Facts About Sanitation in Egypt
In Egypt, approximately 8.4 million people do not have access to good sanitation, but the country has made many attempts throughout the years to improve sanitary conditions. As a result, many people and young children are enjoying a better quality of life. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Egypt.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Egypt

  1. USAID Reforms: USAID has invested $3.5 billion to bring portable water and sanitation to Egypt. Starting in 1978, the organization has helped advance wastewater systems in Cairo, Alexandria and the three Suez Canal cities. This provided clean water to 25 million Egyptians.
  2. Health Impact: Drinking contaminated water can lead to very serious illnesses and, in some cases, death. In Egypt, diarrhea is the second-leading cause of death. This can be especially problematic for children under the age of 5. Statistics even show that about 3,500-4,000 children under 5 die each year.
  3. The Water Crisis: Recently, water has become very scarce in Egypt. This is due to uneven water distribution and the mismanagement of resources. The pollution of the Nile River, the main source of water and agriculture, is also a big issue for water sanitation.
  4. Population Growth: Since the 1990s, Egypt has seen a 41 percent population growth, meaning that more and more people are crowding around water sources like the Nile River. Dr. El- Zanfaly with the American Institute of Science wrote that the crowding directly links to the “contemporary rural sanitation problem.”
  5. Toilet Troubles: Another sanitation issue for Egypt is access to clean toilets. The majority of the Egyptian people have toilets that either has bidet tubes or are squat toilets. With squat toilets, users require a hose and bucket to flush and wash their hands. Both types can become very unsanitary, especially public toilets.
  6. Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program: On September 21, 2018, The World Bank announced that it granted a $300 million loan to Egypt. The loan was to improve access to rural sanitation. As a result of the program, 833,000 Egyptians have gained access to local water and sanitation companies and additional financing will help 892,000 people in 178,000 households.
  7. North Sinai Initiative: USAID partnered with the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater. They work together to improve water sources by digging deep regulated wells and constructing desalination plants, reservoirs and portable water transmissions. Estimates determined that by 2019, the initiative should have provided clean drinking water to 300,000 of the 450,000 people living in the area. The total cost of the project was $50 million.
  8. Menstrual Hygiene: The lack of clean water can especially impact women. NCBI conducted a study with 664 girls aged 14-18. In this study, it found that on average the typical female Egyptian adolescent cannot bathe nor change her sanitary pad as frequently as she should. Not maintaining menstrual hygiene can cause frequent rashes and yeast infections. Unfortunately, there are little to no actions in place to fix these issues.
  9. Ancient Times: The Ancient Egyptians had revolutionary methods of staying hygienic and clean with in-home bathrooms and communal dumps. They would gather water from the Nile to do laundry and bathe. The communal dumps or irrigation canals caused vermin and diseases to grow and spread. As technology and resources evolved, so did Egyptian methods of sanitization.
  10. Impact on Schools: One in five schools in Egypt are unfit because of sanitation and contamination problems. Programs like the water, sanitation, hygiene interventions or WASH spread knowledge to teachers and students.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Egypt show that the country has made many attempts to better the quality of life of its people. With time and further resources, Egypt should increase the prevention of sanitation issues and reduce the spread of diseases.

– Sarah Mobarak
Photo: Flickr

Importance of Primary EducationOf all the resources that may cause enrichment of a nation, none are as valuable as the cognitive attainments of its population. The issue of access to primary education remains a critical one for many nations, particularly those in the developing world. Access to primary education and the impediments to its universalization may determine a nation’s trajectory for many years. Below are 10 facts about the importance of primary education.

10 Facts About the Importance of Primary Education

  1. Primary Education Consequences: Major life-long consequences accrue from access to primary education. The cumulative nature of the learning process, whether in literacy or numeracy, requires the early internalization of basic abstractions. Without this process at a young age, children fall behind in the trajectory of cognitive development and fail to reach their potential. Moreover, primary educational access facilitates the identification of, and assistance to, both gifted and struggling young minds.
  2. Nations’ Development: A nation’s development relies considerably on the access of its population to educational institutions. Access to primary education, regardless of class or caste or income, levels the social playing field. Gender equality, another significant marker of national development, improves alongside the universalization of access to educational institutions, including primary schools.
  3. Refugee Children: According to the United Nations, roughly 39 percent of refugee children across the globe do not receive a primary school education. This enrollment statistic contrasts sharply with that of non-refugee children, with 92 percent receiving primary school education. From 2017 to 2018, the number of unenrolled primary-school-age refugee children rose to a total of four million.
  4. Teachers: UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics calculates that ensuring primary education access for all requires roughly 24.4 million more primary school teachers. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers a scarcity of primary school teachers in more than 70 percent of its constituent nation-states. South Asia falls directly behind Sub-Saharan Africa in its primary school teacher scarcity crisis, requiring approximately four million more teachers by 2030 to attain the goal of universal primary education.
  5. Disabled Children: A UNESCO study of 37 countries determined that children with disabilities face a greater likelihood than their non-disabled peers of total exclusion from primary school and are more likely to experience fewer years enrolled in school and suffer major literacy deficits. These disadvantages are more likely to afflict disabled girls, thus sharpening gender asymmetries. Of the studied countries, Cambodia exhibited the most dramatic gap between disabled students and their peers, with 57 percent of the former unenrolled compared to 7 percent of the latter.
  6. Gender Parity Improvements: Data suggests improvements in gender parity in access to primary education. Sub-Saharan Africa features a 2 percent gap between the genders in non-delayed access to primary education, with 29 percent of girls unenrolled compared to 27 percent of boys. However, of children two or more years above the standard enrollment age, girls remain at a disadvantage compared to boys, attesting to the persistent influence of gender expectations on access to primary education.
  7. Violence and Exploitation: Children deprived of access to primary education risk a greater likelihood of suffering violence and exploitation. Where educational deprivation results from conflict or natural catastrophe, the danger of child trafficking intensifies. Conflict and natural disasters impeded educational access for approximately 39 million girls in 2015. As girls face a greater likelihood of impeded educational access than boys in conflict-ridden or disaster-affected regions, girls likewise face an increased risk of child trafficking out of proportion with their population percentage.
  8. Education Cannot Wait (ECW): On December 11, 2019, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) announced a $64 million educational funding initiative in the conflict-ridden countries of Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria. Though targeting affected youth of all backgrounds, this project places particular focus on girls, disabled children and refugees. This initiative will facilitate teacher training and student enrollment in vulnerable regions. Ultimately, this project anticipates the mobilization of governments, NGOs and civilians for the growth and maintenance of secure and effective educational sectors.
  9. The LEGO Foundation: The LEGO Foundation announced a grant of $100 million on December 10, 2019, for an early learning solutions initiative targeting crisis-affected groups in Ethiopia and Uganda. Play-oriented learning programs will improve the skill sets of both primary-school-aged and pre-school children. These play-oriented learning strategies assist children in surmounting trauma that may otherwise impede their scholastic potential. Roughly 800,000 children will benefit from this project.
  10. The Global Partnership for Education: December 10, 2019, witnessed the grant of $100 million by The Global Partnership for Education for educational initiatives across Asia and Africa. Burkina Faso, for instance, plans investment of its four-year GPE grant of $21 million toward improving primary school enrollment and developing pedagogical infrastructure. The investment of $21 million in Somalia’s Somaliland region seeks to rectify gender imparity in access to primary education.

Access to primary education provides the foundation upon which the talents of a nation’s youth may grow. Moreover, there exists a strong relationship between primary education and the promotion of such values as gender equality and social mobility. Although an indispensable institution in the contemporary age, crises both man-made and natural threaten primary education across continents. Fortunately, initiatives involving NGOs and governments promise to overcome these impediments, the importance of primary education weighs more as a right rather than a mere privilege.

– Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Flickr

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

Eight Facts About Education in Venezuela
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, located on the northern coast of South America, is well-known for its education system. For many years, Venezuela was the pinnacle of education in the region for decades, but following recent political and economic crises, the education system has suffered greatly. Here are eight facts about education in Venezuela.

8 Facts About Education in Venezuela

  1. The School System: School for all children between ages 6 and 15 is mandatory and free. Under the country’s 1999 constitution, higher education is still free throughout the country, although not many pursue it. The education system shows astonishingly low levels of discrimination on social grounds as well, boasting nearly equal enrollment rates of male and female students.
  2. Higher Education: There are 90 institutions of higher education in Venezuela. Most students come from the wealthiest 20 percent of the population since less-wealthy students may have to get jobs immediately. Universities feature a universal entrance exam that they use to boost enrollments in the millions nationwide. In 2017, only 44,000 enrolled at the University of Carabobo, compared to 56,000 10 years before.
  3. School Attendance: In addition to a drop in college enrollments, many children have dropped out of regular school as well. In 2013, there were only around 254,709 school-age children and adolescents who did not attend the free schools. According to a 2019 UNESCO study, the numbers reached 557,327, which is more than doubled compared to just six years ago. Children and adolescents have poor attendance because there is a lack of water and food at school and at home, and are all side effects of the current economic issues in the country.
  4. Colombia’s Education System: Many of the primary-school-age children not attending Venezuelan schools are instead trekking across the Colombian border to attend classes there. The mass influx of students is placing a strain on Colombia’s education system.
  5. Absence of Teachers: Many teachers are also quitting. As of 2018, the average teacher in Venezuela currently makes the equivalent of $10-30 USD a month, which is below the poverty level. This makes teaching a much less desirable profession, forcing teaching positions to fall to new graduates and other professionals that do not have the qualifications to teach.
  6.  Studying Abroad: The U.S.-Venezualan relations have harmed study abroad prospectives for Venezuelan students. Following the U.S. travel ban that has impacted countries such as Venezuela and Yemen, many students have been unable to obtain student visas to study in the United States. While the ban does not prevent students from applying to institutions in the U.S., it puts their applications under scrutiny, leading many to pursue an education in other countries.
  7. Literacy Rate: On the bright side of these eight facts about education in Venezuela, 97.13 percent of Venezuelans over the age of 15 can read and write. This is the highest literacy rate in the entire region.
  8. Foreign Aid and Nonprofits: As of 2019, Venezuelan President Maduro conceded to requesting foreign aid, which gives countries in the United Nations the ability to help with the economic crisis at large, despite the fact that most of the money will not go to education specifically. Within the country, organizations, such as Cuatro Por Venezuela, provide the aid they can. Cuatro Por Venezuela provided over 480,000 individual meals from 2017 to 2019, and are still doing more.

To conclude these eight facts about education in Venezuela, one should note that the main reason Venezuela’s education system was so successful in the past is because of the amount of resources it dedicated to it. The country has not changed this and combined with the worldwide collective desire to ensure the protection of education as a right, it should have a hopeful future.

– Anna Langlois
Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts About Education in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the leaders in education within the European Union. With a national initiative to have accessible education to all of its citizens, the Swiss education system ranks number six on the Study E.U. education ranking of 2018. So what exactly is it that allows for such a praiseworthy education system? These eight facts about education in Switzerland show why the country is so successful in the education of its people.

8 Facts About Education in Switzerland

  1. Canton School Systems: Each canton – a Swiss state – has primary responsibility for how the schools in their area are run. Effectively each canton runs their own education system, though there is an overruling federal educational system: The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Each canton can create its own structures such as school calendars and education plans. There is, however, an agreement among the cantons to keep a baseline level of continuity. This opens individuals up to the ability to shop the public schools that fit their own and their child’s needs.
  2. International Schools: Switzerland has a host of schools that cater to international families, operate bilingually or are privatized. This creates a smoother transition for English speaking individuals who can then benefit from education in Switzerland.
  3. Number of Schools: There are currently around 44 schools in Switzerland that specifically accommodate international students and are a part of the Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS). This schooling goes from primary up to secondary and offers both day and boarding options. Many of the schools follow the Swiss canton curriculum, but many also provide curriculums based on the individual’s home country.
  4. Homeschooling: Homeschooling is not a common practice within Switzerland; some cantons have even outlawed it. In August 2019, the Swiss supreme court rejected a mother’s appeal to the right to homeschool her child. It declared “the right to private life does not confer any right to private home education.” The court also stated that the cantons have the right to decide what forms of schooling they will allow and are in the best interest of the children that reside within their districts. Only 1,000 children receive homeschooling throughout all of Switzerland, a country with more than 8.5 million citizens. Many are against homeschooling in Switzerland because they believe it to be a deprivation to the child’s social education. They believe that a child can only achieve this through daily peer interactions. Further, many believe that homeschooling causes inequality within society because not every family can afford its costs.
  5. Compulsory Education: Education in Switzerland is compulsory for all who reside in the country, regardless of legal residency status. Though it varies by canton, most children have mandatory education for 9 to 11 years. Children begin schooling anywhere from ages 4 to 6 and must stay in school until about the age of 15. Education is typically more sympathetic to the individual in Switzerland. Switzerland has adopted the idea that every child learns differently and requires different support structures within school.
  6. Formal, Vocational and Apprenticeship Training: After their compulsory education, children have the option to continue on with formal education or begin vocational and apprenticeship training. Even though attending a university is comparably more affordable in Switzerland than in other countries, many students opt for vocational and apprenticeship education. Apprenticeships and vocational training can last anywhere from two to four years and can equate to a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. This depends on the duration and weekly hours of involvement in the individual’s education.
  7. Specialized Education: Special education in Switzerland is a right. Specialized education professionals give individuals living with special needs free support until the age of 20. The cantons vary but typically offer special needs students access to both mainstream schools and special needs schools. The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (EASIE) assesses children before entering the special education system. It does this in order to determine and advise parents on what may be best for their child. Switzerland joined the EASIE in 2000 in an attempt to better integrate its special needs citizens into mainstream society.
  8. Free Schooling: Schooling is free—kind of. Though compulsory education is free, it does equate to higher taxes for citizens. Further, schools often ask many parents to help with providing school utensils for the classrooms. Many argue that Switzerland’s excellent educational system is because of the country’s vast amount of wealth and higher tax rates. After all, in 2019, a global report listed Switzerland as the wealthiest country in the world, accounting for 2.3 percent of the world’s top 1 percent of global wealth.

Switzerland’s educational system is the ultimate goal for what education should be across the world. These eight facts about education in Switzerland show how the country is striving to create a more learned and prosperous future for its youth. Switzerland is a fantastic example of a country that has met the fourth goal on the global goals for sustainable development: quality education.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr

Keep Young Girls in School
CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), a nonprofit providing unprecedented opportunity to young girls in the sub-Saharan regions of Africa, emerged in 1993. According to a study by the World Literacy Foundation in 2015, of the 781 million illiterate people around the world, two-thirds of the people within that total are women. CAMFED is an organization working on keeping young girls in school by helping alleviate the financial burdens of families that want to give their daughters education but may not have the means to.

CAMFED’s Motivation

Upon the organization’s origin in Zimbabwe, it provided financial support for 32 girls, inevitably keeping young girls in school. The initial purpose of the nonprofit was to showcase that if poverty was no longer an obstacle, the cultural norms would become nonexistent, and girls would attend school alongside boys if given the opportunity. This purpose still lies at the forefront of the nonprofit’s premise and has helped it grow exponentially over the past 26 years.

CAMFED’s IMPACT

As of 2019, CAMFED has already supported 3.3 million girls in school across sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly 6 million benefiting from an improved educational environment. It supported approximately 52,700 children through primary school just in 2018 alone, in addition to the 64,700 supported through secondary schools. The girls’ communities choose them to become a part of the program because they know better than anyone which girls are the most vulnerable and deserving of the organization’s help.

CAMPED’s work extends far beyond the realm of the classroom, however. It provides uniforms, school supplies and sanitary products to support each girl to the full extent that it can. The organization is unique in the sense that it personally invests in the welfare and success of each girl that it takes under its wing. The organization also helps the girls find jobs upon graduation, and while a majority of the women have gone on to become teachers or doctors, many have started their own businesses. The girls that were a part of the first group still involve themselves in the organization and have founded the CAMA alumnae network, which now has grown to 138,000 members. It is a way for them to mentor young women and advocate for the program that changed their lives for the better.

CAMFED and Michelle Obama

The organization is primarily internationally based and has offices in the U.S.A, Canada and the United Kingdom. It receives most of its funds from various government contributions and large statutory organizations, but also receives support from individuals. In October 2018, former first lady Michelle Obama welcomed the CAMFED alumnae chapter, CAMA, to the Global Girls Alliance. It was her first major acquisition of a program that she made for the Obama Foundation and a momentous one for the nonprofit. The organization exists on the premise of the rights of women as grassroots leaders and the importance of keeping young girls in school to help alleviate the obstacles that a majority of women around the world are facing.

– Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Flickr

BubzBeauty Helps Build Schools
Pencils of Promise is a nonprofit organization that emerged in 2008. Since then, it has built 512 schools in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos, and has helped 102,215 children obtain a quality education in those countries. Not only does the organization raise money for schools, but it also has programs to help support teachers working at and students attending these schools. Through Pencils of Promise, YouTuber BubzBeauty helps build schools in its three countries of interest.

BubzBeauty’s Involvement with Pencils of Promise

On August 8, 2015, Lindy “Bubz” Tsang announced her first campaign with Pencils of Promise to raise $50,000 to build two schools in Laos. She felt compelled to use her YouTube platform and large following to help children in poverty obtain an education and better their lives. For this first fundraiser, Bubz designed a sweatshirt for her subscribers to purchase; 100 percent of all proceeds went toward the school fund.

It was a huge success, and on January 18, 2016, Bubz released a vlog of her visit to one of the two schools, named Beauty of Knowledge. The name was a tribute to her beauty channel on YouTube, since it and its subscribers were what made the building of the school possible. As Bubz says in her vlog, “beauty doesn’t have to be just about makeup and skincare. Beauty is also knowledge.”

Building Schools in Laos and Ghana

Before the building of the new schools, the kids in Tad Thong, Laos went to school in a temporary classroom structure made from bamboo with a makeshift roof. There was no way for it to support all the children coming to attend, so the school held six grades in only three classrooms. In Saen Oudom, Laos, children also attended school in extremely poor conditions, with the building having a leaky roof and many safety hazards. Thanks to Bubz, both towns have a safe space for the kids’ education to continue and thrive. Tad Thong now has a five-classroom school and Saen Oudom a three-classroom school.

Since then, Bubz has raised money to build a total of five schools, ultimately impacting a total of 3,469 children around the world. Bubz and her beauty community have helped construct two schools in Laos and three in Ghana. The Ghana fundraiser gained monetary aid from another shirt design with all profits going toward the campaign. Additionally, Bubz created an eye shadow palette where $2 from each one sold went toward the fund. Here is a list of the three areas Bubz has helped:

  • Atravenu, Ghana: Four grades were sharing two classrooms in a chapel. This proved to be a distracting environment for both teachers and students, hindering the education process.

  • Kpando Torkor, Ghana: The school building had unfinished classrooms. The first and second graders were in the most unsafe rooms and the 91 students attending caused overcrowding, a safety hazard.

  • Mafi Agorve, Ghana: Children were attending school in makeshift structures that did not include windows or doors. This exposed them to harsh sunlight throughout the day and outdoor distractions.

With Bubz’s help, all three towns were able to build a three-unit class structure, and Kpando Torkor was also able to renovate its already existing classrooms.

Plans for the Future

In the description of her most recent update video on the schools (May 10, 2019), Bubz wrote, “When we build schools, we’re not just building a physical structure, we also build up a child’s confidence, dreams and goals. We build up communities’ potential and standard of life.” Bubz’s campaigns through BubzBeauty not only helps build schools but also helps the communities surrounding those schools flourish more than they would have without her help. Education leads to a better life for these children and brighter futures for the countries.

Even present day, BubzBeauty helps build schools with Pencils of Promise. In May 2019, she announced that profits from her formulated lipstick would go toward a fund to raise money to build a school in Guatemala.

“Not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear lipstick.” — Lindy Tsang

– Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr

Building Schools Using Recycled Plastics
Education in Cote d’Ivoire continues to be a major challenge in the country which has had a literacy rate of 53.02 percent among 15 to 24-year-olds as of 2014. In fact, more than 2 million children are out of school due to a lack of infrastructure. Classrooms are often full beyond capacity with more than 100 students. Fortunately, West Africa is building schools using recycled plastics as a ground-breaking initiative to change the status quo.

The Fighting Women

Abidjan, a city in Cote d’Ivoire, produces about 288 tons of plastic waste every day. The country recycles only 5 percent of the waste, and when it is, it is usually women that do so informally. These women recover the waste and use it to make money.

A women’s group called The Fighting Women makes a living from collecting plastic and selling it for recycling. However, The Fighting Women is now a part of a project that will not only clean up the environment but will also help improve education. The Fighting Women is an organization of 200 women that collect plastic. A woman named Mariam Coulibaly runs the organization and she has been collecting trash for 20 years. Coulibaly’s organizational skills are what made the project possible. The plastic that these women collect go into bricks in order to build schools.

Conceptos Plasticos

UNICEF in Cote d’Ivoire has partnered with Conceptos Plasticos, a for-profit plastic recycling Colombian company that will turn plastic to bricks and build schools for children. This project will help reduce the issue of overcrowded classrooms and give children the opportunity to attend school.

In 2018, the first African recycled plastic classroom emerged in Gonzagueville. It only took five days to build this classroom as opposed to the nine months it would take to build traditional classrooms. In addition, within the first year, two small farming villages, Sakassou and Divo, constructed nine demonstration classrooms. These new classrooms included bricks that are cheaper and lighter than traditional ones, and also last longer.

Before the new plastic classrooms, children would go to school in traditional mud-brick and wood buildings. The mud-brick would erode from the sun and rain, and require repairs constantly. However, the newly built plastic classrooms are way better and longer-lasting. The classrooms are fire retardant and stay cool in warm weather. In addition, the classrooms are waterproof, have excellent insulation and can fight off the heavy wind. UNICEF and Conceptos Plasticos are planning to build 500 classrooms for more than 25,000 children with the most urgent need in the next two years.

Further Success of the Project

On July 29, 2019, a plastic converting factory opened in Cote d’Ivoire, which is also the first of its kind. This factory produces easy to assemble, durable and low-cost bricks others can use to build classrooms. The factory will solve a lot of major education challenges that children in West Africa face. According to UNICEF, kindergarteners from poor areas will be able to join classrooms with less than 100 students for the first time. Once the factory is fully functioning, it will recycle 9,600 tons of plastic waste a year and provide a source of income for women that collect trash. Moreover, there are plans to expand this project to other countries where there is a high percentage of children that are out of school.

Now, children are able to sit comfortably in classes that were once too overcrowded. This project of building schools using recycled plastics has not only constructed classrooms, but it has also reduced plastic waste in the environment. Although there is still a large number of children out of schools, this innovative project to help build schools in West Africa has been tremendously successful and has impacted the lives of many women and children.

Merna Ibrahim
Photo: Flickr

Orphans in Tanzania
Team Nelson is a nonprofit organization based out of Atlanta, GA that works to send orphans in Tanzania to school. In 2017, there was a 79 percent net enrollment rate in primary school but only a 23 percent net enrollment rate in secondary school. After primary school, many teenagers have to find work to help provide for their families, so retention is a huge issue in secondary school. Many of the orphanages in Arusha, Tanzania lack the funds to send their children to school, so McCrea O’Haire and her board began to raise money to send the first boy she met, Nelson, to school. From there, it grew.

Team Nelson has been successfully raising money and awareness in order to send more Tanzanian orphans to school. The organization also encourages kids to prioritize their education and reap the greater benefits of completing their education instead of leaving to find work. The Borgen Project had the opportunity to interview McCrea O’Haire about Team Nelson about sending orphans to school in Tanzania.

Who is Nelson?

Nelson is one of the first kids that O’Haire met in Tanzania and the inspiration behind Team Nelson. Upon first meeting him, she recalls him having a reserved and shy nature, as he was just trying to blend in with the other children. It was not until she learned of his situation that she saw him for who he really was and “realized how important it is to help the invisible children that people might not notice.” She eventually decided to transform Team Nelson into much more than just one child. Originally, she did not intend to do anything other than sending Nelson to school, but she received an outpour of support from family and friends which snowballed her intentions. Once she felt the support around her, she had the inspiration to do more.

The Future of Team Nelson

In running this nonprofit, O’Haire cites two main challenges. Firstly, everyone in the organization also works full-time jobs and have careers, so there are many difficult compromises that it must make. Secondly, there are always language barriers and cultural differences her team encounters when they visit Arusha. She cites their desire “to help people living across the world while not interrupting their cultural flow or offending anyone,” noting that this is not always easy.

Within the next five years, O’Haire hopes the organization continues its current trajectory. In the past year and a half, it has been able to send 18 children to school, so in five years, it would like to send around 50 or more kids. One of her favorite things about Team Nelson is the “one to one love” that they currently have. She wants to help as many kids as possible but also does not want the program to include thousands of kids that members of the organization have never met.

Addressing Systemic Issues in Tanzania

AIDS killed Nelson’s mother and alcoholism afflicted his father. His family alone represents a larger, systematic issue resulting in the death of many parents and caretakers in Tanzania, which has left about 3.1 million orphans in Tanzania. O’Haire cites this problem as one of the main reasons she and her team decided to create Team Nelson; “A lot of the problems in Tanzania revolve around offering more opportunities for education and helping the children further their lives with increased resources and tools.” She emphasizes the importance of sexual health education that children receive in school and the need for recurring doctor’s appointments.

If the government continues to receive pressure to employ more top-down approaches, she says, there will be drastic improvements in health and education. Fortunately, the Tanzanian government recently decided to make all lower-secondary education free in order to retain more students, as there are currently 1.5 million adolescents that are not in school.

Although it is quite difficult to live in rural Tanzania right now, O’Haire underscores the positivity of everyone she has met there. Prior to her trips there, she prepares herself to be the beacon of hope and energy that they may need but quickly reminds herself that Tanzanians are a happy group. In hard times, she reminds herself of the objectives of Team Nelson, which is sending children to school. She must often turn down requests but notes the importance of staying focused on her organization’s goals and trust in that impact.

If you would like to help Team Nelson and the orphans in Tanzania, O’Haire encourages a monthly donation of just $10, which directly contributes to getting children an education. In the case that providing a financial contribution is not possible, she hopes that “people will spread the word about this cause and really care about the problems our world is facing.”

To learn more, please visit https://www.weareteamnelson.com/.

– Jessica Haidet
Photo: Flickr

Education in South Korea

South Korea has long led the pack in terms of academic benchmarks. However, when addressing academic performance, analysts explain that emphasis should be placed on the achievements of individual students rather than giving credit to a loosely-defined education system that valorizes bureaucracy rather than pupils. In the end, South Korean scholars practice extreme self-discipline and must cope with acute stress to maximize their academic performance and to carry South Korea to the forefront of global education rankings. These eight facts about education in South Korea catch a glimpse into the life of students and the rigorous curriculum.

8 Facts about Education in South Korea

  1. Schooling is compulsory in South Korea until the age of 15. Pupils begin their education at 6-years-old when they attend primary school. When they reach 12-years-old, they transition to a lower secondary school for three years. At 15-years-old, South Korean students decide to continue their education by completing an entrance exam and committing to an Academic Senior Secondary School or a Vocational Senior Secondary School.
  2. In 2012, South Korea offered free half-day kindergartens for children of ages 3-5. Parents also have the option of enrolling their children in tuition-based private preschools, although the former option is becoming more popular. At a rate surpassing 90 percent, enrollment in early childhood education is very high compared to the rest of the world.
  3. Before attending a university, South Korean students enrolled in secondary school must take the suneung, the extremely rigorous and fateful college entrance exam that largely governs one’s future. On the day of the suneung, flight paths are diverted around testing centers to prevent test-takers from losing focus on the exam. Months, and even years leading up to the suneung, parents will enroll their children in weekend and after-school test preparatory academies called hagwons. These are notoriously referred to as cram houses.
  4. Discipline serves as the bedrock of education in South Korea. Students are obliged to rise and bow when their teachers enter the classroom, and South Koreans generally tend to have enormous respect for their mentors. Along with principal subjects such as science, mathematics and language, civil morality is a central pillar manifested in curricula throughout the entirety of compulsory schooling.
  5. A strongly-rooted cultural emphasis on discipline becomes blurred with the stress epidemic. The typical school day in South Korea begins at 8 a.m. and ends around 5 p.m., and following a short break at home, many students return to school libraries or hagwons to study into the later hours of the evening, sometimes even until midnight.  The stresses of attaining educational achievement sometimes reap fatal outcomes; in South Korea, suicide is the leading cause of death among teenagers.
  6. South Korean students consistently perform among the best in the world, according to statistics of standardized test scores and college drop-out rates. Although the South Korean education system placed third in the world during the first quarter of 2019, it was ranked as the best in the world for four consecutive years from 2013-2017.
  7. Alongside learning subjects such as basic Korean language and mathematics, students in grades one and two take subjects that reaffirm South Korean values that emphasize happiness and discipline, such as “Good Life,” “Happy Life” and “Wise Life.”
  8. Following major reforms beginning in 1995, education in South Korea has been transitioning from focusing on optimizing standardized test results and cramming students for college entrance exams to implementing a new curriculum that incorporates the humanities and realities of a globalized world. Class lectures emphasize community and global citizenry, and teachers underscore the importance of learning about new cultures and foreign intellect.

These eight facts about education in South Korea show mixed results for students. South Korean students have incredible performance rates, yet they are also susceptible to high stress-induced suicide rates. It is worth taking a critical look at their curriculum to better understand what works and what doesn’t.

– Grayson Cox
Photo: Flickr