopia.

While these facts about child labor in Ethiopia show that child labor has left an indelible mark on the country, new government reforms can undo much of the previous damage. The goal for future generations of Ethiopian children to live fulfilled lives that emphasize childhood education rather than childhood labor is now a real possibility.

– Aly Hill
Photo: Flickr

Supporting Entrepreneurs in Developing CountriesFrom 2002 to 2012, the World Bank invested around 9 billion dollars in skills training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. The hope was to counteract the shortage of schools worldwide. However, because these programs suffered from low participation and high dropout rates, they seldom lasted long enough to make any real impact. After doing a cost and benefits analysis of these programs, the World Bank found that they were not successful in increasing participant income. Consequently, the World Bank has started to withdraw its support from these programs, citing that there are several problems with the initiatives.

With the failure of such programs, aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries need a more efficient system to support them. Currently, more than two billion workers in these countries are unable to meet the requirements of possible employers, including necessary literacy skills. There are now about 420 million incapable workers below the age of 25. As a country’s economy evolves, locals need to adapt to changing needs. However, an overwhelming amount of people do not have the skill sets to do so.

Possible Solutions

One solution to this problem has been introducing programs that cultivate entrepreneurship in Africa’s youth and women. There have been several programs already instituted to work towards this goal, including the Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (paid), BeniBiz, Apoio e Geração e Incremento de Renda (AGIR), Impulsa Tu Empresa 2.0 (ITE 2.0) and Crece Tu Empresa (CRECE). 

These programs offer content and training in creating and maintaining businesses. They also offer lessons on accounting, management and finance. Some cater to individuals, while others cater to business owners. Graduation programs, which are now in the works, also intend to provide entrepreneurship learning services for lower prices. Overall, there are many options for aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. Two programs that especially stand out are the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) graduation program and Business Lab Africa (BLA).

Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB)

The International Labor Organization created Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) in 1977. It offers vocational training that has shown concrete results. People can use the locally relevant knowledge they gain from this program to work jobs that are in-demand and make a living for themselves and their families. The program also offers business management training. It teaches skills in accounting, finance, creating and maintaining business and management practices. Thus far, this program has more than 15 million users and is still growing. 

SIYB has been able to change the lives of many of its users. In 2011, the program conducted a SIYB Global Tracer Study that examined the effects of the program on users’ lives. About one-third of users who had no prior experience in business before receiving SIYB training were able to generate an average of three new jobs following its curriculum. SIYB is continuing to update its technology. In fact, a new version of its web-based monitoring platform (SIYB Gateway) is expected to launch in 2020.

Business Lab Africa (BLA)

The Business Lab Africa program (BLA) works to help African entrepreneurs succeed in business areas. The program itself is subscription-based and provides quality entrepreneurship training at inexpensive price points. This makes it easily accessible to entrepreneurs in developing countries. The program’s services can be accessed via mobile or web.

BLA “offers practical, qualitative and locally relevant” knowledge around marketing, sales, global expansion, business structure, processes and business models. Teachers in this program are distinguished business experts who teach relevant skills that entrepreneurs in developing countries can use to support themselves. Thus far, it has trained more than one million entrepreneurs both online and in person. By 2022, BLA estimates that its user base will increase to at least 100,000 people.

These programs are generally tailored to fit the needs of underprivileged individuals, offering both asset transfer and training. Additionally, they do not require repayment of initial grants, which would usually create an insurmountable barrier to student success and self-sustainability. With these programs, people living in underdeveloped countries will have the opportunity to access the educational tools needed to succeed despite staggering economic situations. 

Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Benefits of EducationMany consider access to education a basic human right, yet education is out of reach for some children and teens in underdeveloped and impoverished countries. But prospects for children around the world are looking better as organizations like the World Bank and USAID continue to fight for universal access to quality education. The following are the top 10 benefits of education.

10 Benefits of Education

  1. Secondary education can cut poverty in half: According to UNESCO, poverty could be more than halved if all adults received a secondary education—that is 420 million people around the globe. Secondary education provides people with skills that open up employment opportunities with higher incomes. When organizations tackle the issue of access to education, they also tackle global poverty which is why this falls at number one on this list of 10 benefits of education.
  2. Closing the education gender gap reduces child marriage: Child marriages force girls around the world to abandon school. But many countries are tackling the issue of child brides in innovative ways. For instance, Uganda’s girls’ clubs run by BRAC Uganda have reduced child marriage rates by providing sex education and vocational training to young aspiring female entrepreneurs. A two-year membership in the clubs makes girls 58 percent less likely to become victims of child marriages.
  3. Education reduces violence: According to the Global Partnership, if the secondary school enrollment rate is 10 percent higher than average, the risk of war decreases by 3 percent.
  4. Education lets children reach their fullest potential: The Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project is providing “safe space” programs for girls and includes financial incentives to encourage them to stay in school. Programs like these allow children to learn without worrying about money and give them the ability to reach their full potential.
  5. Protects children from trafficking: Trafficking affects at least 1.2 million children each year. Global March is working to reduce child trafficking and believes that one way to achieve this is through making education more accessible.
  6. Education helps the environment: The 2010 International Social Survey Programme showed that those who are more educated are more politically active when it comes to environmental issues. In Germany only 12 percent of respondents with less than a secondary education took action, but it rose to 26 percent of those with secondary education and 46 percent with tertiary education. Providing education to all creates healthier earth which is why helping the environment is an extremely important benefit on this list of 10 benefits of education.
  7. Reducing child labor: Child labor often places children in hazardous working conditions to support their families at a young age. Every day an estimated 152 million children work as child laborers. A contributing factor to child labor is the lack of access to education. Global March is assisting governments to reduce vulnerabilities like this that make children more susceptible to child labor.
  8. Education is improving world health: Universal access to education could reduce rates of STDs such as HIV and AIDS. Organizations like SWEDD are working to expand access to reproductive, child and maternal health services as well as education services. Sex education and health services could greatly reduce STD rates and improve world health, especially in impoverished countries.
  9. Universal access boosts the economy: Access to education provides students with skills and knowledge that make job opportunities with higher incomes available to them. In sub-Saharan Africa, women are not encouraged to go into STEM careers, which tend to have higher earnings. This can be explained by limited role models and a lack of information about opportunities in these male-dominated fields. Education can encourage women to join these fields and create a more diverse and flourishing economy.
  10. Inclusive education is giving disabled children a chance: Between 93 and 150 million children around the world under 14 are disabled according to the 2011 World Report on Disability. Many of these children grow up and struggle to make a living for themselves because of their lack of access to education limits their job opportunities. Access to inclusive education would give these children the tools they need to succeed. In 2017, the World Bank and USAID established the Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program which is a $3 million fund that aims to make education more inclusive for those with disabilities.

While many areas of the world might be far from achieving accessible education, circumstances continue to improve for children thanks to the work of organizations that are fighting to ensure that education is no longer a privilege but a human right for everyone. These 10 benefits of education provide only a small insight into what amazing gains are made for the world when everyone is able to receive an education.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr

5 Consequences of Not Having Access to Education
Growing up, many individuals assume that education is unlimited and that everyone has easy access; however, not receiving a proper education can have a major impact on an individual. Across the world, more than 72 million children are not able to gain access to an adequate education. In addition, almost 759 million adults remain illiterate. Part of this includes a lack of awareness to pursue an education. Further, many people who do have access to education typically take it for granted when many children cannot. It is important to understand the value of learning and the potential repercussions without it. Here are five consequences of not having access to education.

5 Consequences of Not Having Access to Education

  1. Lack of Representation. First and foremost, not receiving an education can have major consequences on an individual’s voice. It can hinder the development of the skills necessary to represent oneself. This is further evident through the continuing oppression of women in developing countries. These women typically marry at a young age and must work at accomplishing domestic chores. In nations such as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, many women without an education struggle to find jobs. Additionally, these women typically cannot read or write and often grow reliant on their husband’s income. In the end, the lack of access robs women of their potential. To add, gender disparity in youth literacy remains prevalent in almost one in five countries.

  2. Unemployment. In many nations, education often determines employability. These nations rely on well-educated workers to promote their economy and workforce. Employers also use these credentials to differentiate applicants and potential employees. Today, many organizations fighting this issue focus on educating the youth as approximately 71 million 15 to 24-year-olds do not have employment around the world. Without access to education, individuals are more prone to remain at the bottom of the list when it comes to obtaining a job. Even as little as a high school diploma can open up many opportunities for employment.

  3. Promotes Exploitation. Many individuals must resort to incredibly dangerous jobs just to make a living if they have limited education. Specifically, women and girls in developing countries often resort to various methods of exploitation to provide for themselves and their families. Education can provide secure work, but without it, people might have a difficult time getting ahead. Exploitation can include sweatshop labor, prostitution and child marriage.

  4. Difficulty Raising Children. Children often rely on their parents when it comes to their own education; however, it can be quite difficult for a parent to assist their child if they never had access to education. It is important to understand how the lack of education can have consequences on future generations. Uneducated parents face issues such as the inability to help children with their homework or not knowing how to help them find their full potential. According to the American Psychological Association, children of uneducated parents are typically behind their peers when it comes to cognitive development and literacy levels. The effects of this issue were evident in 2014 when approximately 61 million children of primary school age did not attend school.

  5. Poverty Trap. Ultimately, lacking access to a proper education puts an individual at risk of falling into the poverty trap. The poverty trap involves the inability to escape poverty due to a lack of resources. This can also lead to an intergenerational poverty gap, meaning children of those already in the trap are more likely to be at risk as well. Education provides the ability for one to access the knowledge necessary to make a living. Without it, it is difficult to escape the trap. According to the Brookings Institute study, each year of education provides an average 10 percent increase in wages.

In order to avoid these five consequences pf not having access to education, citizens around the world need to take action to increase access to education. Through advocacy and campaigns, there can be a change for the better. Once again, it is important to highlight the importance of education as it provides many opportunities for the future.

Srihita Adabala
Photo: Flickr

Food for Education is Feeding Kenyan Schoolchildren
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Africa has the highest rising rates of hunger in the world. In Eastern Africa, where Kenya is located, almost a third of the population is said to be undernourished. Additionally, 40 percent of the world’s stunted children live in Africa. Luckily, Food for Education is feeding Kenyan schoolchildren to help solve the problem.

Food for Education

Wawira Njiru founded Food for Education in 2012 to provide nutritious, subsidized meals to children in Kenyan primary schools. When she began, Njiru only fed 25 children from Ruiru Primary School. Now, her organization has provided over 500,000 meals to more than 10,000 children across 11 different primary schools. Food for Education has four head chefs and eight assistant chefs who prepare food. The organization delivers the food to the 11 partner schools by lunchtime. Parents pay $0.15 for the lunches using mobile money, which then credits into a virtual wallet. The wallet links to a smart wristband that students wear that they then use to pay for their meals.

Effects of Hunger on Students

Food for Education is feeding Kenyan schoolchildren and this is important because hunger affects both the physical and mental development of children. Estimates determine that 23 million children go to school without anything to eat in Kenya. Chronic undernutrition impacts one in four children, stunting their growth. Children who are hungry fall behind in classes because they have trouble learning and paying attention. The child may also fall behind in class as a result of missing classes to help their family put food on the table. In addition, they are also more likely to have behavioral problems. All of these challenges may result in the child having to repeat a grade, which contributes to the family’s financial strain. In the long run, it affects the child’s productivity and future economic potential.

There has been a positive impact since Food for Education began its work feeding Kenyan schoolchildren. The organization reports that other than the improved nutrition for the children, there has been an improvement in school attendance, school performance and the transition rates from primary to high school. The U.N. deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, at a school visit by Food for Education, noted that stunted growth costs Africa $25 billion annually. Therefore, the work that Njiru and her organization does is helping lift people out of poverty.

The Benefit to the Community

Food for Education does not only benefit the student, it also feeds the community around them. For example, the organization utilizes food sourced from local farmers. Njiru also makes an effort to only hire locals. The 35 employees who help her meet her goal are all from the Ruiru community. This is important because it enables the members of that community to earn an income and support themselves.

Food for Education efforts are helping Kenyan children receive an education without worrying about a lack of stable access to food. In fact, Njiru’s contribution has not gone unnoticed. In 2018, she was the first recipient of the Global Citizen Prize, Cisco Youth Leadership Award. Among other things, the award came with a cash prize of $250,000 which has significantly helped boost the organization. She hopes that she can one day scale up from 10,000 meals a day to providing one million meals a day.

Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Palestine
Despite Palestine’s constant immersion in conflict as a result of Israeli occupation, there are some positives in regards to girls’ education. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Palestine that showcase both the good and the bad of the country’s education system.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Palestine

  1. Literacy Rates: Palestine has one of the highest literacy rates in the world with 96.9 percent of its population being literate. In particular, there have been great strides in improving women’s literacy rates. The literacy rate went from 78.6 percent in 1995 to 97 percent in 2018. Female literacy rates are at their highest in the West Bank and their lowest in Salfit.
  2. School Infrastructure and Teachers: The education system is struggling due to insufficient school infrastructure and a lack of teachers with adequate training, as well as the existence of schools in marginalized areas. During the first 10 years of the Israeli occupation, the government built no new schools and classrooms of existing ones were overcrowded. The lack of schools led to an emergency-like situation in education, which resulted in some positive achievements, such as the regaining of the credibility of the Tawjihi, a secondary school matriculation exam. There has also been an improvement in extracurricular activities for students.
  3. The Effects of the Israeli Occupation: The Israeli occupation is mostly responsible for the struggles of the education system, given that it continually causes the exposure of schools to rockets and bombs. Building restrictions that Israeli rule implemented in places such as Area C and East Jerusalem are primarily responsible for the shortage of infrastructure. There are also movement restrictions, such as checkpoints and the Barrier, which can pose challenges to accessing services like education. The Barrier is an Israel-approved physical barrier in and around the West Bank in Palestine.
  4. Enrollment in Early, Primary, Secondary and Higher Education: There is a comparable amount of enrollment in primary education when it comes to boys and girls. Still, admissions are higher for female students to both secondary and higher education institutions. However, when it comes to Early Childhood programs, only 14.9 percent of girls are enrolled. Therefore, the U.N. has made it a priority to start investing in early childhood education, focusing on funding both teacher education and gender equality awareness.
  5. Raising Awareness About Female Education: Some of the U.N.’s planned interventions include raising awareness about the disadvantages of early marriage and the importance of female education. This effort is on-going, as women still struggle with early marriage, and gaining education and employment in Palestine. A female Palestinian student interviewed by the L.A. Review stated that “we have this thing in our society that is like, your house, your kids are [more] important than anything else. Your job is not so important because it’s like, your husband is working.”
  6. Education and Conflict: Education is critical in Palestine because it can be a non-violent form of protest against the on-going conflict. UNICEF enforces this ideology by using a behavioral change approach towards students. It encourages students, parents and teachers to challenge the acceptance of violence. It enforces this mindset by providing education and raising awareness.
  7. Women and Unemployment: Women in Palestine experience marginalization despite their education, suffering from a high rate of unemployment when compared to the rest of the world. The unemployment rate among women with 13 years of schooling or more was 50.6 percent in 2016, which was a significant increase from the 21.9 percent recorded in 2000.
  8. Women’s Participation in the Labor Market: Palestinian women have the lowest participation in the labor market within the MENA region. When it comes to labor force participation, women have a 19 percent participation rate compared to 71 percent of male participation. There is a joint effort to find and apply solutions to this problem. One solution is the U.N.’s policy to encourage girls to have Technical and Vocational Education Training, which the U.N. has partially implemented to date.
  9. Dangers on Route to School: Approximately half a million children in Palestine require humanitarian assistance to receive a quality education. The violence in the West Bank poses threats and challenges, which lead to children to experience distress and fear, even when going to and from school. This is because they might pass high-risk locations or checkpoints.
  10. Electricity Shortages: Electricity shortages that constant conflict causes are affecting access to education, both at school and at home, by striking study time and concentration. These shortages are a result of the sole electric company facing a lack of fuel, which is a consequence of the closure of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. To reduce the reliance on fuel, organizations such as the World Bank and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been working on providing alternative energy sources.

Foreign aid and raising awareness about the importance of girls’ education in Palestine have enabled some progress. However, as a conflict-ridden area, there is more that the country requires to ensure long-lasting development and enforce quality education. By looking at these 10 facts about girls’ education in Palestine, one can begin to see some of these efforts and realize how it should be a priority to find additional solutions.

– Johanna Leo
Photo: Flickr

Education in SpainThe Spanish education system does not match up to the standards of the rest of Europe or other developed nations. However, the government is doing its best to put measures in place aimed at improving these standards. Below are eight facts about education in Spain:

8 Facts About Education in Spain

  1. The current system of education in Spain, also known as the Ley Orgánica de Educación (LOE), or the Fundamental Law of Education, means that education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16. This system also typically requires parents to pay for books and other materials such as uniforms.
  2. It is estimated that as of 2016, 98.3 percent of the population in Spain is literate. This is largely attributable to the 10 years of compulsory education.
  3. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport generally oversees education in Spain. However, each of the 17 autonomous regions in the country can make most of the decisions regarding their systems.
  4. Schools are categorized in three ways, there are state schools that are fully funded by the state, privately-run schools which are funded partly by the state and partly by private investors and purely private schools. A majority of Spanish students, 68 percent to be exact, attend state schools. This compares to only 6 percent of students who attend purely private schools.
  5. There are four levels of education in Spain. The first is a nursery or preschool, which is optional. Next comes six years of primary, which is the first stage of compulsory education, followed by compulsory secondary education for four years. Finally, there is an optional level of upper secondary education. At the primary level, the average number of students per class is around 25. While in secondary, the average number of students per class is around 30.
  6. A 2019 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that Spain experiences more class time than both the European Union and OECD averages. The difference is more pronounced in high school, where Spain’s class time per year is 1,045 hours. This compares to the EU average of 893 hours, while the OECD average consists of 910 hours. This doesn’t seem to have any positive outcome, considering Spanish students perform worse on average than other students regarding the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test. PISA experts believe the problem lies in the teaching methods, as Spanish students tend to memorize information instead of trying to find their own solution to problems.
  7. From pre-primary to secondary education, the enrollment rate was above 90 percent at each level in 2017. However, for tertiary education, the enrollment rate falls to 88.85 percent during the same period. Again, this is attributable to the fact that tertiary education is neither compulsory nor free. Interestingly, more girls than boys enrolled at each stage of education. This includes a marked difference at the tertiary level where the enrolment rate for females is 97 percent compared to 81 percent for males.  However, Spain also faces the greatest number of school dropouts in the EU.
  8. The government expenditure on education has steadily declined since 2009, including spending of 4.87 percent of the GDP on education, compared to 4.21 percent in 2016. This puts makes Spain on the tail-end of European countries when it comes to governmental education spending

While there are positives surrounding education in Spain, the situation requires additional efforts. With increased investment by the government and improved policies, schools will be able to afford more resources, hire more teachers and reduce the ratio of students to teachers. In doing so, students can receive more personalized attention and a better academic experience. Further, this will improve the quality of education and possibly reduce the time spent by students in the class. Finally, these enhancements will likely decrease the unemployment rate and greatly improve the quality of life in Spain.

– Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Indigenous Minority Languages 

Approximately half of the world’s 7,000 distinct spoken languages are at risk of extinction within this century as a result of market globalization. Generational language loss emerges from the prioritization of dominant languages over minority languages. Yet, online communications technology expands outlets for the promotion and preservation of endangered indigenous minority languages. 

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) recognizes 56 ethnic minority groups, of which 55 have indigenous languages, numbering approximately 130. Indigenous peoples consisting of 1,000 or fewer people speak at least 20 of those languages. Out of 11 million ethnic Manchus, fewer than 100 have conversational fluency, a symptom of Standard Mandarin supplanting the Manchu language. The Hezhen, Tatar and She languages face circumstances like Manchu, while the Jinuo, Nu, Pumi and Yilao languages risk losing their conversational status.  

Historic Policies for Preserving China’s Indigenous Minority Languages

The PRC Ministry of Education has implemented policies for the preservation of indigenous minority languages. These policies rest on the premise of the legal equality of all ethnicities and autonomous governments in the nation. Hence, minority ethnicities have considerable self-government in the form of five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures, 120 autonomous counties and 1,256 autonomous communities. Autonomous ethnic minority areas comprise 64 percent of China‘s total landmass, governing 75 percent of the ethnic minority population.

The law guarantees the provision of language interpreters for ethnic minority representatives in the PRC’s parliamentary assemblies. Likewise, official bodies translate all laws, regulations and major political documents into indigenous minority languages. Autonomous governments conduct their affairs in these languages. Standard Mandarin and minority languages coexist on autonomous government seals, identity cards and in the commercial sector.  

Plaintiffs may file lawsuits in indigenous minority languages, and defendants without fluency in Standard Mandarin may request translators. Courts may conduct trials in native languages for the sake of convenience and efficiency, while the translation of court documents into many languages occurs in multilingual regions.  

Autonomous regions receive latitude in structuring education in many languages. But such schools must also ensure skill in Standard Mandarin. As of 2012, bilingual education existed in 21 autonomous regions and 13 provinces, encompassing approximately 10,000 schools.

Policies incentivize minority authors and translators to write and publish in their native tongues. No cap exists on the quantity of minority language writings permitted, while the free provision of stripe codes further facilitates publication. State proposals to fund minority language magazines and journals raise questions of integrity and autonomous development.  

Kazakh, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Zhuang and Yi are among the sixteen indigenous minority languages in which CCTV has broadcast since May 22, 1950. The national radio has broadcast in more than 20 minority languages, compared with local radio broadcasting encompassing 30-plus languages.

The Increased Role of Digital Technology in Present-Day Language Preservation Measures

As a supplement to these earlier measures, authorities now explore the opportunities afforded by technology for moving language preservation into a globalized digital world. In 2010, the PRC began developing a vocal database of the nation’s officially-recognized languages and dialects. Xinjiang-based ethnic Kazakh university professor Akbar Majit notes that as of 2010, online communication had already made inroads in minority communities. In 2010, the PRC began developing a vocal database of the nation’s officially-recognized languages and dialects. Majit notes that as of 2010, online communication had already made inroads in minority communities.

An event held in September 2018 in Hunan province showcased technological options, such as the comprehensive recording of endangered languages. Among the advanced technologies discussed as language preservation tools were AI speech recognition and synthesis.

Conclusion

Tibetan monk and software developer Lobsang Monlam notes that even small inroads of digital technology on Tibet make a considerable impact. Internet, word processing and other adaptations of the Tibetan language currently exist. From grammar, character and spell-check programs to optical character recognition, speech-to-text and translation software, digital technology may substantially assist minority language preservation and promotion throughout China. Building upon the policies of the past with the technology of the present and future, justification exists for optimism about the future of China’s minority languages. 

– Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Everystockphoto

Education in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste is a Southeastern Asian country occupying the east side of the island, Timor. The small country is home to a little more than 1 million people. Unfortunately, the literacy rate is only 67.5 percent. Improving the quality of education has been a struggle, but there has been significant progress in the past 18 years. Here are eight facts about education in Timor-Leste.

 8 Facts About Education in Timor-Leste

    1. By 2001, a year before gaining its independence, 90 percent of schools had been destroyed due to the violence and destruction that ensued from Indonesia’s rule over the country. These destroyed schools had once employed 6,000 teachers and educated 240,000 children. After Timor-Leste gained its independence, the country had to completely rebuild these institutions from the ground up.

    2. Because of the focus on rebuilding education, Timor-Leste was able to make quick progress. Between 2002 and 2014, enrollments went from 240,000 students enrolled to 364,000. The number of teachers doubled during this time, going from 6,000 to 12,000. Primary education enrollment increased from 68 percent in 2005 to 85 percent in 2008.

    3. Despite the increase in school enrollment, many young and adult Timorese lack the basic education needed to fully participate in society and contribute to the economy. Unfortunately, 27 percent of the adult population is semi-literate and 37 percent is completely illiterate.

    4. In 2010, the World Bank set up its Second Chance Education project to boost the number of out-of-school youth and adults who have access to an equivalency program to receive the education they missed. The Second Chance Education project ran from December 2010 to December 2015, supporting the Ministry of Education in Timor-Leste. Its major goals included training staff members, developing school curriculums and improving existing adult literacy programs. The same year, the government aimed to accelerate the completion of basic education for uneducated students due to lack of availability, while trying to build the education system back up. Government expenditure on education had increased from 13 percent in 2004 to 25 percent in 2010.

    5. The quality of education has room for improvement. About 70 percent of students in grade one could not read a single written word in Portuguese and the native Tetum language, the two most commonly spoken languages in the country. This, however, decreased to 40 percent by the end of grade two. Still, by the end of their second year of schooling, 40 percent of kids are still illiterate.

    6. Many teachers have only completed secondary school themselves. But with UNICEF supporting the Ministry of Education, teachers are trained in order to improve the quality of education. Teachers who have already gone through training have noticed that with their new direction toward teaching, students are more engaged and more conversation between instructor and student.

    7. There is a large gap between access to education between rural and urban areas. For urban residents, the enrollment rate for pre-secondary and secondary levels is 100 percent, while in rural areas, it is only 60 percent. Likewise, the literacy rate for youth ages 15-24 in urban sections of the country is 94.3 percent, but 78.5 in rural locations. The Education Management Information System works toward future teacher redistribution. This will place more teachers in rural areas in hopes of increasing the quality of education and bridging the gap between rural and urban.

    8. CARE’s Lafaek Education project provided “Lafaek Prima,” educational magazines written in Tetum, for 85,276 students in grades three and four. This builds off of what these students already learned in grades one and two; the content prepared in collaboration with teachers, educational staff and the government, ensures that the magazine is suitable for their students.

Despite working from the ground up, education in Timor-Leste has greatly improved since it gained its independence in 2002. The government has stepped in, as well as other organizations, to prioritize educational needs across the country. In the long term, this will assist the Timorese in climbing out of poverty.

Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr