Posts

Distance Learning Programs
As a result of the pandemic, world leaders are rethinking how education is delivered to an estimated 2.2 billion children. The speed of internet connections, online infrastructure and security all pose unique obstacles in expanding distance learning programs. Here are nine successful distance learning programs in developing nations that can serve as a model for other countries.

9 Successful Distance Learning Programs in Developing Nations

  1. Bangladeshi Television (BTV) broadcasts lessons daily to students grades 6 to 10. It is currently expanding to other mediums such as radio, cell phones and online lessons like BTV’s YouTube Channel in order to educate children consistently. UNICEF cites alternatives to physical classrooms as helping local students further their education. “The longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return,” says Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Country Representative in Bangladesh.
  2. The Colombian Ministry of Education implemented new online programming and educational resources in March 2020. Programs are also broadcast through radio and public television programs to maximize accessibility. For families without internet access, At-Home Learning Kits provide the necessary educational materials.
  3. Cote D’ Ivoire launched My School at Home (Mon école à la Maison) for elementary school through high school students. Educational resources are available for all grade levels and for technical and vocational courses. My School at Home obtained a $70,000 grant in March 2020 through UNICEF’s Global Partnership for Education to launch television and radio distance learning courses.
  4. Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development is helping distance learning programs in developing nations around the world. The organization was originally developed to bring access to broadband to underserved areas worldwide by 2030. In response to COVID-19, the commission is participating in high-level advocacy to bring “resilient connectivity, affordable access and safe use of online services” to developing countries.
  5. Moodle is an open-source learning platform that has been in operation for over a decade. Collaborating with more than 80 partners, Moodle provides an intuitive, multi-lingual learning environment to more than 213 million users in 120 languages. Moodle’s modular design and ease of use allow for applications in all types of education, but it’s the belief that technological access empowers the world that sets this pioneering company apart.
  6. Founded in 2004, Pratham InfoTec Foundation (PIF) aims to expand access to technological advancements in India. The plan is to use these technological advancements to bridge the educational divides experienced by impoverished youth. In response to the COVID-19 global health crisis, PIF has launched the Digital Sakshar Initiative, a collection of over 30 courses and thousands of free videos, available online and as an app.
  7. Trees of Knowledge provides repositories of educational content throughout rural areas in Africa. Developed by William Sachiti, the idea is to install wireless hubs preloaded with digital content into large trees. In addition to providing a school experience to remote villages, Tree of Knowledge learning hubs also have first aid and hygiene information. The technology is published as open-source, meaning anyone can improve a child’s quality of life by establishing remote learning in developing countries that is convenient and safe.
  8. edX is a global nonprofit working to increase access to post-secondary education worldwide. Founded in 2012, edX partners with more than 120 institutions, including Harvard and MIT, to provide high-quality education. The platform that powers edX courses is open-source and therefore can be utilized by other institutions and educators.
  9. Rumie and its development partners use their software to create and host 10-minute long micro-learning courses called Bytes. It also releases videos, MP3s and PDFs, most of which can be made available offline. Rumie’s mission is to provide free educational materials to underserved communities around the world. The organization also recently released a collection of COVID-19 related learning resources.

The pioneering programs listed above have an emphasis on equitable learning opportunities, emerging technological advances and passionate leaders. This puts them at the forefront of bringing quality education to millions of students now learning from home. Moving forward, these programs will likely become even more widely used, as digital learning transforms the future of education.

Katrina Hall
Photo: Flickr

How the Wawa Laptop Project is Helping Peru's Remote EducationAs the COVID-19 pandemic keeps schools in many countries closed and kids at home, it also highlights the inequality of education worldwide. The quality of education for children in Peru, a nation with one of the highest virus mortality rates, is based largely on the wealth of the family. This disparity in opportunity will only grow larger with remote schooling, where more of the burden is put on the parents and home to provide for the students. For families who cannot afford personal tutors or often-expensive education technology and the internet, they currently have no access to quality education for their children. Many organizations and companies in Latin America have been able to assist in this burden, creating new ways to provide education to poor students. School broadcasts on television and affordable curriculum education have been highly-praised, but some companies have been trying to make the technology itself more attainable for students. The Wawa Laptop Project is one example of this, creating laptops out of recycled materials and forming an initiative to donate laptops to Peruvian students in need.

Unequal Education in Peru

According to a UNICEF study, nearly 463 students across the world are without access to proper education, as well as television, internet or additional services. This leaves students out entirely, with no access to any form of education. This issue is impacting children in Peru, where children are allotted only one hour outside of the home a day.

Throughout Latin America, it is reported that only an average of 67% of the population has access to the internet, with that number closer to 10% in the poorest nations. In Peru, around one in three homes have access to a computer, meaning that a majority of the population is left without easy access to the internet. The harsh reality of this is that, at least for impoverished children in Peru, remote learning is simply impossible as it currently exists.

The government of Peru has become involved, ensuring that class lessons will be available on television broadcast until 2021, but this would still leave out a portion of the population with access to education. This inability to accommodate all students seems to mean that, until the schools can safely reopen, impoverished children will be left behind from their more wealthy classmates.

Wawa Laptops and Eco-friendly Tech Amid COVID-19

Wawa Laptops were created a year ago as an attempt to provide technology to the most vulnerable children in Peru. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative shifted to responding to the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in impoverished regions. Solar-powered and running on Linux operating systems, the laptops are also constructed using recycled materials, meaning that they are far more affordable for impoverished families. The laptops are said to last as long as 15 years, and before the outbreak, the Wawa Laptops had been successfully given to hundreds of Peruvian children in need.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, Wawa Laptops seem to be an affordable solution to some of the issues many children in Peru are facing. As a response, the company has launched the “Donate a Wawa Laptop, Educate a child” campaign, in which people can donate a laptop to a child in need. This donation will allow children who would otherwise be left out of a year of school to keep up with their fellow students. While not a total solution to the education divide in the country, the Wawa Laptop Project provides impoverished Peruvian children with quality education.

While students in Peru as well as the rest of the developing world are sure to face continued struggles in this year of remote learning, organizations like Wawa Laptop Project are supporting the most vulnerable young people. Access to technology and opportunity will be one of the main determinators for schooling in the COVID-19 age. With the support and ongoing donations, Wawa Laptops will allow children in Peru to stay focused on school amid the unprecedented international crisis.

– Matthew McKee
Photo: Flickr

Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Jordan, Turkey and LebanonOver 2.5 million children have been displaced by the ongoing refugee crisis in Syria. About 1.5 million children live in the neighboring counties of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. These children have experienced fear, terror, poverty, hunger and uncertainty. Once settled in their new homes, over half still do not have access to the formal education they need. A high cost for tuition and materials, lack of transportation to the school and a language barrier all prevent these children from receiving the education they deserve. Universal education for Syrian refugee children has become a daunting and essential task for Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

The governments of these three nations and other organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Human Rights Watch are working to ensure that each of these 1.5 million children receives the education they deserve. Here are some of the steps providing education for Syrian refugee children in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

Educating Syrian Children in Turkey

The 2016-2017 academic year was the first year in Turkey in which more Syrian children were in school than out of it. Roughly 490,000 children or 60% of the population received some form of formal education. Upon arrival in Turkey, these children attend a UNICEF-supported program called the TEC (formally Temporary Education Center, now the Transitional Education Center). These centers exist both inside and outside the refugee camps. In addition, it educates 64% of Syrian children in school in Turkey and offers courses in their native language. Sometimes the courses are at low or no cost to the families.

The Turkish Ministry on National Education (MoNE) is slowly integrating children who attend TECs into Turkish state schools. The issue of language barriers continues to be addressed and MoNE plans to fully assimilate Syrian children into Turkish schools by the end of 2020. This is a goal that was established prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Educating Syrian Children in Jordan

Jordan has made great strides in recent years, with only 10% of Syrian children not receiving primary school education. The government and other organizations such as Program Aid, Islamic Relief and Human Rights Watch have worked together to ensure that each child receives formal education in some form.

However, this support ends when the children grow older. The enrollment rate for Syrian students drops significantly, from 90% in primary schools to less than 30% in secondary schools. In June 2020, a 61-page report entitled “I Want to Continue to Study: Barriers to Secondary Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Jordan” came out. It details the struggles of refugee children once they transition out of primary school. Additionally, Human Rights Watch encourages Jordan and other countries to take action to ensure that every Syrian children’s education continues after primary school.

Educating Syrian Children in Lebanon

Roughly 57% of the 448,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are enrolled in public school. This number is growing each academic year. The Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) has received financial support from UNHCR, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other organizations. As a result, this enables MEHE to provide free education for Syrian refugee children (as well as Lebanese children) through the twelfth grade. This program, entitled Reaching All Children With Education (RACE), initiated a sharp increase in enrollment. In addition, MEHE opened 376 new schools between the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. UNHCR also provides resources for children not yet enrolled in school, both in the community and in the schools themselves. This is to ensure that children receive the education they need.

Many Syrian refugees still remain out of school. However, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have all made great strides in making education more accessible for Syrian children. Ensuring education for Syrian refugee children has not been an easy task. Yet, these countries have worked hard to make it possible for these children to receive the education they deserve.

Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in North Korea

Article 43 of the constitution accentuates the importance of socialist pedagogy as a means of raising younger generations. These are generations who will contribute to society in the future. Conversely, the attitude towards girls’ education in North Korea is rather different from the perceived authoritarian nature of the regime.

The state of girls’ education in North Korea is a great insight into the country’s public education system. It also unveils North Korean society as a whole. Additionally, it sheds light on its government policies. Like any another child, all young girls in North Korean children have personal goals and ambitions.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in North Korea

  1. North Korea also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world at 99 percent. This is particularly due to the fact that girls’ education in North Korea is mandatory as the state stresses the compulsory secondary education for both genders.
  2. The official North Korean newspaper, Pyongyang Times, encourages the participation of women and encourages education opportunities. A 1991 article showcased Kim Hwa Suk, a woman who completed compulsory education and worked as a farmer. Soon after, she attended university and chaired her cooperative’s management board. She eventually attained a position as a deputy to the Supreme People’s assembly.
  3. Apart from a core curriculum, most children receive their education from the Kim Il, Sung Socialist Alliance. Idolization education begins from the early stages of education for both boys and girls.
  4. The high school curriculum includes classes like “Kim Jong Un’s Revolutionary History”. The middle school curriculum teaches subjects such as “Kim Jung Un’s Revolutionary Acts.”
  5. The government has established over 11 schools for disabled children in the country for both girls and boys. This provides access to equal opportunities in life by providing a strong educational foundation.
  6. There seems to be a certain parity in girls’ education in North Korea. Both genders are to take ideology classes at the university level like “Juche Political Economy”, “History of the Revolution” and the “Philosophy of the Juche Ideology,” along with their declared majors.
  7. Girls’ education in North Korea has helped change gender roles over the years. Many women are now getting opportunities to major in fields like medicine, biology, literature and foreign languages
  8. However, ‘Confucian Patriarchy’, is unfortunately a part of society and is an impediment to girls’ education in North Korea. These tend to adversely impact women particularly during admissions into higher education institutions.
  9. Even though women are allowed to train for military service, sexual violence remains rampant among women who join the army. Furthermore, many women continue to be denied access to education according to Human Rights Watch and don’t receive the social credit or papers for household registration.
  10. Moreover, most women are expected to actively take part in the labor force and the government endorses this commitment equally between both men and women which is also attributed, in part, to the country’s dire labour shortages.

To conclude, contrary to popular opinion, societal attitudes toward women and girls continue to advance. Further progress for girls’ education in North Korea is of great historical and social significance. This is especially significant given the repressive nature of the government. It will remain an important foundation toward making further strides in the realm of gender equality and tackling other related issues.

-Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Helps Ethiopia

Though Ethiopia is still one of the world’s poorest countries, its poverty rate has been cut in half. Initially, more than 50 percent of the population living below the poverty line. This has since been reduced to about 25 percent. In the last 20 years, Ethiopia’s gross domestic product has risen from $8 billion to $80 billion. How did the once third-poorest country in the world do this?

Highly dependent on foreign aid, Ethiopia has received $3.5 billion in assistance in recent years from countries like Germany and the United Kingdom. The United States recently launched a 5-year, $40 million program, the Health Financing Improvement Program. This U.S. launched this program to invest in increasing Ethiopia’s ability to provide quality and affordable health care to its citizens. And it’s a prime example of how foreign aid helps Ethiopia. This investment will improve efforts to support maternal health, AIDS prevention and care, malaria treatment, nutrition and WASH. Programs like this have helped Ethiopia’s poverty rate fall from 44 percent to 30 percent in just over 10 years.

Below are some ways investment and foreign aid helps Ethiopia reduce extreme poverty.

Fast-Growing Economy

Many people think of Ethiopia as a country riddled with poverty. However, Ethiopia possesses one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa as of 2018. In the last decade alone, Ethiopia witnessed an average economic growth of 10 percent. This growth is due to public investments in infrastructure, agriculture and education, combined with foreign aid.

Agriculture

Forty-three percent of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product comes from agriculture. Foreign aid helps Ethiopia and its agriculture sector through different programs. Feed the Future is one such program, focusing on food security and connecting vulnerable peoples to markets. Other ways foreign aid helps Ethiopia is through strengthening sustainable natural resources and watershed management, adapting to climate change and improving food and nutrition security.

Health

Foreign aid also improves health Ethiopia, which struggles with nutrition and disease. Improvements in the health sector include slashing the mortality rate of children under five by two-thirds. Similarly, between 2004 and 2017, AIDS-related deaths have dropped from 83,000 to 15,000. This focus on health reduced the fertility rate from 7.0 to 4.6 children per woman between the years 1995 and 2011. This is crucial because high fertility rates contribute to stillbirth and mortality rates. While nutrition and food security are still problems in Ethiopia, malnourishment fell from 75 percent to 35 percent from the 1990s to 2012.

Education

According to the World Bank, Ethiopia was one of the most educationally disadvantaged countries in the 20th century. This was mostly due to low access to schooling. But with the help of foreign aid, Ethiopia’s primary school enrollment rates have doubled over 10 years. Foreign aid has improved curriculum, teaching, school inspections and teaching methods. Additionally, Ethiopia has seen an improvement in the number of textbooks and other materials available.

During the creation of the United States Agency for International Development, former President John F. Kennedy said, “There is no escaping our obligations: our moral obligations as a wise leader and good neighbor in the interdependent community of free nations – our economic obligations as the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people, as a nation no longer dependent upon the loans from abroad that once helped us develop our own economy – and our political obligations as the single largest counter to the adversaries of freedom.”

And this statement still holds true today. Powerful countries like the U.S. and China prosper, but countries like Ethiopia are still disadvantaged. Foreign aid helps Ethiopia, improving many lives, but there is always room for improvement.

Andrea Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr

Efforts to Improve Girls Education in Djibouti
Educating young people is one of the first steps to decreasing extreme poverty in many underdeveloped countries of the world. In Djibouti, this fact has been recognized and progress is being made to educate children. The special attention is on educating young girls in the country.

Statistics of Education in Djibouti

In four short years, between 2002 and 2006, net school enrollment in Djibouti rose from 43 percent to 66 percent. This was viewed as amazing progress at the time, but it was still unsatisfactory. In order to meet the standards of the Millenium Development Goals, Djibouti needed to lessen the statistic that showed that one of three children is not attending school. The final goal of the government is to get all its boys and girls into school.

Within the statistic mentioned above, the majority of the children not attending school were girls. To fix this, the focus was on bettering girls’ education in the country. Two organizations that have done an amazing job on girls education in Djibouti are UNICEF and Global Partnership for Education Efforts.

UNICEF Efforts

UNICEF discovered, without any surprise, that the main reasons why girls are not enrolled in schools were directly correlated with poverty and social problems. These reasons included the fact that most of the girls out of school were orphans, homeless and neglected. Other factors that affected this statistic were health problems and disabilities.

UNICEF implemented the Basic Education and Gender Equality Program which was composed of three components: equal access to educational facilities, quality of primary education and non-formal education. Each component had subtopics within them.

The most important and impactful ones were social mobilization efforts, creating mass media educational systems, promoting child-friendly school systems, increasing teacher training, increasing women involvement in teaching, better access for children from rural areas and the development of alternative teaching methods.

Global Partnership for Education Efforts

The Global Partnership for Education Efforts partnered with the Djibouti government for the first time in 2006. Their education sector plan for the country is a nine-year program, planned from 2010 to 2019.

This organization has very similar goals as UNICEF, which makes sense since these are partner programs. However, it is still important that yet another organization pushes hard for equal education rights in the country.

The program has six main objectives. The first is developing a pre-school system that connects rural, urban, private and public sectors so that everyone receives the same education across the board. For primary education, their second goal is to have 100 percent of eligible children enrolled by 2019. They have settled for 79 percent for secondary education, understanding the need to work in some situations.

The third goal is to eliminate the gender disparity. The organization understands the importance of bridging the gap between genders so that girls can become future leaders, teachers and lawmakers who will continue to fight for equal rights for all citizens in Djibouti. This goal is the most important one from the standpoint of improving the girls’ education in Djibouti. The remaining goals all have to do with reform on every level that interacts with the education system in Djibouti. Global Partnership for Education has many strategies that they are using to reach these goals.

The government of Djibouti has been aware of the need to increase school enrollment of girls since the early 21st century. Since then, they have been working with organizations like UNICEF and Global Partnership to fix disparities.

Being aware and making moves to fix things are some of the most important steps to fixing a problem, especially one concerning poverty and education rights. The fight for increasing girls’ education in Djibouti is not over yet.

Global Partnership still regularly updates their progress on the matter, with their most recent article being from October 2018. Keeping hope alive and working together matters most in these harsh times.

Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Burundi
At then end of June this year, the Ministry of Education in Burundi decided to ban pregnant girls and teenage fathers from attending school. Girls have always been treated unfairly in comparison to boys when it comes to education, and this new ban is just another example. Although the ban feigns equality by giving teenage fathers the boot: the solution is faulty.

Teenage Pregnancy in Burundi

To begin with, all children deserve the right to education and should not be denied it on the premise of pregnancy. Secondly, there is no access to a reliable method to establish a teenage boy’s paternity. The ban is inherently biased against girls because they cannot hide their pregnancy. Since teenage pregnancy is an issue, girls’ education in Burundi will be affected by this restriction because fewer girls will be able to attend school.

The impact of this new law has the potential to be irreparably damaging, as 11 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in Burundi are sexually active. Additionally, 40 percent of victims of sexual or physical violence in Burundi are teenage girls. There is simply no way for the Ministry of Education to police sexual violence in order for it to entirely stop affecting girls of school-age. The ban does nothing but punish girls for a situation they have no control over.

Other countries such as Morocco and Sudan have also taken measures in an attempt to prevent premarital sex. The laws they have in place allow young girls to face criminal charges for adultery and extramarital sex. They can also be expelled from school. Officials have stated the laws are necessary to punish girls for “moral failures.”

Poverty and Girls’ Education in Burundi

Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 65 percent of its population living below the poverty line. Living in a low-income region already is detrimental to girls’ education in Burundi. Girls’ families often cannot afford school supplies and the quality of education is not good either.

The last thing girls need are more roadblocks to getting their education. The new ban on attending school while pregnant perpetuates stigmas and isolate young girls socially. These girls are often already financially disadvantaged and ostracizing them from the school system puts them in a much less supported and dangerous place.

Some countries have policies that allow girls to re-enter school after being expelled. However, it is common for these systems to have many deterrents for girls to actually re-enter. Medical exams and an extended maternity leave are just a few examples.

After a young girl has been ostracized and humiliated, it is unlikely she will want to return to pick up from where she left off. The re-entry programs make the system seem a little more humane. But when thought about realistically, they probably will not provide girls with more opportunity.

Girls’ education in Burundi has a long way to go after the passing of this law. Surpassing financial obstacles in an impoverished country to get an education is hard enough on its own. Girls should not have to live in the fear of losing their shot at getting an education because of a situation that they are not responsible for.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

girls’ education in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a country known for its dedication to its diverse environment. But less known is its dedication to educating its youth, predominantly girls. The range of resources offered throughout the country, whether institutional or grassroots oriented, are just as diverse as its environment. The following are ten facts that help illuminate the successes and improvements of girls’ education in Costa Rica.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Costa Rica

  1. As of 2018, four percent of the country’s total GNP, one-fourth of the national government budget, was given to education. More money is spent on education in Costa Rica than any other Latin American country.
  2. In 1869, the country made education free and compulsory for all citizens. After this mandate, the number of schools in the educational system have risen to more than 4,000. The World Bank reports as of 2016 that girls’ educational participation at the primary school level is 96.6 percent, with secondary school enrollment at 84.5 percent.
  3. Girls’ enrollment at the tertiary level of education in Costa Rica is 60.9 percent, which is much higher than the male enrollment at the same level who have a participation of 46.6 percent. This participation in higher education is substantial. The world’s average percentage of girls enrolled at the tertiary level of education is only 38.9 percent.
  4. UNICEF reports as of 2012 that girls ages 15 to 24 years old have a literacy rate of 98.7 percent in Costa Rica. This rate exceeds the literacy rate for males, which is 97.9 percent.
  5. There are several programs for girls’ education in Costa Rica that include sustainable development. Sulá Batsú is a local organization that targets young women, specifically in low-income communities, and provides education on technology. By integrating the arts and cultural practices into the process, girls learn more than just technical skills. They also learn how to incorporate their unique identities into the work they produce. The organization has seen the success of 250 students in their technology camps in 2018 alone.
  6. February 15, 2017, marked the inaugural event of the first International Day of Women and Girls in Science in the country. Along with the U.N., this celebration aimed to encourage girls’ education in Costa Rica in science-related fields. Positions in these fields have been traditionally held by men; only 28 percent of researchers are women. Science is viewed not only as the main component of creating a sustainable society aimed at protecting the planet but is also seen as a path to eradicating poverty.
  7. Young girls engaged in STEM are reaching unprecedented rates in Costa Rica. In 2014, at the Twenty-sixth Math Olympiad, 66 medals were given to 132 high school students who had achieved success in the final events of the academic competition. Of these 132 students, a high number of finalists were girl students. This trend was also seen at the Fifth Robotics Olympiad in Costa Rica, where many of the teams had girl participants and some groups being formed solely of females.
  8. The World Bank estimates that of the 4.85 million people living in the country, 1.1 million live in poverty. The Women’s Empowerment Coalition in the country is aimed at helping impoverished girls and women to ensure that they reach a higher standard of living through education. The Coalition works by educating socially vulnerable girls, ensuring they achieve a high school education and job placement assistance. The organization’s model is “collaborative, reciprocal and relational.” The classes are self-paced and mentoring, educational materials and resources are provided to students to assist them in achieving U.S. high school diploma equivalencies. The Coalition has reached over 4,000 women and girls thus far.
  9. Mujeres en Tecnología en Acción (Women in Technology in Action) was launched in January of 2015 and is an organization aimed at promoting the participation of girls in science and technology-related fields in Costa Rica. The group identifies girls aged 15 to 19 living in communities at social risk and invites them to take part in the program. Participating girls learn skills that will better serve them in technology-based careers, such as leadership, entrepreneurship and female empowerment.
  10. UNESCO has worked with the government to identify a list of goals to be reached by 2030. Several of the goals center on educational standards, which will be implemented throughout the country. UNESCO identifies girls as being vulnerable to poverty if not properly educated at an early age. As of 2016, less than 6,000 girls had dropped out of school, a significant decrease from the 2011 record of 10,000. This progress illustrates the dedication to girls’ education in Costa Rica as a means of eradicating poverty country-wide.

Costa Rica has taken strides to ensure that its population consists of well-educated, globally-minded citizens. These 10 facts about girls’ education in Costa Rica exemplify how an already progressive state will continue to work hard to maintain this standard well into the future.

 – Taylor Jennings
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Girls' Education in Uganda

Girls’ education in Uganda varies from region to region. The gender gap has become smaller; however, there are serious issues holding back the progress of the development of girls’ education. Below are 10 facts about girls’ education in Uganda that highlight the obstacles as well as the benefits proven to be derived from the continuation of a girls’ education.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Uganda

  1. The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) reported that more than 700,000 girls in Uganda between the ages of six to 12 have never attended school. In fact, around half of girls between the ages of 15 to 24 are illiterate and four in five girls do not attend high school.
  2. A large contributor to low female literacy rates and school attendance rates is that up to 40 percent of girls in Uganda are married before the age of 18. Around 10 percent of these girls are married before the age of 15. Around 35 percent of girls drop out due to marriage and 23 percent drop out due to pregnancy. In contrast, allowing girls to continue through secondary education significantly reduces the chances of early marriage and childbearing.
  3. In Uganda, teenage pregnancy rates are some of the highest in the world. The national average is 24 percent; however, statistics change from region to region. The poorest regions have the highest percentage of teenage pregnancy.
  4. Poverty is the largest contributor to low standards in girls’ education in Uganda. Though education is free, school supplies and uniforms are not. Because of this, when faced with either sending a son or a daughter to school, a son’s education will usually be prioritized.
  5. Because of the high poverty rates, girls are usually expected to work as a way to increase the family’s income. The Global Partnership for Education reported that especially in rural areas, local traditions dictate that girls can be married in exchange for a dowry, a sum of money given to the daughter’s family as payment.
  6. Uneducated girls are highly susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases as well as other health complications. Health issues put girls at a risk of not continuing their education. In 2015, around 567 young people between the ages of 15 to 24 contracted HIV/AIDS on a weekly basis. A staggering 363 of these young adults were female.
  7. Girls are less likely to attend school during their menstrual cycle which creates gaps in a girl’s education. This is caused by inadequate infrastructure and resources for good hygiene in schools, especially for girls. Furthermore, girls often feel ashamed and embarrassed about their cycle because women’s health education is not a priority.
  8. Statistics show that educated mothers are more than twice as likely to ensure the education of their children. They are also more likely to earn higher wages than an uneducated person. A World Bank report shows that there would be a 14 percent rise in a girl’s wage if she would continue her education rather than get married.
  9. Educating girls would see a reduction in child marriage and births. This is closely linked to lower mortality rates as well. It would also greatly improve the standard of living across Uganda and reduce poverty rates.
  10. Educated women are more likely to invest back into their families. Roughly 90 percent of an income will usually go back to the family.

While the Ugandan education system has progressed and policies have been adopted, the lack of enforcement is the real issue. There must be further investment in the future of girls and their education; as these facts about girls’ education in Uganda illustrate, investing in girls would benefit the country in immeasurable ways.

– Trelawny Robinson
Photo: Flickr

child poverty in ThailandOver the last several years, Thailand has made impressive progress in reducing poverty. It has gone down from 67 percent in 1986 to only 7.2 percent in 2015. While there has been considerable progress made, poverty is still a major problem in Thailand, especially among children. The following are 10 important facts about child poverty in Thailand.

10 Facts About Child Poverty in Thailand

  1. It is estimated that about one million children in Thailand are living in vulnerable conditions. Child poverty in Thailand is a serious issue. These vulnerable individuals include children that live in poverty, have lost their parents, have a disability or have been forced to live on the streets.
  2. Child labor has long been a problem. It is estimated that more than eight percent of children between ages five and 14 are involved in the workforce. Impoverished children have no option but to enter into factory work, fishery work, construction or agriculture. Young children are also often forced into the commercial sex industry. Riley Winter, a student who recently traveled to Thailand, told The Borgen Project she witnessed children were giving tourists foot massages for just a small amount of money.
  3. Around 380,000 children have been left as orphans by the AIDS epidemic. This greatly affects child poverty in Thailand; many of these children are forced to live on the streets or enter the workforce because they have no one to care for them. It is also estimated that 200 to 300 children will be born HIV-positive each year.
  4. Poor children in Thailand do not have full access to medical care. Out of the 20,000 children are affected by HIV/AIDS, only 1,000 of them have access to medical care.
  5. Children are being exploited. Thailand has become wealthier and, consequently, trafficking networks have been expanding to poorer and isolated children in the country. Child poverty in Thailand has led these children to enter commercial sexual exploitation.
  6. Child poverty in Thailand makes it difficult for poorer children to remain in school. They do not have access to the necessary tools to succeed and remain in school so they are often forced to drop out. The wealthiest group has 81.6 percent of children of primary school age enter grade one while only 65.3 percent of the poorest group enter grade one.
  7. Arranged marriages are very prevalent in Thailand today. A man from a wealthy family is often chosen because the dowry system is still utilized in Thailand. The wealthy man will give the bride’s parents money in exchange for her hand in marriage. This happens in poor communities in Thailand very often, taking away the possibility for the impoverished girl to receive future education, among other things.
  8. Children are being forced to live on the streets due to things like violence, abuse and poverty. These children often beg or sell small goods for just a bit of money each day. They are at risk of poor health and lack of nutrition.
  9. Children are being left in rural communities. Thailand’s economy has been moving away from the agricultural sector and more money can be made in urban areas. Parents are forced to go to work in bigger cities like Bangkok, and children are often left in the care of someone else in rural villages.Parents send money back to their family but children often only get to see their parents one to two times a year. Although the parents are making more money, leaving their children comes with a risk. Children left in these rural communities are at risk of malnutrition and developmental and behavioral issues.
  10. Since the 1990s, child poverty in Thailand has been rapidly improving. The number of child deaths has decreased, literacy rates have dramatically increased, fewer children are malnourished and there are more children in school and less in the workforce.

There have been countless efforts made in Thailand to address child poverty but there is still a lot of work to be done. The nation has set long-term economic goals to be reached by 2036. These goals address economic stability, human capital and equal economic opportunities. These goals will be crucial going forward to help fight child poverty in Thailand.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr