work that supports education in the PhilippinesThough the Philippines’ schooling system has significantly evolved in past years, many Filipinos still find challenges in receiving a quality education. The World Bank believes that increasing education opportunities could economically benefit the Philippines as well. Here is a list of work that supports education in the Philippines.

  1. PETC Workers Help Repair a Philippine School
    On July 1, 2016, the Lear Philippine Engineering and Technology Center (PETC) reported its work to support the Philippines’ “Brigade Eskwela” (Brigade for Education). Seventy engineers and associates painted a wall and classroom at Maguikay Elementary school. The volunteers also repaired some of the classroom’s amenities. The PETC put up a donation box at the school and received books, four sets of wall fans and $150 in contributions for incoming students’ school supplies.
  2. The Philippines’ Successful K-12 Reform
    In August 2016, the Philippines’ long-running K-12 education reform efforts helped 1.5 million students attend eleventh grade for the first time. The Philippines’ new K-12 law adds two years of senior high school, eleventh and twelfth grade, to the country’s required education system.
    Contrary to the number of students who completed the tenth grade in 2015, almost 50,000 more enrolled in the new eleventh grade for 2016. The change was especially significant since the Philippines was originally one of a few countries with a 10-year basic education system.
  3. UNESCO Helps the Philippines’ Department of Education
    In September 2016, UNESCO met with the Philippines’ Department of Education and thanked it for its continued cooperation in various activities. Dr. Leonor Magtolis, the department’s secretary, thanked UNESCO for its work that supports education in the Philippines. Magtolis also thanked UNESCO for its initiative to start an alternative learning system (ALS) for the Philippines. Magtolis believed that an ALS would be especially helpful for Filipino school children in rehabilitation centers.
  4. The Philippines’ Zero Dropout Education Scheme
    In December 2016, the Ernst and Young (EY) firm revealed its support for the Philippines’ Zero Dropout Education Scheme (ZeDrES). From 2011 to 2016, ZeDrES ensured that 250,000 Filipino children from low-income families could enroll in and complete primary education, providing them with microloans to afford their expenses. EY’s team audits ZeDrES’s financial statements and assesses its delivery and impact.
  5. The Success of USAID’s STRIDE Program
    In September 2013, USAID awarded RTI International a cooperative agreement called Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) that would enhance the Philippines’ economic and educational sector. In April 2017, STRIDE awarded $5 million in technology, collaborative science and research grants to more than 20 million Philippine universities. In addition to awarding 46 scholarships to help Filipinos study in U.S. universities, STRIDE is creating technology offices in 36 Philippine universities.
  6. Free Tuition for 100 Philippine Colleges
    In August 2017, President Rodrigo Duerte signed a bill that grants free tuition for 100 colleges and state universities in the Philippines. Though President Duerte knew that the new law would have heavy short-term costs, he was more focused on its long-term benefits to Philippine students. A senior official said that the new law will benefit the Philippines’ local tertiary schools as well. “Now I can finish my college education. It means hard work,” said Angela Rebato, a student from Quezon City.

Volunteer work, funding and free tuition can continue to help Philippine students break educational barriers. PETC, UNESCO, USAID and other entities continue to inspire more work that supports education in the Philippines as well.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr


Brunei Darussalam, better known as Brunei, is an absolute monarchy-based country located in Southeastern Asia, around the coast of Borneo and bordering Malaysia. The country is mostly known by its high economy levels, based on the exportation of oil and natural gas.

It is one of the nations with the most influence around the world, due to its economy and exportation materials, leading Brunei to be an extremely rich land. Brunei is led by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, which has brought an extreme version of government to the country. With the imposition of sharia law, the Sultan’s political views and ways to rule Brunei have been widely criticized across the world. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah marked 50 years of ruling Brunei this past Oct. 5, 2017.

Regardless, the Sultan’s criticized way of governing the country has not had any major negative impacts on the schooling system and education in Brunei. In fact, Brunei’s education has been positively affected within the past decade, when the country joined UNESCO in 2005.

Education in Brunei took a turning point when it was included as a part of a worldwide-known organization called Education For All (EFA). EFA is an initiative geared towards expanding early childhood education, increasing adult literacy and promoting learning skills for both young people and adults.

Based on the British education system, Brunei divides its education into three levels. The first one, the pre-primary level, is meant to teach children from age three to five. Pre-primary schooling follows the EFA initiative of introducing education as early as possible. The primary level follows the pre-primary level. This second education stage is six years long and introduces the national language of Malay as well as English. As a final level, secondary school is focused on preparing students for a college-like education. It can also be considered a pre-university level.

Brunei has a particular education system that seems to please the country’s citizens. The fact is that not only is schooling organized and something everyone can afford, but there are different options for students who might want to study not-so-traditional career paths.

Vocational education is a special schooling system which includes technical and craft colleges; agriculture, nursing, teaching and more are taught in this level of education.

Education in Brunei can also be classified within two categories: the first one being nongovernmental schools, or private schools and the second one being government-based school, or public schools.

Brunei has an exemplary education system. Different options, education levels, and a wide range of universities, technical colleges, institutes and more provide different choices for Brunei’s citizens. Organizations such as EFA are working tirelessly in order to have a positive impact on education in Brunei so that it may improve in the future.

Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

STEM EducationWomen in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields have been coming in a distant second to their male counterparts for the entirety of STEM’s history.

Since Marie Curie was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1903, only 17 women have won a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry or medicine. This number is drastically lower than the 572 men who have won Nobel Prizes in that time.

Additionally, only 28 percent of researchers worldwide are women. This immense gender gap has motivated people across the world to alleviate the adversity women continue to face in the STEM world.

Among these is Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, who has recognized that many countries hold girls back at a young age due to discrimination, biases and social norms and expectations.

Because girls are turned away from the quality STEM education that boys have access to, girls tend to lose interest in these subjects between early and late adolescence.

At the Cracking the Code: Girls’ Education in STEM conference in Bangkok from August 28-30, officials discussed this gender gap and the ways it can be improved.

Currently, only 35 percent of college students enrolled in STEM-related fields are female, which is undoubtedly low because of the lack of STEM opportunities for girls throughout primary and secondary school.

Progress has been made in some countries, known as “model countries”, that are fighting this gender gap. Malaysia has partnered with UNESCO to achieve gender parity, which has led to 57 percent of degrees in science-related fields being held by women.

Malaysia and UNESCO are working in the global south and several African countries to improve STEM education opportunities for girls. Schools across the globe are being encouraged to pay more attention to female students and provide curriculum and other learning materials that stray from the stereotypical masculinity of sciences.

Support for girls pursuing a STEM education starts at home. Family biases and gender norms are a big contributor to the low number of females in STEM-related fields.

Thus, it is increasingly important for families to encourage young girls to join science and math-related activities and clubs outside of the classroom. Science and math clubs, competitions and camps are a great source of empowerment for girls in STEM education.

While UNESCO and model countries are working to eliminate the gender gap in STEM, it takes the support of educators and role models globally to change the fate of female students.

Kassidy Tarala

Photo: Flickr

 

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Learn about the Protecting Girls Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act.

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Education in MoroccoSince Morocco’s independence in 1956, its education system has typically been described as frustrating and disappointing. In recent years, Morocco has made numerous improvements and committed to solidifying the quality of its education system. Here are five facts about education in Morocco.

  1. The academic year begins in September and ends in June. The school system is structured into three separate parts. Primary takes students starting at the age of 6 and educates them until the age of 12. Secondary and tertiary last another three years each. Morocco also offers educational options beyond public schooling with higher learning institutions.
  2. Learning and knowledge are typically measured through literacy, the ability to read and write. Reading and writing are essential to reaching higher levels of education and scoring well on national performance tests. Morocco’s youth have made tremendous strides in increasing their literacy rates. The World Bank reports 95 percent of youth ages 15-24 years old can effectively read and write. This is an increase from 81.5 percent in 2011.
  3. Men in Morocco currently dominate the gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary education systems. The UNESCO chart for secondary education shows that male enrollment exceeded female enrollment by 10.8 percent in 2012. However, tables for 2015 show a decreased gap in admission ratio for primary and tertiary education.
  4. Public spending on education has been significantly rising in Morocco. According to the OCP Policy Center, government spending on education in 2014 was about 5.9 percent of GDP and 21.3 percent of total government spending. Since 2002, payments have been increasing by more than 5 percent per year almost every year. One analysis from the International Monetary Fund confirms a more organized use of this money has the potential to lead standardized test scores to increase by 53 points.
  5. Morocco suffers from low-quality education as reflected in performance indicators. In a 2014 update completed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Morocco ranks in the thirtieth percentile for learning compared to other countries. The most recent PIRLS and TIMSS assessment results for 2011 showcase just how poor Morocco’s performance is. Test results reveal Morocco ranks second to last in math and last in reading compared to the 36 countries participating.

The good news is that experts and policymakers have fully recognized the remaining barriers for education in Morocco. A way forward has also been identified through their 2015-2030 Vision for Education in Morocco. The plan will address previous failures by targeting four specific areas including the priority for quality education. The country has already partnered with the USAID to make some of these goals a reality. So far 12,000 students have been reached with a new reading method and over 340 teachers have been trained on new reading instruction.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

What Does UNESCO Stand For?The organization UNESCO is a crucial part of any discussion of peace and unity among foreign powers. However, few people know the mission of this global organization, let alone its role in decreasing global poverty. So, what does UNESCO stand for?

UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. According to the organization’s official website, it is responsible for fostering transnational ties in the areas of scientific advancements, equality in education, cultural development and freedom of expression.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the organization, UNESCO is able to effect change through a variety of platforms and to reach many populations. UNESCO’s extensive reach allows it to have a considerable influence on global issues, namely global poverty.

UNESCO defines the effects of poverty not only in terms of the economic disadvantage but also in terms of social, political and cultural hardships. UNESCO not only advocates for individuals living in absolute poverty but also for those suffering social exclusion and isolation as a result of relative poverty.

What does UNESCO stand for in terms of forming global alliances? UNESCO addresses these indirect consequences of poverty in several of its recent campaigns and goals. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was the most recent proposal by UNESCO to counteract the repercussions of poverty in the global community.

In this document, UNESCO identifies extreme poverty as the greatest global challenge to sustainable development and emphasizes several targets to focus on in the next 15 years, including peace, prosperity and partnership. This campaign contributed to an international alliance to end extreme poverty and set up time-bound goals that hold constituents of the U.N. accountable for their pieces of the partnership.

These goals prioritize the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, education reform, women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability and several economic growth initiatives. The U.N. hopes to fulfill them by 2030.

In addition to providing resource-poor areas with necessities, UNESCO promotes a “culture of peace.” In order to establish this culture, the organization pushes for international cooperation through Water for Peace programs as well as geopark and biosphere reserve management. Another UNESCO priority is engaging community members by providing human rights education and sustainable development training.

One peace promotion and cultural inclusion strategy that UNESCO uses is funding and protecting World Heritage Sites. These sites are selected for their cultural, scientific or historical significance. The organization’s ultimate goals in protecting these sites are encouraging peacefulness in the present and contributing to these sites’ posterity. The Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House and Jerusalem, to name a few, meet World Heritage Site classification criteria.

What does UNESCO stand for? Over the years, UNESCO has contributed to a number of diverse campaigns, but its overarching mission remains the same. UNESCO stands for human rights advocacy, social inclusion and allowing every human being to fulfill his or her full potential with dignity and equality. These values will continue to be included in the organization’s agenda and initiatives.

Sarah Coiro

Photo: Flickr


Forty percent of Turkmenistan’s population is under the age of 15, which according to UNICEF provides the country with an opportunity for growth if this young population is able to receive a good education. However, they also recognize that this growing population could be a problem for the country if the quality of education in Turkmenistan begins to decline. It is important for the school systems to continue to grow over the coming years to prepare for this rising generation of students.

In order to ensure the continuation of this necessary growth, the country’s government has partnered with UNICEF to create an educational review program to monitor the progress of schools. They are working to analyze the needs of schools and make necessary improvements to their programs. These improvements appear to be making an impact in the nation since there is a 97 percent attendance rating in primary schools.

However, secondary schools have a lower attendance rate of 85 percent and for pre-primary schools, this number is even lower. This lack of attendance is due to the lack of school buildings and the deterioration of current ones. A UNICEF report states, that as more buildings become unusable, attendance rates will decrease.

According to UNESCO, the literary rate for ages 15 and up in Turkmenistan is almost 100 percent for both sexes. In addition, data from UNICEF indicates that education in Turkmenistan is in a state of equity, with no enrollment gaps between genders or across social classes. Education in Turkmenistan is now mandatory for students ages six to 17 and this is making a great impact, according to UNESCO.

This is because the rate of illiterate members in the population ages 15 and older have been steadily declining. There are half as many illiterate adults as there were in 1995, according to a UNESCO report on literacy and education in Turkmenistan. Despite many improvements in education over the last few decades, UNICEF warns that the government needs to work to assure that these improvements are not lost due to issues that the country is facing, particularly as it pertains to the lack of facilities that can be turned into schools.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr


The education system in Trinidad and Tobago is one of the government’s highest priorities, and the country has an outstanding reputation in this regard. As of 2015, the country had a literacy rate of 96.9 percent according to UNESCO statistics and has steadily grown since the early nineties.

Education in Trinidad and Tobago is free and compulsory but accessible from the preschool age of three which is considered non-mandatory. After the completion of secondary school, students are given the option of staying on for an additional two years of high school which can lead to an advanced proficiency certificate and entry into a tertiary institution.

University in Trinidad and Tobago is free at the undergraduate degree and only approved at the University of the West Indies, the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of the Southern Caribbean. The government of Trinidad and Tobago also provides subsidies for some master’s programs making education in Trinidad and Tobago the best in the Caribbean.

In 2007, Trinidad and Tobago commenced a pilot study to focus on children with special needs outside of partnering with private preschools to develop four models that address childhood education.

Education in Trinidad and Tobago is considered one of the country’s greatest strengths and is very multi-faceted. Trinidad’s education sector stands out among emerging markets and ranks on the global competitiveness report. According to the OECD PISA score of Trinidad and Tobago, girls perform significantly better than boys statistically. A lot of students has also repeated a grade compared to other countries and economies also participating in PISA.

While education in Trinidad and Tobago has seen great improvement, particularly in curriculum design and strategic policy, the Ministry of Education and major stakeholders continue to be more innovative in their efforts to create a highly skilled, knowledgeable workforce.

Education is Trinidad and Tobago is considered one the most important development tools for the country.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

UNESCO and Worldreader are providing mobile devices to fight illiteracy. According to UNESCO there is direct relationship between poverty and illiteracy. People living below the poverty line and those who are illiterate are in the same portion of the population. Increasing the availability of books to the almost 800 million illiterate adults and children in developing countries will change lives.

Knowing how to read and write improves educational success, health, earning potential, safety, and ultimately breaks the cycle of poverty. Literate people are empowered to seek jobs for which they might otherwise be unqualified. The increase in earnings potential contributes to overall economic growth. Literacy is related to improved self-esteem, increased community involvement, and more.

Socio-economic status is directly linked to literacy. People living in poverty and lacking access to enough food and clean water are less likely to attend school and learn to read and write. Adult literacy rates are lower in households belonging to the poorest people. In countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the Sudan and Togo there is a 40 percent literacy gap between those living in poverty and the rich.

Access to books is necessary so that children can develop reading and writing skills, yet as many as 40 percent of schools in Africa do not have access to reading material, and if they do, it is not current, level-appropriate, or relevant to readers’ interests. Only five percent of poor families in developing countries have books in their homes for children under the age of five.

What is the answer?  Worldreader believes that providing mobile devices to fight illiteracy is part of the answer. Almost six billion of the seven billion people on Earth have access to a mobile device, providing mobile devices. Providing access to mobile devices including mobile phones, e-reader apps and e-readers will help to level the playing field.

In places where access to books is limited, Worldreader and UNESCO are helping by providing mobile devices to fight illiteracy. Worldreader is providing schools with e-readers, mobile phones as well as the Worldreader Mobile reading app. Authors and publishers around the world are helping by translating and digitizing popular book titles as well as top trade and textbook titles. Most books are free.

In surveys and interviews conducted by UNESCO and completed by more than 4,000 people in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, it was revealed that people read more on mobile devices and enjoy reading more, too. They also read to their children more from mobile devices.

Clearly leaving a bunch of books on a table or even on a mobile device does not necessarily mean that people will read, but they certainly won’t if they don’t have access. Hopefully, having access will promote both curiosity and literacy.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr

Education in Samoa
While the Samoan education system has achieved much over the years, the oceanic nation still has room to grow, especially in terms of dropout and retention rates. Here are six facts about education in Samoa.

  1. The Education Sector of Samoa serves a population of approximately 193,000 on a land area of 2,820 square kilometers, comprising the two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i and eight small islands. Samoa is a lower middle-income country with a GDP of nearly $761 million in 2015 with a life expectancy of 73.4 years and a Gender Development Index (GDI) of 0.956 (in comparison, the U.S. has a GDI of 0.995).
  2. According to a 2012 UNESCO report, 99 percent of adult Samoans are literate, compared to the Pacific average of 71 percent and the global average of 84 percent.
  3. Early childhood education in Samoa is provided mainly by nongovernmental organizations. The participation rate remains low, with the actual number assumed to be higher due to community‐run, unregistered pre‐schools. Little is known about how these informal early childhood educations perform or how they compare to federally funded programs.
  4. Primary school enrollment rates are high, and most children go on to complete the full cycle of eight years of primary education. Secondary school participation rates have room for improvement, with 50.6 percent of boys and 69.5 percent of girls of secondary school age attending secondary school. Of those attending secondary school, however, graduation rates were above 90 percent in May 2016.
  5. Recent Samoan national reports highlight education as a critical issue in the perpetuation of rural poverty. The 2013 Samoa Hardship and Poverty Report described a strong correlation between poverty, vulnerability status and the level of education of Samoan citizens. The analysis found that males with no tertiary education in urban areas are more likely to be vulnerable to poverty than other demographics. While only 12 percent of Samoans are formally employed, and most live off of informal wages, low-paid employment opportunities in both formal and informal sectors, which do not require any training beyond a secondary education, tend to be male-dominated and concentrated in urban areas.
  6. Informal educational programs play an important role in the delivery of basic education. These include ‘ā’oga faifeau,’ or religious programs, that supplement regular education and nongovernment organizations that provide second chance educational programs for dropouts. Samoa’s Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture has recently begun incorporating practical subjects and vocational education and training programs to meet the learning needs of both students and the economy.

Compared to the Pacific community and even a majority of the world population, Samoan schools demonstrate characteristics of effective education programs. However, increased emphasis on secondary school retention and the role of informal and vocational education could possibly improve the quality and effectiveness of education in Samoa.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr


Located off the coast of Africa is a small country called Seychelles. Despite numerous hurdles that made receiving an education in Seychelles a struggle, the Ministry of Education has made important strides in the educational system since the country’s formation.

After gaining independence in 1976, Seychelles had little formal education made available to the people. In fact, the government did not start a program to improve the adult literacy rate until the late 1980s.

This program encouraged adults to attend literacy classes and school, if possible, to improve their education. Consequently, the adult literacy rate rose as high as 85 percent in 1991. Today, the literacy rate is around 94 percent, taking into account all residents of the small country.

The improvement in literacy is not the only good news about education in Seychelles, though. Since 1981, the government has supported free education, allowing children to attend school without having to pay for tuition. Also, the government mandates for students aged 16 and younger to attend school.

This is all a result of the government’s effort to improve education in Seychelles to benefit all residents. According to Commonwealth Education Online, the government wants to “empower young people in order to enhance national productivity and social cohesion, and to enable them to participate fully in the global marketplace.”

These plans are going well, as around 94 percent of children now complete primary education in Seychelles.

In 2000, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) laid out goals for 164 countries to achieve by 2015. Some of these goals concerned adult literacy and early childhood development and education. By 2014, Seychelles was the only country in Africa to meet the goal of providing education to all residents before the 2015 deadline. Other countries in Africa made significant strides in their education system. However, according to the Seychelles News Agency, 31 of these countries were not expected to achieve UNESCO’s goals until as late as 2020.

Clearly, the government has made improving education in Seychelles a top priority. Though the country has not opened a university for the continuation of education, a teaching college is available. Many students choose to study in the United Kingdom for university tuition, and the government is in cooperation with the University of London to open a center for higher learning in the island nation.

Education in Seychelles has come a long way since the country’s formation, and only plans on improving.

Jacqueline Nicole Artz

Photo: Flickr