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

Venezuela's Education System
A number of factors are greatly affecting Venezuela’s education system. The Venezuelan government has always believed that every citizen has the right to free education. When oil prices drove Venezuela’s economy, so too was its educational system. Venezuela used to rank as one of the highest in education in Latin America until 2010 when it became number six in the region. Now the country is undergoing one of the worst humanitarian crises and it is affecting Venezuela‘s education system.

Economic and Political Collapse

In the 20th century, modernization and urbanization in Venezuela brought many improvements to its educational system. Former President Hugo Chavez used the rise in oil prices to fund the education system, train teachers and fund laptop computers. Now that the gas prices have dramatically fallen, not only has the economy gone down with it, the corruption and mismanagement of the government have also affected the quality of Venezuela’s education system.

High Dropout Rates and Limited Faculty Members

Several students living in Venezuela have missed more than 40 percent of class due to school cancellations, strikes, protests or vacation days. That is equal to missing more than half of their mandatory instruction school days. There has been a “massive desertion of students” in every level of education. Yearly dropout rates have doubled since 2011 and in 2017 about 50 percent of students in three public universities located in Táchira dropped out. About one-fourth of the students do not attend school at all.

Massive numbers of teachers have left their jobs because of their low-wage salary of $6-$30 a month. About 400 employees have quit one of Venezuela’s top science universities, Simon Bolivar University, in the past 2 years. Some teachers dedicate their time to attending strikes and protests in the hopes of changing the education system, which results in them only working 10 days out of the month. Teachers also miss school when they encounter long food lines to feed their families, and some fear that someone will shoot, murder or rob them on campus when they go to work. Robberies in universities have increased by 50 percent in the last three years.

Lack of Food, Water, Electricity and Supplies

“There is only one bathroom for 1,700 children, the lights are broken, there is no water and the school meals are no longer being served,” said a teacher working in one of Venezuela’s middle-class public schools. The scarcity of water, food in cafeterias and electricity has caused schools like Caracas Public High School to close down for weeks at a time. Teachers are even trading passing grades for milk and flour because of the scarcity of food. Students are passing out every day at physical education classes due to their empty stomachs and broken school kitchens.

Budget cuts on school funding are the major reason why schools lack the supplies they need. In 2019, the University of Central Venezuela received only 28 percent of its “requested annual funding.” This is less than the 40 percent it received in 2014 and estimates determine that it will decline to 18 percent next year. These budget cuts result in “broken toilets, leaking ceilings, unlit classrooms and cracked” classroom floors. The education budget now prioritizes Bolivarian Universities due to the fact that they teach 21st-century socialism.

Lack of Intellectual Freedom

About 15 years ago, during former President Hugo Chavez’s presidency, the Bolivarian University of Venezuela opened. This is a higher education institution for underprivileged and poor civilians that are suffering due to Venezuela’s situation. This developed into a new education system the government created that stands by “the ideology of its socialist revolution.” Since the government has taken control over the university’s autonomy, lack of academic thought and intellectual freedom is prevalent. Since private companies now cannot fund universities as of 2010, there have been no new majors approved.

Solutions

Caritas is a nonprofit organization inspired by the Catholic faith and established in 1997. It has a history of listening to the poor talk about what they need and giving them what is necessary to improve their lives. It has seen over 18,890 children and provided 12,000 of them with nutritional care. About 54 percent of those children have recovered from malnutrition and other medical emergencies.

Global Giving is another NGO that has started a foundation called the I Love Venezuela Foundation. This Foundation focuses on creating and channeling resources to NGOs that focus on the “wellbeing, human development, and social transformation” in Venezuela. It also works on raising money in order to buy shoes for low-income families in Venezuela so that they can safely walk to school, play with their friends and be children. Its goal is to reach $10,000 and it has raised about $630 so far.

While Venezuela’s education system has had challenges in recent years, organizations like Caritas and Global Giving should help alleviate some of the burdens that prevent children from attending school. With continued support, Venezuela’s school system should one day reach its height again.

Isabella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

Sports Programs Alleviating Poverty
Sports are not an easy ticket out of poverty, but sports programs for impoverished youth can provide skills, support and guidance that can strengthen individuals and communities. Developing physical, social and emotional health are just a few of the benefits that children can reap from participation in quality sports programs. Below are five youth sports programs alleviating poverty worldwide.

Five Youth Sports Programs Alleviating Poverty Worldwide

  1. Tiempo de Juego: Tiempo de Juego in Colombia considers the game of soccer to be a tool capable of transforming communities, developing the skills of boys and girls and inspiring them to become agents of change. Tiempo de Juego takes an academic approach to the game of soccer, identifying three areas of development: technical skills, psychosocial development and a pedagogical foundation. Through the common bond of soccer, Tiempo de Juego allies with seven local schools as well as families to bring positive social opportunities to the lives of community members. It even supports small business endeavors of families who provide goods and services such as screen-printed t-shirts and vending for soccer events.
  2. Line Up, Live Up: Line Up, Live Up is a life skill curriculum with various sports from martial arts to volleyball. The Youth Crime Prevention through Sports Initiative sprang from the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declarative and is taking roots in Palestine and Central Asia. In addition to physical exercise and teamwork, Line Up, Live Up helps kids learn life skills for resisting social pressures of drug use and delinquency. It also helps students with issues such as anxiety and communication with peers. Line Up, Live Up forms its basis from empirical research from the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime and also the understanding that risk factors in the lives of youth can be reduced through meaningful intervention. The belief that actual changes in attitudes and behaviors can take place drives the organization.
  3. Love Fútbol:  Love Fútbol emerged in 2006 after Drew Chafetz founded it on the platform that community-driven energy toward social change could happen on a universal passion for soccer. An avid soccer player who traveled widely, Drew noticed the unsafe and unsupervised conditions in which impoverished kids often played. Drew developed the philosophy that every child has the right to play soccer and he built that dream into fruition in a collaborative way.The first program started in Guatemala before expanding to Brazil. Each place Love Fútbol goes, the community plays a vital role in building the field and creating the program, thereby instilling their ownership in the process. Partnering with global sponsors, Love Fútbol provides funding for raw materials. In Colombia, Love Fútbol partnered with Tiempo de Juego that had the experience and the vision of implementing soccer programs in its own community but lacked the budget. Love Fútbol was able to help make its dreams a reality. The whole community built the field with the help of over 100 volunteers and 1,500 hours of labor. In another location in Mexico, the organization constructed a soccer field on the former site of a factory, bringing revitalization to the community. With well-maintained fields and supervised programs, impoverished participants can build healthier and more productive lives. Love Fútbol programs are growing throughout Latin America and these sports programs are alleviating poverty successfully.
  4. Waves for Change: Waves for Change is a unique program on this list, as it does not involve a ball game. Waves for Change is a surfing program for youth that face poor infrastructure, violence and poverty in Capetown, South Africa. Tim Conibear founded it in 2009 because he recognized that surfing was a great way to reach at-risk youth who would not otherwise have access to such activities. Primarily a mental health foundation, the program addresses the psychological and emotional well-being of kids who often experience trauma. Waves for Change teams with mental health professionals to address the issues of child mental health. Program leaders note an improvement in self-care and participation in school for those who take part in the program. Kids who grow up in gang culture are looking for risk and surfing can fulfill that need in a positive way. The organization is able to employ over 40 coaches who are former participants in the program. The activity instills pride, personal responsibility and a sense of self-worth.
  5. Cricket Program: Daniel Juarez, an accomplished cricket player in Argentina, founded Cricket Program. He established this program for the youth living in the most dangerous and impoverished slums of Argentina. Caacupe Community Center offers the cricket program. Pope Francis, formerly cardinal to Buenos Aires, is a benefactor as well as Rev. Pepe Di Paola who people know for his anti-crime work in area slums. Through the sport, kids receive an education and learn values. Some participants have developed their skills to such a high level as to qualify for national-level youth cricket teams. The organizers believe cricket provides a foundation that participants can carry with them throughout life. It even received a Best Spirit Award from the International Cricket Council.

Children worldwide have a natural drive and passion to play sports and these five sports programs are alleviating poverty worldwide. Poverty can inhibit access to good equipment, safe fields and quality instruction, but through innovative programs that engage community members and provide structure and funding, kids can experience the joy of play as well as build valuable life skills. The confidence gained can nurture lives and empower families in their rise from poverty.

Susan Niz
Photo: Flickr

El Salvador

The youth in El Salvador, one of the world’s most violent countries, face a lot of obstacles when it comes to getting an education. With the poverty rate at 31 percent and teen pregnancy on the rise, going to school and getting an education in El Salvador is not a simple feat. Avoiding gang violence, affording transportation and supplies, finding employment or valuable training after high school are all challenges that the youth in El Salvador face when it comes to receiving an education.

However, there are several companies and organizations aimed at improving the quality of education in El Salvador. These innovative companies develop programs and projects with the purpose of bettering the lives of the young. These programs help students with job training, English-language learning skills, sex education, brain education and education for students with disabilities.

IBREA and Brain Education

IBREA is a nonprofit organization founded in 2008, aimed at spreading knowledge about the relationship between the brain and body. Ilich Lee, the founder of IBREA believes that through holistic education like meditation, artistic expression and group work, people can achieve peace within themselves and eventually within their communities. IBREA has offered educational programs, seminars and carried out several projects in countries around the world including Liberia, Costa Rica, Sierra Leone and El Salvador.

IBREA began working in El Salvador in 2011 and is currently present in one-fourth of the country’s schools. IBREA has made a notable impact on a school in the district of Distrito Italia. This district is one of many deeply affected by gang violence and poverty in El Salvador. Students, teachers and principals alike have said that since the beginning they have noticed significant improvements in their physical health, stress levels, and motivation in IBREA programs. Other improvements include better peer relations, clarity, decision-making and emotion regulation. The IBREA Foundation is continuing to make strides in El Salvador and Ilich Lee has even received the “Jose Simeon Cañas” award from the previous president of El Salvador Salvador Sánchez Cerén for the positive impact IBREA has had on schools in El Salvador.

FULSAMO and Vocational Training

FULSAMO is a nonprofit organization based in El Salvador aimed at improving the lives and creating opportunities for at-risk youth in El Salvador. Through various programs located in Community Centers throughout El Salvador, FULSAMO works to keep the youth of El Salvador away from gang violence by offering training programs that help them find employment. Currently, FULSAMO has four locations in Soyapango, a municipality in El Salvador.

FULSAMO is currently offering training sessions for work in call centers. The course is six months long, and students are offered help finding relevant employment upon its completion. Unemployment for the youth in El Salvador is nearly 12 percent, but only 7 percent for El Salvador’s general population. Since youth are more at risk for joining gangs, programs like FULSAMO are vital for the betterment of the community. Aside from training opportunities, FULSAMO also offers programs centered on arts, music and leadership.

“Comunidades Inclusivas” for Children with Disabilities

“Comunidades Inclusivas” is a project created by an Education Professor at the University of Maryland. The goal of this project is to make education in El Salvador more accessible to people with disabilities. Through small programs and networks, Comunidades Inclusivas works to have people with disabilities more socially involved in their communities so these connections can be used as a means to more access to education.

In developing nations, it is likely that children living in poverty, who can’t afford supplies such as uniforms, will drop out of school. For children with disabilities who may need more or different resources and supplies than students without disabilities, their likelihood of dropping out is increased. According to the Global Citizen, 90 percent of children living with disabilities are not in school, and 80 percent of people with disabilities, live in developing countries. The El Salvadorian government has made an effort to improve the lives of those living with disabilities and has had previous laws protecting their rights to public transportation and employment in place for decades. In 2018 the El Salvadorian government also passed an act that allowed the Basic Solidarity Pension Fund to apply to people with disabilities.

Through a partnership with International Partners, a nonprofit organization, Comunidades Inclusivas developed “Circulos de Amigos.” This is an initiative that connects people in a community who support and aid people with disabilities. Members of Circulos de Amigos support people with disabilities and their families by providing assistance during home visits, building ramps, and other specific needs. By improving the connection between people with disabilities and their community, Comunidades Inclusivas raises awareness and builds support systems for people with disabilities and their families. This ultimately makes education in El Salvador more of a possibility for people with disabilities.

Sex Education in Centro Escolar

Although teen pregnancy is prevalent in El Salvador, some educators aim to teach their students about sex education despite cultural stigmas. Females between 10 and 19 years old account for one-third of all pregnancies in El Salvador. In Panchimalco, a district south of El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, educators are taking the risk of teaching sex education, but do it in a way that avoids scrutiny.

Because sex education in El Salvador is sometimes associated with contraceptives and abortion, certain teachers (whose real identities are hidden) in Panchimalco take a different approach when trying to inform students about sex education to avoid ridicule from people in the community. For example, the courses inform students about gender rights and gender equality. This is especially important since the homicide rate for females is 12 for every 100,000 people and over 60 percent of females over the age of 15 have experienced some form of abuse by a male. Sex education courses help students recognize sexual violence, report sexual violence, recognize their rights, and plan for the future.

Although sex education is just in its beginning stages, if it continues, the bravery from teachers will make a difference in student’s lives.

– Desiree Nestor
Photo: Flickr


Literacy in India is distributed unevenly, and in the rural places where it is absent, it has continued to perpetuate poverty. Thirty-six percent of the world’s illiterate live in India, and one in five people were considered poor in 2016.

Room to Read is a program dedicated to using education as a weapon against that imbalance. It launched in 2003 in India and is now the most successful program among the 10 countries where it operates. By encouraging active reading habits and setting a goal to have all girls finish secondary school, literacy in India is improving immensely with the program’s help.

Students involved with the Room to Read Literacy Program read three times as fast as students in nearby schools, and of the 2014 graduates from the Girl’s Education Program, 84 percent went on to pursue post-secondary degrees.

Forty-seven percent of girls in India marry before the age of 18, and therefore do not pursue education. Young marriage perpetuates poverty, as the young women must provide for a family with limited opportunities. Today, female literacy in India is up to nearly 63 percent compared to 45 percent in 2000, and poverty is declining along with it.

For its humanitarian successes, Room to Read was given a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2006. This distinction represents the proven impact of an organization and grants it $1.25 million in support.

The sustainable model of Room to Read works largely with local governments to create a model of education that can be recreated and instated across developing countries even after the organization’s direct involvement has expired.

So far, the state governments of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh have been the most impressed in India, and have asked Room to Read to implement its educational system in the states for five years. What began as 360 schools in 2015 grew into 1,000 by 2016, and the three million children reached in India so far is expected to grow to a total of four million.

Putting that in the perspective of a campaign in its 14th active year, it is no surprise that Room to Read has benefited 11.5 million children globally, with its campaign in India ranking the most successful. Poverty will continue to become rare as literacy in India becomes the norm.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

Education in Malawi
While the availability of schooling has improved, education in Malawi is still hampered by many issues: insufficient funds, high student to teacher ratios, non-mandatory attendance and irregular attendance and high female dropout rates. Exams also act as a barrier to rather than a bridge towards continued schooling.

Schools are short-staffed, and class sizes of more than 100 children make teaching a tiring profession. In June 2016, the Malawi government was forced to rethink their funding for teachers after a teacher’s strike.

The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development provided $16 million in funding to hire 10,500 primary school teachers and 466 secondary school teachers next year.

It is vital that the government invests in children’s education and values teachers. However, as CCTV Africa predicts, the Treasurer might have a difficult time procuring the funds promised without foreign aid.

This is a valid concern because the World Bank has decreased the amount it will spend on education in Malawi; it will spend $44.9 million on education in Malawi within the next four years, only half the amount of aid it gave in previous years.

The previous grant with contributions from Germany, UNICEF, IDA and DfID achieved a great deal in five years. Funds from the grant were used to construct 2,936 classrooms and boarding homes and produce 26 million textbooks.

It also provided more than 80,000 children money for school and allowed 23,550 teachers to be trained to initiate a distance learning program. The dispersal of the upcoming grant from the World Bank will be geared towards early education and education for women.

Education in Malawi is at a turning point. Basic needs and accommodations are met, however, the state must further consider the mental well-being of teachers and students.

Recent revisions of the 2016 academic calendar, released last summer, allots days for holidays and midterm breaks. This keeps morale up and gives students a break from their usually rigorous schedule. The Ministry of Education mandates that this schedule applies to both public and private schools, to ensure a healthy learning environment for all.

Another significant change to the secondary school curriculum will take place. The Junior Certificate of Education (JCE), a test used to gauge an individual’s readiness for the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MCSE), will begin to be phased out. Malawi education officials noted that the test had become an obstruction for young women, who are less likely to pass this test due to poor childhood education.

Thus, the ministry moved to drop the test and allow everyone to advance to Form 3 and 4. In these higher-level classes, female students will have 2 more years to study and prepare for the MCSE, and access a larger selection of classes. This will give more girls the opportunity to continue their educations and complete secondary school in a timely manner.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr

Project-based learning
The concept of project-based learning is powerful: actively working through a project allows students to show creativity and adaptability that may be lacking in students who are exposed only to a traditional classroom setting.

In India, project-based learning places students’ focus on solving issues of personal interest and mitigates the high pressure of traditional education.

Often, students are lectured by teachers for the sole purpose of learning information to perform well on standardized board exams. These tests have the potential to determine whether a student can attend top colleges, receive the best jobs and have an overall successful future.

This method of testing puts intense pressure on students to the point where cheating scandals occur every year. Numerous gadgets are marketed and sold, one example being small in-ear microphones that allow someone to remotely feed students test answers. According to the Los Angeles Times, there have even been reports of principals allowing students to cheat for a fee.

Students who perform well on these tests often go on to top colleges and careers. For everyone else, dropping out is a likely alternative. In India, 99 percent of kids are enrolled in primary schools, however only 37 percent continue on to college.

To help change the status quo, the American School of Bombay (ASB) provides an alternative to traditional education in India. ASB believes that students learn and perform better when guided by internal motivation.

This international school located in Mumbai strives to be forward-thinking in terms of its less traditional teaching methods and strong ties to technology. The school believes that “teachers are most effective when they facilitate collaborative student learning through a wide variety of media-rich, interactive, and authentic learning experiences.”

In most schools across India, teachers provide lectures that do not deviate from a set curriculum. However at ASB, teachers are willing to let students take the lead on getting involved in projects that suit their personal interests and skills. One example of such a project is Plugged In, where tech-savvy students decided that they wanted to impart their knowledge to other children in Mumbai who did not have the same access to technology.

The ASB students did not know until arriving that the less fortunate school where they volunteered had no access to a computer, and they were forced to work around this obstacle.

At the end of the program, the volunteers were able to donate a computer to one student who had excelled, only to discover that his family could not afford electricity. This discovery, however, led the ASB students to embark on a new project of developing a power source that can be fueled by burning trash.

Receiving an education is an important hallmark of ascension out of poverty to the middle class. Project-based learning offers an alternative to students who drop out of school if they do not perform well on board exams.

Furthermore, many projects that students engage in offer new and inventive methods of reducing poverty. Project-based learning gives hands-on practice for improving the quality of life for people living in poverty.

It allows students to take a role of leadership and find what works for them to make use of their natural drive. When it comes to her students, one ASB teacher felt that it is important to “be their partner in learning and mentor them to a place where they can take off.”

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Pixabay

Africa_computer Africa Code WeekIn October 2015 nearly 89,000 African youth in 17 countries took part in “Africa Code Week” where they had the opportunity to attend free online sessions and coding workshops. The event was created to empower African youth to become fluent in the language of the digital age and stimulate the continent’s economic development.

For some of the youth who took part in the week-long celebration of digital literacy, Africa Code Week marked the first time they had ever written a single line of code. For others, it was their first time using a computer.

“Africa Code Week gives us an opportunity to marvel at what the future holds,” said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, in an article for Forbes. “It’s true that today less than one percent of African children leave school with basic coding skills. I’m confident that figure is about to rise dramatically, just as Africa prepares to claim its rightful place as a soaring economic power in this new digital economy.”

Throughout the world, coding is becoming an increasingly critical skill for those entering the workforce. Over the next 10 years, it is estimated that there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer sciences but only around 400,000 graduates qualified to do them, according to International Business Times.

As we wind our way deeper into the 21st century, individuals with coding skills will become more and more valuable in the workplace. Digital literacy could become a key strategy for strengthening economic infrastructure in developing countries.

“Digital literacy has the power to put millions of young Africans on the path to successful careers,” Moroccan Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Rachid Belmokhtar, said to IT News Africa. “Trained, tech savvy graduates are needed to improve Africa’s position in the globally competitive knowledge economy. Everyone from governments and educational institutions all the way to NGOs and corporations has a role to play to spread digital literacy across Africa.”

It was foundations like Ampion, SAP, Simplon.co and more that saw the need and came to help. They founded Africa Code Week to bestow young Africans with a set of useful skills through hands-on teaching.

Despite the fact that the event is the largest digital literacy initiative ever held on the African continent, SAP and its partners are not satisfied. Next year, the Africa Code Week team hopes to reach 150,000 youth in at least 30 countries.

“The digital economy is here and the opportunities it presents are manifold,” said Pfungwa Serima, Executive Chairman, SAP Africa. “If we equip young Africans with the best technology, give them skills that make them relevant to the job market and empower them to be bold and innovative, we’ll see them do amazing things.”

Jen Diamond

Photo: Flickr

Room to Read 10 Findings to Improve Global Education
Room to Read set out to change the lives of children around the world by focusing on literacy and gender equality. Fifteen years later, the non-profit has educated almost 10 million children.

Their other accomplishments include publishing more than 1,000 books in local languages, building more than 1,900 schools, establishing more than 17,000 libraries and providing more than 31,000 girls with education and life skills.

Room to Read facilitates education programs in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia. Through monitoring and evaluating their programs, Room to Read has revealed 10 keys to their success:

  1. Children read faster and with greater comprehension when they benefit from systematic reading instruction that focuses on phonics.
  2. Children are more likely to read when their teachers have been trained in how to conduct reading activities, such as reading aloud and shared reading.
  3. Children prefer illustrated fiction books, such as folklore and fantasy.
  4. Libraries are well-run and effective when they are monitored and evaluated consistently.
  5. Access to libraries makes students want to read more at school and at home.
  6. Transparency leads to greater community involvement and participation.
  7. Advocacy and partnerships with local governments are crucial to improving instructional methods and professional development for educators.
  8. Parent and guardian engagement in their daughters’ education is essential.
  9. Life skills education is directly associated with lower dropout rates and higher advancement rates among girls.
  10. Identifying risk factors and implementing early warning systems can prevent girls from dropping out of school and provide them with needed support.

“Achieving our milestone of 10 million children impacted through Room to Read’s programs is a time to celebrate and further our mission,” said Erin Ganju, Room to Read’s CEO and co-founder. “By sharing our findings on what works in global education, we hope to deliver a quality education to every child in every corner of the globe.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: Roomtoread, PRNewswire, AnnualReport
Photo: Flickr

Education_Crisis_ResponseIn the past twenty years, education rates in Nigeria have been the center of change, but not always for the better. After years of educational prosperity, rates dramatically dropped to approximately 70 percent in 2008, and continue to be low today.

Creative, an international development organization has created a program to boost education in Nigeria. According to the organization, “the three-year Nigeria Education Crisis Response program works to expand access to quality learning opportunities for displaced, out-of-school children and youth ages 6 to 17.”

Creative has joined forces with more than 30 Nigerian organizations as well as traditional and religious leaders in order to enhance efforts. Following this pattern has helped to provide safe and accessible classes as well as increase community support.

The organization notes that “using a proven curriculum, the displaced children receive basic education, with an emphasis on math and literacy. In addition, the centers provide vital psychological and social services to the often traumatized pupils—many of whom have witnessed horrendous acts of violence.”

Another key element to the Education Crisis Response Program is the class size and finding individuals who gain training to become teachers. These teachers are found in the communities where displaced children reside, then trained in order to prepare them for the hard task of helping traumatized children catch up.

One of these teachers, Jummai Dauda, said on the subject, “When I started with them, most of them have forgotten almost everything they had been learning in their schools, because when they came, they cannot read, they cannot write.”

“The type of education they do receive is a good one,” says Halilu Usman Rishi of Bauchi’s State Education Secretariat. “That is going to [pave the] way for them to mainstream to a formal system of education.” The goal to mainstream students by has been scheduled for 2017.

In order for this to happen, the program has enlisted and trained government officials to continue on once the program phases out.

Katherine Martin

Sources: World Bank, Creative Associates International 1, Creative Associates International 2, Creative Associates International 3, USAID
Photo: Wikimedia