Information and stories on education.

Drug cartel recruitmentIn Mexico, drug trafficking endangers civilians of all ages through increasing crime and violence. Rampant cartel activity particularly impacts children. For example, due to increased cartel-related violence, schools are no longer safe spaces for young students to receive an education. In a 2012 national survey, 38.8% of the population chose school as one of the public spaces where they feel unsafe. Children are additionally at risk of drug cartel recruitment. This is because cartels seek unlikely suspects and easily dispensable members. If prosecuted, minors also are not charged as adults.

Targeting Impoverished Children

According to the Network for Children’s Rights in Mexico, organized crime groups recruited about 350,000 young people around the country, with around 400,000 finding themselves vulnerable to drug cartel recruitment. Cartels especially target impoverished children who live in tumultuous households, swaying them to join with the promise of economic gain and even a “sense of belonging.”

Reinserta is a non-profit organization in Mexico working to protect children from this growing issue. Founded in 2013, Reinserta offers education, job training and placement and mental health support for children facing crime and violence in Mexico in general. The organization supports youth in proximity to organized crime and drug cartel recruitment with research and reintegration efforts.

Research

Since its founding, the organization has conducted six research studies and reports on violence impacting adolescents in general. It has also conducted surveys to see the impacts of drug cartel recruitment of youth more specifically. The investigation explores the prevalence and gravity of cartels recruiting young members.

It has also hosted 89 interviews with minors in juvenile detention centers and found that 67 were part of cartel activity before their arrest. All the organization’s research and data from the organization is calling attention to a problem that continues to target children who are as young as 10. Reinserta recognizes that progress begins with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the issue at hand.

Reintegration

For youth who have already been involved in organized crime, Reinserta offers models of reintegration and rehabilitation. It works across 14 detention centers for youth, offering education and job training and placement services. Through its work, the organization saw that eight out of 10 participating youth continued studying or found a job after Reinserta’s programs. Some of the most common jobs the young people have found are in “gastronomy, styling, barbering, sewing, serigraphy, paramedics, radio and muralism.” In total, the non-profit has impacted over 1,300 adolescents who have been in prison, with a non-recurrent rate of more than 90%, according to its website.

As drug cartel recruitment in Mexico has increased in the past years, the work of Reinserta is becoming more critical than ever. Through its important research and reintegration initiatives, Reinserta operates as one of the Mexican non-profits making the most change for adolescents affected by violence today.

– Estelle Lee
Photo: Unsplash

child labor In BoliviaIn Bolivia, “one of the poorest nations in Latin America,” children face alarming levels of monetary poverty, affecting 48% of children overall and disproportionately impacting 65% of indigenous girls. These figures starkly contrast with the high national poverty rate of 36.4% and an extreme poverty rate of 11.1% recorded in 2021. These circumstances fuel the widespread prevalence of child labor in Bolivia, with 286,890 children aged 7-14 working as of 2022, many of them working in the mining industry.

With global silver demand surging by 18% in 2023, mining companies are turning their attention to Bolivia, a country that formerly supplied 20% of the world’s silver. However, historical Spanish involvement in Bolivia’s silver mining has tarnished its reputation with exploitation. Consequently, efforts to prevent a potential increase in child labor in Bolivia and the mining industry are underway through educational initiatives led by organizations such as PASOCAP.

History of Mining

Cerro Rico, meaning Rich Mountain, towers over the city of Potosí and is famous for the world’s “richest silver deposit” discovered in 1545. During the Spanish conquest in 1532, the Spanish exploited indigenous expertise through the mita, a forced labor practice that resulted in a significant decline in the Andean indigenous population while funding the expansion of the Spanish empire.

Toxic dust and fumes exposed miners to perilous conditions, which earned Cerro Rico the name “The Mountain That Eats Men.” Estimates suggest that the forced labor at the mine claimed the lives of 8 million indigenous people and African slaves. Despite the arrival of the liberator Simon Bolivar in 1825, the mita persisted until its abolition in 1832, according to Kris Lane’s study.

Mining in Bolivia Today

Mining continues to be the primary economic activity in Potosí. However, with much of the wealth and resources already extracted, families face financial struggles, relying on the scant earnings from what remains of the plundered riches. In the past, UNICEF has stated that poverty and family breakdown are the primary causes pushing children into mining labor. Despite the Bolivian government’s classification of mining as one of the worst forms of child labor in Bolivia for its impact on health and education, according to a 2022 report, children are compelled to take risks and make sacrifices to support their families’ livelihoods.

Children who are as young as 15 have contracted silicosis, a lung disease that exposure to silica dust causes, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, coughing, loss of appetite and death. ABC News reveals that a lack of investment and safety inspections has led to inadequate safety measures, including insufficient safety gear, power and ventilation. Additionally, miners face other hazards such as toxic gases, mine collapses, dynamite handling and electrocution from outdated machinery, according to a 2023 report. These conditions perpetuate a cycle of poverty and miners’ low life expectancy of about 45 years.

Education for the Elimination of Child Labor

Nadia Alejandra Cruz Tarifa, the Vice Minister of Equal Opportunities at Bolivia’s Ministry of Justice and International Transparency, shed light on the significant role poverty plays in driving child labor in Bolivia during her address to the 2023 Committee on the Rights of the Child.

During her speech, she emphasized the pivotal link between education and poverty elimination in Bolivia, stressing the prevalence of school dropouts as a significant challenge for the state. She applauded the effectiveness of the Juancito Pinto bonus, a government initiative that offers annual monetary incentives to students and their families, successfully encouraging millions to stay in school, OHCHR reports. By addressing financial struggles, this initiative allows students to pursue education rather than resorting to hazardous labor like mining.

The Work of PASOCAP

After a decade of dedicated effort, PASOCAP collaborated with the working children of Potosí, establishing a dedicated day of commemoration for the dignity of working children in the city on December 8. This milestone also includes the enactment of Municipal Law No. 419, regulating fund allocation for initiatives addressing protection and prevention issues concerning working children. PASOCAPS’s Casa NAT’s program enabled this achievement by empowering young children to act as agents of change, exercising their citizenship and contributing to sustainable development.

Among the institution’s many initiatives is the InterSol Program, which targets “families, guards, watchmen, children, adolescents and young people” living and working alongside Cerro Rico. It aims to empower individuals regarding their constitutional and labor rights through workshops, emphasising laws safeguarding children and women while disseminating strategies to combat child abuse and reduce child labor in Bolivia.

Another initiative, “Protagonists of Peace” supports children struggling with violence, social disadvantage and the direct impacts of mining activities. It aims to equip them with life skills, enhance opportunities and promote advocacy for their rights. The primary goal is to improve the living standards of children and families linked to mining through comprehensive training, empowering them to influence municipal policies. Additionally, the project prioritizes health and nutrition, ensuring access to primary health care services for participants.

Instead of consigning children to work in the mines of Cerro Rico, PASOCAP is providing them with opportunities to challenge the industry’s structures and develop skills that offer genuine and sustainable alternatives that break the cycle of poverty. The Cerro Rico silver mines provide a microcosm through which to examine the high rates of child poverty and child labor in Bolivia. Acknowledging the efforts of institutions like PASOCAP in protecting children is crucial in light of potential future mining activities in the country.

– Ben Miley-Smith
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Udaan's Efforts in Nepal: Giving Girls a Second ChanceWomen constitute more than half of Nepal’s population, yet they reside in a society where traditional norms frequently restrict girls’ access to education. However, Udaan’s efforts in Nepal aim to change this reality. The Udaan project, translating to flight or soar in Nepali, represents a transformative effort to educate and empower girls.

The Challenges Girls Face in Nepal

According to the Educational Equality Institute, societal norms, affordability issues and a lack of parental motivation hinder girls’ access to education in Nepal. Notably, 5.1% of Nepal’s population lived on $1.90 a day in 2022 and 20.27% lived below the poverty line in 2023. Poverty increases the likelihood of children, especially girls, dropping out of school. Approximately 18% of Nepalese children do not complete primary education, with girls making up 49% of this group. Parents often prioritize marriage over education for their daughters, believing they cannot secure jobs to support their parents in the future, unlike their sons. This mindset leads to many girls leaving school early, perpetuating cycles of poverty and inequality.

Transformative Education through UDAAN

Udaan has become a driving force for change, offering girls a chance to overcome societal barriers and chase their dreams. The project delivers comprehensive support through scholarships, mentorship programs and community engagement efforts. These scholarships pay for tuition, books, snacks and other educational expenses, eliminating financial hurdles and allowing girls to continue their education without interruption. Aimed at girls aged 9 to 14, Udaan features an intensive 11-month curriculum designed to challenge damaging social norms and provide a stable, secure environment for girls’ education. This enables them to catch up on missed education and rejoin the public school system within a year.

Udaan’s Efforts in Nepal: Shaping the Future

Beyond offering education to girls, Udaan also aims to prevent child marriage by providing quality education. This empowers them to make informed life decisions, secure sustainable jobs and support themselves and their families. As Udaan expands its impact, the outlook for girls in Nepal is bright. Empowering each girl to follow her dreams and contribute to her community, Udaan’s influence reaches well beyond the classroom, fostering a more equitable and inclusive society for future generations.

Looking Forward

Udaan’s comprehensive approach promises a brighter future for girls in Nepal, breaking the chains of poverty and gender bias. Udaan’s efforts in Nepal are pivotal to this mission. Through education and empowerment, this initiative paves the way for young women to achieve their potential and contribute significantly to their communities. The ripple effects of their success are bound to foster greater gender equality and economic development across Nepal. As these girls soar to new heights, they exemplify the transformative power of education in shaping societies.

– Erika David

Erika David is based in Union, NJ, USA and focuses on Good News and Technology and Solutions for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Unsplash

Educational ProgramsResearch has proven that education is a powerful tool in significantly reducing the effects of poverty. In addition, activists and those on the ground have begun to use educational programs to improve social mobility, especially in the most poverty-stricken countries where citizens endure extreme social and economic conditions.

Educational Disparities 

For many citizens, a lack of education could be the source of many factors, including marginalization and poverty. Inequalities arise according to an individual’s socioeconomic status and how far-developed a country is. In developing and developed countries, it varies whether or not the ruling government is stable enough to sustain an equitable education system for its citizens.

Poverty remains one of the more persistent barriers, a seemingly neverending cycle. Poverty perpetuates lower literacy rates and such limitations reap consequences. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than “600 million children worldwide are unable to attain minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, even though two-thirds of them are in school.” This is attributed to a need for more developed foundational skills, a direct result of poverty.

Educational Programs in Mitigating Extreme Poverty

Extensive measures from both government and community-based organizations are necessary to mitigate the direct effects of inadequate education on poverty. Such initiatives from the ground are critical because these communities work directly with those impacted by the effects of poverty. Nonprofit organizations provide educational materials and programs to the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized populations. That said, here are some educational initiatives working to end extreme poverty.

SEED Madagascar

Sustainable Environment, Education & Development (SEED) in Madagascar is a British nonprofit organization operating in Southeast Madagascar. According to its mission statement, this organization builds community and environmental resilience by focusing on critical elements, including education. One project the organization prioritizes is education infrastructure. In the Anosy Region, where the organization completes most of its projects, the chances of children completing primary school could be higher. Through its work, SEED Madagascar has already completed educational projects: repairing existing buildings, building new schools and providing facilities and furniture to schools that lack them.

What makes this organization stand out is the implementation of better health practices for the students who attend these schools. Students can expand and build their literacy skills while learning how to improve their health. According to a 2023 report conducted by the organization, “Programme Sekoly,” increased access to water, sanitation and hygiene resources and education for more than 400 students and more than 10 teachers in Sainte Luce Primary School. This action was taken to curb the spread of diseases and fatalities associated with inadequate access to water, sanitation and proper hygiene facilities, all of which are connected to poverty.

Pratham USA

This organization was founded in 1995 to provide education to Mumbai slums. It is recognized as one of India’s largest and most successful nongovernmental agencies. Pratham works extensively in developing initiatives that help bridge the gaps in the education system. Filling such gaps includes solutions based on technology, where children are experiencing increased access to digital learning options in their curriculum. According to an evaluation conducted by the program, around 80% of children could do basic arithmetic after six to eight weeks of instruction provided through a learning camp. Ultimately, the nonprofit has reached more than more than 75 million children and youth since its inception.

Looking Ahead

Government infrastructure is often severely limited in most underdeveloped countries. Recognizing and acknowledging organizations’ ground-level work in combating poverty may help increase awareness of education’s role in breaking poverty cycles. Just as a lack of education can cause poverty, education can also drastically change it. Education opens windows of opportunity related to achieving higher education and an increase in economic resources and jobs.

– Dominic Samaniego
Photo: Flickr

charities operating in Costa RicaCosta Rica is the most popular Central American country for tourists. People come from around the world to see its beautiful rainforests and beaches. However, like much of Central America, Costa Rica struggles with poverty and inequality. The level of poverty in Costa Rica has been increasing over the past few years. The studies estimate that over the past five years, poverty levels have increased by 2.3 percentage points. Some studies even state that a quarter of all Costa Ricans could have been living in impoverished households, as of 2022. This increased level of poverty is making society more dangerous for everyone. The number of homicides went up 40% between 2022 and 2023. As the situation worsens, these five charities operating in Costa Rica are more vital than ever.

SOS Children’s Villages

Children are an at-risk group in Costa Rica. In 2020, UNICEF found that “nearly 32% of all children and adolescents live in monetary poverty, of which 12% live in extreme poverty.”

SOS Children’s Village is helping some of the most vulnerable kids in society right now who struggle with poverty, child labor and violence and has been doing it since 1972. Currently, 190 kids attend the organization’s schools and kindergartens and 300 live in its care. The organization also created the YouthLinks program. This digital platform “connects young people with mentors in the country.” The mentors teach employable skills and job market advice to young people.

Cruz Roja

Cruz Roja operates in Costa Rica and is a part of the international Red Cross community. The organization has more than 5,000 volunteers throughout the country and has responded to an incident every minute in 2023.

The organization provides key medical services to Costa Ricans and has a fleet of around 600 ambulances operating in 122 communities around the country. Cruz Roja is also ready to provide humanitarian assistance in cases of natural disasters and has specialized units prepared to provide support in different environments and situations.

Hope Partners International

Hope Partners is a Christian organization that operates in Costa Rica. Its goal is to break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of young people there.

Recently, the organization opened its first purpose-built facility in the Pavas neighborhoods in the capital San Jose. Pavas is one of the most deprived areas in San Jose where only 20% of residents have a high school diploma. The new facility will impact the lives of over 600 kids and it will provide a hub for Hope Partners to deliver their food and education programs.

Rahab Foundation

The U.S. Department of State recognizes Costa Rica as a Tier 2 country regarding its efforts to eliminate human trafficking, stating that the country “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”

Founded in 1997, the Rahab Foundation helps victims of human trafficking and the sex trade. It provides many different forms of help for the victims including job training, legal advice and psychological care. The foundation provides care and various classes to victims and their children. Women are also offered “offered vocational training in micro-enterprise administration, baking, sewing, jewelry making, quilting and cosmetology.”

Sex trade victims and their families often find themselves in the cycle of poverty. The Rahab Foundation helps these victims recover and create a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their children.

Hogar Siembra

As of 2023, Costa Rica registered more than “30,000 domestic violence complaints over the past four years, with an alarming 10,000 cases reported in 2023 alone.” Founded in 1983, Hogar Siembra is an organization providing shelter to girls aged 12 to 18 who have suffered from abuse or domestic violence.

The organization provides various kinds of training to these girls, teaching them simple habits such as hygiene and providing English language courses. It also provides regular therapy and mental health check-ups, alongside work opportunities and academic education, ensuring to prepare young girls for their adulthood.

Hogar Siembra allows young women to not be defined by their abuse. It is helping these victims restart their lives and create a prosperous future for themselves.

Costa Rica is struggling with poverty and its effects. The work of these five charities operating in Costa Rica is helping at-risk groups create a poverty-free future for themselves.

– Richard Sartor
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in the CARPeriod poverty constitutes a pressing global public health challenge many have often disregarded. It encompasses a lack of access to menstrual products, education and proper sanitation facilities. Although Period Poverty may sound cliché, its implications are far-reaching and often unrecognized. Despite significantly impacting millions of girls worldwide annually, the issue remains largely unaddressed by the media. Nowhere is this issue more acute than in the Central African Republic (CAR), where it compounds existing obstacles to accessing essential resources such as education and health care services. This article explores key facts about period poverty in the CAR. It highlights its harsh realities and stresses the urgent need for support and intervention.

Limited Access To Menstrual Products

Limited access to menstrual products in the CAR exacerbates challenges faced by women and girls, hindering their ability to manage their menstrual health effectively. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day in 2014, highlighting the dire consequences of stigma, poverty and inadequate access to essential services such as toilets and water on menstrual health and hygiene for women and girls.

Particularly affected are the poorest, ethnic minorities, refugees and individuals with disabilities. Although menstrual materials are widespread, ranging from 81% to 100% across most countries surveyed, some rely on inadequate substitutes like paper or nothing. Additionally, access to private spaces for washing and changing varies greatly, with significant disparities between rural and urban areas and ethnic groups facing even more critical challenges and limitations in emergency settings.

The Educational Barriers

CAR significantly impedes educational opportunities for young women. One in four miss school due to substandard facilities for menstruation and a lack of menstrual education. This absence of proper menstrual hygiene management not only hampers students’ education but also perpetuates the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation.

Health Implications

The deficient management of menstrual hygiene poses significant health risks for young women. Insufficient menstrual hygiene increases the likelihood of infections and reproductive health issues, potentially leading to long-term health complications. Furthermore, poor menstrual hygiene can contribute to social stigma and discrimination, exacerbating the mental and emotional well-being challenges faced by young women.

Cultural taboos surrounding menstruation persist in the CAR, exacerbating challenges for women and girls. The enduring stigma attached to this issue fosters silence, further complicating the establishment of effective policies concerning menstrual health.

Additionally, economic disparities worsen period poverty, particularly affecting women and girls from low-income households. Affording menstrual products becomes a challenge, perpetuating a cycle of poverty that obstructs their opportunities for advancement.

NGO Interventions and Future Prospects

Nonprofit organizations (NGOs) actively assist girls and women in the CAR who face challenges due to period poverty. NGOs like Days for Girls are at the forefront, educating about menstrual health, distributing hygiene products and challenging stigmatizing beliefs surrounding menstruation.

Period poverty in the CAR is a multifaceted challenge demanding attention, awareness and unified action. Despite progress, sustained efforts and partnerships with local communities and the government are essential for lasting change.

– Jayde Andrews
Photo: Flickr

Being Poor in GeorgiaGeorgia, a country in the South Caucasus region, borders Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Major structural reforms mark its recent history since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The country’s transition to a free-market economy allowed for persistent growth between 2010 and 2015 and a considerable reduction in poverty rates. However, being poor in Georgia means facing an uncertain future, the invasion of Ukraine and the impact of COVID-19, which are risks undermining the progress made by the country in recent years.

The government aims to reduce poverty despite harsh circumstances by combining targeted social assistance, fiscal policy measures and collaboration with the United Nations (U.N.) to eradicate extreme poverty as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specific attention is paid to vulnerable population segments, such as women and children.

Poverty in Georgia

In 2022, Georgia’s poverty headcount ratio reached 15.6% of its population at the national poverty line, its lowest in history. As a middle-upper-income country, Georgia has made huge strides in reducing its poverty rate in recent years. The nation, however, faces some structural deficiencies. The World Bank reports that limited high-quality job creation persists. At the same time, a third of the population still relies on low-productivity agriculture for income.

Education in Georgia

Part of these structural issues stems from the state of education in Georgia. As a country, Georgia spends less than countries with similar Gross domestic product (GDP) on education. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) pointed out that on top of low spending, bad resource allocation and low quality of teaching impair students’ ability to reach their full potential.

This is particularly true for students from rural and poor backgrounds, where completing upper secondary school is reported at 50% for rural students and 43% for students from poor backgrounds. Being poor in Georgia or from a rural area of the country means fewer chances of income growth through education. Thus, it is ostracizing already marginalized population segments from education-led social mobility.

Women and Poverty

Being poor in Georgia is not a condition equal across both sexes. Although poverty rates are similar among men and women, other sets of factors render women much more vulnerable to precarious situations. A U.N. report pointed out the large share of women who perform unpaid household work. About 49% of women cite unpaid care work as the principal reason for not having formal employment. This lack of revenue, specifically for poor women, exacerbates extreme risks of poverty as dependent upon the husband’s income.

Moreover, lack of formal work experience often leads to precarious job situations with a 14.7% hourly pay gap between men and women. In all, households headed by women are 20% more likely to face absolute poverty compared to male-headed households. This gender disparity also affects future generations; as the U.N. points out, children of poor households are more likely to remain in poverty; thus, gendered poverty undermines poverty reduction efforts.

SDGs 2030 and Georgia

Georgia, in 2015, committed to implementing the 2030 SDGs, setting 95 national targets to reach the 17 SDGs. Starting in 2015, Georgia identified its national strategy with the joint help of the U.N., producing numerous reports on the country’s growth and sectoral weaknesses. In particular, reports pointed out the prevalence of rural-to-urban income inequalities and the importance of social assistance to vulnerable population segments. These reports allowed targeted initiatives to accomplish SDG 1 on reducing extreme poverty.

For instance, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU), Georgia has implemented national strategies to render small to medium-sized businesses more sustainable and productive in rural areas. One of these success stories comes in the tea production area. The EU’s Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia, implemented with the help of the UNDP, has invested up to €5.7 million (approximately $6 million) in sustainable tea culture in the northern part of the country. This initiative has helped Georgian tea companies export to countries like Germany, growing income in rural parts of the country.

CARE International, an NGO working in Georgia

CARE International began its work in Georgia in 1992, supporting economic growth and civil society development amid the Soviet Union’s collapse. In 2008, CARE played a crucial role in supporting displaced persons as armed conflicts broke out in the region. The organization has since tailored its involvement to economic growth and implementing the 2030 SDGs in Georgia.

It emphasizes women’s empowerment in leadership and economic opportunities and support for rural households at risk of falling or already below the poverty line. CARE International has successfully reached 24,233 people, 57% of whom are women. The organization estimates its direct impact on implementing the 2030 SDGs since 2015 to have reached more than 100,000 people, reducing the likelihood of being poor in Georgia.

Looking Ahead

Georgia’s dedication to fighting poverty has shown encouraging results in the last decade. Although a range of structural issues related to education or women’s rights remain salient, the government’s commitment to improving the country’s population’s living standards sets it on the right track.

In December 2023, following an application to enter the EU, Georgia was granted candidate status, meaning the country meets the requirements and is eligible. This strengthening of EU relationships has prompted numerous cooperations in areas such as health care and economic partnership. With the ongoing process, Georgia’s decision to apply for EU membership is already bearing its fruits and helping eradicate extreme poverty.

– Felix Stephens
Photo: Flickr

Education Poverty in Sub-Saharan AfricaAn education is very important especially for children of young ages. Education poverty is a big issue in sub-Saharan Africa In fact, sub-Saharan Africa has low participation rates amongst children going to school which can decrease the chance of continuing school, dropping out and having a low rate of achievements. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the prominent places that has education poverty. About 6 million boys and 9 million girls in Africa will never go to school at all. Specifically in Mali, Africa, records have indicated that a lot of children are currently not in school. This includes children ranging from 6-17 that are not in school at the moment. 

Causes of Limited Education

Among the population of Mali, more than half of the Mali population, including more than half between the ages of 15 and 24 are illiterate. This can be due to many factors like the absence of textbooks, qualified teachers and low-quality school environment. The lack of access to the necessities and funding to create a good education program for these children to undergo are major issues when it comes to receiving a good education. Due to these factors, Mali students are not able to have basic skills of math and reading. 

Solutions

Many things are occurring to help this issue of education poverty. There have been donors and UN partners that have been a part of making a change when it comes to educational poverty in Africa.

For instance, the UIS has noticed what has been lacking for a proper education for these children like teachers and basic amenities that are necessary. To address that issue, UIS is working on training and recruiting teachers to teach in Africa. When it comes to the amenities, the organization is tracking which schools are lacking things like portable water, textbooks and access to electricity.

There is also another program that the World Bank has implemented called the “Mali Improving Education Quality and Results for All” where they are helping promote access to lower and upper secondary education for the children in Mali specifically. The World Bank mentioned this project is impacting about 4 million individuals in underserved areas as well.

Looking Ahead

While there is no set time to end education poverty in sub-Saharan Africa anytime soon, by what is occurring right now with the help of the government, UNESCO and USI, it is on the right track for giving these children a better education that they deserve. As time goes on, it should be hopeful that these young kids will have the chance to go to school with having access to electricity and having the right teachers to educate them. Time is all that is needed to come up with better ways to give these kids these amenities that they rightfully deserve.

Conclusion and Call to Action

Overall, education poverty is a major issue in Africa, especially in Mali. This can be due to many factors that can impact the effectiveness of the education they are getting. As mentioned before, there are many organizations that are helping the situation currently happening. For example, UNESCO is an organization that is there to give full power of education, science and culture in order to tackle issues that are in the world. In regards to helping the issue of education poverty, UNESCO is tracking the trends in teacher numbers and qualifications. It projects the numbers of teacher shortages so the organization can see where distribution is required to help reduce the shortage. It is slowly helping reduce education poverty and will hopefully continue to do so in the years to come.

– Madison Lam, Elizabeth Alebachew and Fabian Urrutia
Photo: Flickr

UBIs in Liberia

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a stipend provided to individuals irrespective of their employment status. It aims to bolster the economy across various demographics and sparks contentious debates. A central inquiry revolves around UBI’s long-term economic stimulation, with education emerging as a critical solution. Education and poverty are intricately intertwined. According to Montgomery County, “In general, average achievement scores decrease as the duration of poverty impact increases.” As academic performance declines, the prospects for a high quality of life also diminish. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlights that proficient reading skills alone have the potential to uplift hundreds of millions of individuals living in poverty from their current circumstances. Education serves as a pathway out of poverty. The debate surrounding UBI has persisted for a significant period, with arguments presented by both proponents and opponents. Each side offers compelling reasons to support or oppose UBI initiatives. Nevertheless, GiveDirectly presents persuasive evidence that UBIs are effective, showcasing their ability to reduce poverty in Liberia significantly.

Some Information: How UBIs Lower Poverty in Liberia

UBIs are easy to understand. They are an amount of money distributed to individuals in a society suffering extreme poverty. Poverty in Liberia falls within this guideline. Over half of the country’s population struggles to survive on less than $2 daily.

UBIs do not discriminate based on employment, age or health concerns. GiveDirectly allocates them to an entire demographic of people. They are “Universal.” The idea is that providing a baseline for an economy on which to grow will bolster that economy enough to jumpstart productivity and ensure long-term growth. GiveDirectly’s UBI also allocates more considerable sums instead of dividing them into small payments over time. Even their name suggests their goal. To “Give Directly” the support people need.

GiveDirectly: The Data

GiveDirectly is an organization fighting poverty in Liberia and other places around the globe. Since 2009, GiveDirectly has afforded more than $700 million to impoverished people. It has had initiatives to fight poverty in Liberia and years of meticulous research to back up its efforts.

The Borgen Project consulted Yonah Lieberman, GiveDirectly’s Senior Manager of Communications and Press, to gain insight into how Liberians utilized their monetary allocations. Lieberman responded by presenting a comprehensive breakdown, allowing the figures to speak for themselves.

33% of the funds went to education, 20% for food expenses, 14% for constructing new houses and 9% for home upgrades or structural improvements. Recipients set aside 8% of the funds for purchasing clothes and furnishings to improve comfort and quality of life. The remaining 4% of the funds were invested in agriculture, covering expenses related to seeds and fertilizers. GiveDirectly’s website provides extensive information about research methods and the outcomes of its UBI initiative.

Poverty in Liberia: Education

The numbers were impressive and the first item on Lieberman’s list encouraged the data further, i.e., education. Knowledge is power, an old maxim but a tried and true one. Many of the fears surrounding UBI stem from its longevity and sustainability. Naysayers argue that UBIs in Liberia are short-term fixes, bandaids on a wound that needs direct treatment. Nevertheless, the data from GiveDirectly combats that argument.

Education is among the highest concerns and a statistic continually linked to poverty. Wherever one reads tables and graphs measuring poverty, one also comes across that region’s deficit in educational resources. When it comes to poverty in Liberia, the case is no different. Education contributes more than 25% of the factors governing the country’s overall Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). In layperson’s terms, this means that a significant portion of the general reasons poverty in Liberia rates so high is because of Liberian’s lack of educational resources.

The Good News

On GiveDirectly’s webpage, visitors can discover numerous personal accounts detailing the impact of the organization’s support on education. Jennifer shares her experience of being able to cover her children’s school fees after receiving an initial sum of $111. Sarah recounts how she used $150 to settle school fee debts for her children from previous terms and enable her daughter to obtain certificates, paving the way for her college education. Meanwhile, Masha shares her journey of enrolling in college as a part-time student to pursue a course in masonry.

These stories are regularly updated and showcased in a dynamic feed on GiveDirectly’s website, offering real-time insights into the progress made by individuals. Visitors are encouraged to revisit the site for ongoing updates on GiveDirectly’s UBI initiative and its significant impact on poverty alleviation in Liberia throughout the year.

– Antonio Muhs
Photo: Flickr

Improving Primary School Teaching Deployment in Zambia A recent United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report highlights Zambia’s significant strides in expanding its education system. However, in the same report, the organization outlines that improvements to education quality have not kept pace in the same way. The country faces a teacher shortage, exacerbated by unequal teacher distribution. Improving teaching deployment in Zambia therefore seems to be of the utmost priority in ensuring an improvement in overall education quality.

The Government of Zambia has made the strengthening of recruitment and placement of teachers a key priority within the Ministry of Education (MoE). As such it has committed to the deployment of tens of thousands of new teachers across the country.

Key findings of the report

UNICEF outlines key findings during its analysis of the current education system of Zambia:

  • Inequitable Distribution of Teachers. The inequitable distribution of teachers contributes to significant disparities in learning conditions and class sizes. The data concludes that larger class sizes are associated with a more negative performance for students at the Grade 7 level.
  • Teachers Allocation. Teacher distribution across Zambia suffers both nationally and locally. While national data examines teacher allocation in large provinces, a closer look at individual districts reveals a more severe problem. Approximately one-quarter of all districts face significant teacher shortages, with pupil-to-teacher ratios reaching 80:1, double the MoE’s target. This disparity highlights the need for targeted interventions to balance teacher distribution and address educational inequalities.
  • Gender-equitable education Access. Remote and rural schools experience severe teacher shortages, with an even more acute scarcity of female teachers. This shortage significantly impacts gender-equitable education access, as UNICEF emphasizes the crucial role of female educators in encouraging the enrollment, retention and education of girls.
  • Pupil-to-teacher ratios (PTRs). Disparities in pupil-to-teacher ratios (PTRs) exacerbate inequities across different grades within schools, notably disadvantaging younger children. The report indicates that lower grades experience significantly higher PTRs compared to higher grades, undermining the quality of teaching for younger students. This disparity severely impacts the development of foundational learning skills at a critical stage in a child’s educational journey.
  • Primary School Teaching Deployment. The Zambian government, recognizing the critical issue of primary school teacher deployment, has taken steps through the Ministry of Education to address it. In 2022, it allocated 30,496 additional teachers and committed to increasing this number in the coming years to meet educational needs.

Recommendations for Policymakers

UNICEF has also outlined some key recommendations for dealing with the problems associated with the key findings of its report:

  • Localized Data. Use localized data in decision-making rather than broader data sourced from the provinces. This will in turn give a more realistic picture of the primary school teaching deployment in Zambia.
  • Teacher Recruitment and Retention. Give greater priority to teacher recruitment and retention in rural Zambia. This can be done by strengthening financial incentives for prospective teachers as well as addressing the physical constraints of living a more remote life.
  • Female Teachers. Address the lack of female teachers in rural areas by encouraging these teachers to move to remote areas by improving safety and security, difficulties in mobility as well as hygiene and sanitation needs. These measures may only be mitigated by additional investment in school infrastructure.
  • Teacher Deployment. Prioritize teacher deployment in the earlier grades by providing policy guidance for the school leaders and incentivizing teachers to spend more time in these classes.
  • Localized Teacher Transfers. Ensure that teacher transfers are localized to districts rather than across the country. This will ensure an equalized teaching standard for that district as well as reduce the risk of displacing teachers, increasing the likelihood of them staying at their assigned schools.
  • Local Authorities. Decentralizing educational powers empowers local actors and community members to be heavily involved in local schooling. These people will have greater one-to-one knowledge of teachers, parents and children and can tailor their needs and preferences. This personalized experience will ensure much better on-the-ground decision-making when it comes to teacher transfers and compliance.

Looking Forward

The Zambian government estimates a need for more than 115,000 more teachers to serve primary-level students adequately. UNICEF hopes its report and recommendations will support the country’s efforts to meet this critical demand for teaching deployment in Zambia.

– Domenico Palermo
Photo: Flickr