The Karam Foundation is an American-based charity, that operates outside of Turkey. Its main purpose is to raise funds to rebuild schools in Syria, as well as to secure opportunities for Syrian children.

The organization’s mission is especially important at a time when the conflict in Syria has led to the recent closure of some schools in the protectorates of Raqqa, Deir-ez-Zour and other rural areas. These combined factors have disrupted the education of more than 670,000 students, according to UNICEF.

In addition, the majority of the country’s 5,000 schools cannot be used because they have been damaged, destroyed, or recently bombed. Some schools have even become bases for the armed forces and rebel groups. In 2015, more than 120 schools were bombed, in some cases, deliberately.

Not surprisingly, many parents have stopped sending their children to school. Syrian teachers have also paid a heavy price, as many have been forced to leave their jobs as a result of the ongoing conflict.

However, Karam Foundation has proposed that even in the face of adversity, it is necessary to invest in the children living in Syria by rebuilding their education and promoting prosperity.

The Foundation is focused on reconstructing the education system to ensure sustainability instead of finding short-term solutions that may not be durable.

The Karam Foundation also explains on its website that it is, “On a mission to build better future for Syria, this initiative is dedicated to providing aid that matters and finding the most effective and impactful ways to help the Syrian people.”

The Foundation has implemented both creative and therapeutic programs, with the help of dozens of experts that bring inspiration to thousands of displaced Syrian children. Through its sustainable development mechanism, the organization also provides innovative technology, effective business models and grants for Syrian children who desire to maintain themselves.

Moreover, year round, Karam Foundation provides basic necessities, such a food, clothing and heating fuel to thousands of Syrian families.

Isabella Rölz

Sources: Karam Foundation, UNICEF, FIP
Photo: Wikipedia

UNRWA Funding Gap May Prevent Palestinian Students from Going to School
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency was set to run out of money in September due to a $100 million funding gap. As of Aug. 19, $70 million in last-minute donations were reported from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., Britain and Sweden. As a result, the funding gap is now $22 million but luckily, services will continue.

The last minute donations came right before the school year is about to start, averting the closure of 700 schools that educate half a million children. The schools have already been forced to increase their class size from 38 to 43. UNRWA already had cut 85 percent of its short-term contracts with international consultants.

As of July, the U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees was facing its biggest funding crisis since it started in 1948, which would have led to a hold in the school year and not being able to help the displaced people in Yarmouk camp near Damascus.

UNRWA receives most of its funding from a small number of donors, primarily the U.S., Saudi Arabia, E.U. and the U.K. Just Syria needs $415 million and UNRWA only has 27 percent of that. Why is the funding gap so wide, one may ask?

According to UNRWA’s commissioner general, Pierre Krahenbruhl, “Palestinian refugees are facing their most severe situation since 1948. They have had 50 years of occupation, nine years of a blockade in Gaza and now five years of conflict in Syria. When you look at all of that, how much more can they absorb?”

He spoke with The Guardian about how the four year war in Syria, siege of Yarmouk, and continuous blockade of Gaza has all led to the depletion of UNRWA’s finances and Palestinians facing the greatest crisis since the Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

In the past four years, about 60,000 Palestinians have left Syria and joined long-term refugees who have lived in camps in Jordan and Lebanon for decades.

Krahenbuhl has gone to the E.U. and U.K. government to secure funding. He believes young people without school will leave them susceptible to radicalization, given the instability in the region. He also believes many refugees may try to migrate to Europe.

UNRWA works with 600,000 Palestinians still in Syria, 2 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, 1.2 million in Gaza, 700,000 in West Bank, and 300,000 in Lebanon. UNRWA is doing great work for people that are in dire circumstances, so one would think it could receive more donations from more donors.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: Seattle Pi, The Guardian
Photo: Flickr

Etta Turner was 16 years old when she traveled to Bolivia as an International Rotary exchange student in 2002. Known for her compassion and commitment to social justice, the teen was prepared to provide for the less fortunate and help them change their lives. What was supposed to be a year away from her home and family in the States, however, turned into a lifetime when Turner was tragically killed in a bus accident.

The following year, in 2003, Turner’s friends and family founded Etta Projects, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the life and service of Turner. The organization works with the people of Montero, Bolivia, helping members of the community lead sustainable lives and achieve improved health conditions. Etta Projects supports projects that provide clean water, healthy food, quality education and stable income.

In the western hemisphere, Bolivia is the second poorest country after Haiti, with nearly 70 percent of its population living in poverty. About 23 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day and 42 percent on less than $2 a day. Furthermore, about 90 percent of Bolivia’s children attend primary school, but only for a year or less: the average literacy rate of a 16-year-old Bolivian is at the third-grade level.

Etta Projects is dedicated to changing these statistics and helping the people of Bolivia. The organization is unique, however, in that it does not simply send money or resources to Bolivia. Rather, it connects with the Bolivian people to understand what they need and teaches them how to personally meet those needs.

To address and eliminate poverty in Bolivia, Etta Projects provides forums in which members of the community can identify their own problems and create plans to solve them. The organization forms strong, fundamental relationships with the communities it helps and the local governments that run them. They use their own resources and the available resources of the community to empower the communities to tackle their problems and issues.

The organization has five main projects: safe water and sanitation, health, nutrition, leadership and U.S. community outreach. Etta Projects is making a lasting difference in many Bolivian lives by listening to community needs, providing resources to meet those needs and leaving the community with valuable skills to lead sustainable lives. Miss Turner’s legacy of compassion and social justice absolutely lives on in the mission of Etta Projects.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Etta 1, Etta 2, Etta 3
Photo: Doctors Without Borders

UNICEFAt an event presented by FC Barcelona and UNICEF, soccer players Andrés Iniesta and Marc-André Ter Stegen met with Los Angeles kids to discuss the importance of children’s education.

The FC Barcelona players shared with the kids their thoughts and memories of playing soccer during their school days. Iniesta and Ter Stegen donned their red, yellow and blue team colors during the meeting and answered questions after their initial comments.

On the players’ jerseys, the UNICEF logo can be seen, signifying FC Barcelona’s involvement and association with the organization. Iniesta, FC Barcelona’s midfielder, said that he is proud to be linked with an important organization like UNICEF.

“For us as individuals, and as a club, it’s an honor to wear the jersey because of the values that UNICEF represents,” he said.

In addition, Iniesta voiced his and UNICEF’s similar opinions about the value of education in children’s lives.

“Alongside UNICEF, we want to reinforce the importance of providing the most vulnerable children with access to education,” Iniesta said. “Especially as parents, we are aware that children are the most precious things in our lives. It’s difficult knowing that there are children in other countries who don’t have the same opportunities.”

In agreement with his teammate, Ter Stegen, the team’s goalkeeper, noted the significance of education with his personal testimony.

“I had a lot of coaches and each of them advised me how to reach my goals,” he said. “But it’s not enough to have coaches or just to play soccer: education has been really important for me.”

UNICEF’s choice to partner with FC Barcelona was a strategic one. According to Quora, a question and answer website, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. An estimated 3.5 billion people are either fans of the sport or watch the sport.

By teaming up with one of the most popular clubs in professional soccer, UNICEF gains an unfathomable amount of notoriety by people who have the ability to make a change.

UNICEF and FC Barcelona first began their partnership in September 2006, and since then, the FC Barcelona Foundation has donated more than 12 thousand euros, or a little over $13,000.

The programs put in place by the organizations have aided in improvements in health for several countries in Africa and South America where sports are an integral part of a child’s physical and mental development. UNICEF and FC Barcelona have helped create better education systems for children and greater training programs for teachers.

Albert Soler, Director of Professional Sports of FC Barcelona, said that these projects have created a monumental amount of educational opportunity.

“Through these programs, more than 300,000 children are being reached,” Soler said.

According to a New York Times article, students who play sports in school tend to perform better later in life.

“Participating in sports, like playing in the school band or competing on the debate team, are cognitively and organizationally demanding activities that help convey self-discipline and leadership skills,” the article said.

In agreement with The New York Times, U.S. Fund for UNICEF Regional Managing Director, Amber Hill, said that the power of sports has helped children all over the world receive an education that fosters the skills needed to succeed.

“All children have the right to learn,” Hill said. “The focus of the FC Barcelona and UNICEF partnership is creating a world inspired by the power of quality education, where sports and play are key elements in the development of all children.”

With the help of Iniesta, Ter Stegen and all of the UNICEF and FC Barcelona supporters, thousands of children are receiving a quality education. Sports have always played an important role in a child’s development. Now it can be said that sports, like soccer, have helped children succeed in education and in life.

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: FC Barcelona, Look to the Stars, The New York Times, Quora
Photo: Flickr

Malala_FundActivist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai is pressuring world leaders to annually invest $39 billion more to ensure primary and secondary education is a right for all children. This is part of the upcoming U.N. Sustainable Development Goals meeting in September in New York.

Goal 4 of the proposed SDGs is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.” By 2030, the U.N. hopes to ensure that primary and secondary education is free and easily accessible, as well as more equal for boys and girls.

Malala spoke at the Oslo education summit in July, urging leaders to invest in SDG 4 in order to reduce gender disparities and the negative outcomes of non-enrolled children. If the world can meet the goal by 2030, and every girl attends primary and secondary education, child marriage rates would decrease 64 percent and under 5-year-old child deaths would decrease 49 percent.

“In fact, and unfortunately, $39 billion is spent on [the] military in only eight days,” she said.

There are many challenges to providing universally free primary and secondary education, even if the $39 billion annual investment goal is reached. Many families send their children to the labor force because they live in extreme poverty, conflict plagues the ability to send children to school, and other countries lack infrastructure and resources to provide effective education.

Currently, the cost of 12 years of free education is $340 billion per year, which means lower-income countries need to invest 20 percent of their budget to education. Right now, the average budget spent on education is 15 percent.

In May 2015, more than 100 countries promised to provide free education to their children by signing the Incheon Declaration in Korea. The agreement will coincide with the SDGs to reach this goal by 2030.

Enrollment in primary education reached 90 percent by 2010, an increase from 82 percent in 1999, but 61 million children remained unenrolled in school. 31 million primary-aged school children dropped out worldwide and 32 million more repeated a grade. The Millennium Development Goals and the World Food Program provided support for the increase but more educational investments are needed to make a significant impact.

The Malala Fund pushes for the empowerment of education for girls. About two-thirds of the women in the world are illiterate. Also, education helps reduce population growth. For example, educated women in Mali have three children on average compared to the average of seven for uneducated women.

Despite the progress made through the MDGs, there are significant gaps between countries and regions.

“Conflicts remain the biggest threat to human development, with fragile and conflict-affected countries typically experiencing the highest poverty rates,” the U.N. said in a statement.

Donald Gering

Sources: Do Something, Huffington Post, IB Times, Malala Fund, UN 1, UN 2, Yahoo News
Photo: Flickr

In 2015, enrollment for higher education in Ethiopia reached only 8%, compared to the 32% global average enrollment rate. While enrollment numbers fall short, Ethiopia’s education system has improved since the end of their civil war in 1991.

Recovering from the damages of civil war is a difficult task and Ethiopia has been successfully making education a top priority. In 1990, 7.5% of government expenditure went to education and in 2009, 23.6% of government expenditure started going to education.

Most of the challenges for the infrastructure of higher education in Ethiopia are due to funding cuts and lecturers being committed to political parties. Anonymous workers at many universities say the schools require students to join the party and that spies report what is being said in the classrooms.

Over the next two years, Ethiopia plans to expand the number of universities to 42, an increase of 40 universities since 2000. The University of Jimma, which opened in 2013, has become one of the top research schools in Africa for materials science and engineering. Materials science and engineering is seen as the one of the most important fields for development and alleviating poverty in Ethiopia.

For primary education, the World Bank helped provide more than 78 million textbooks to students and improved conditions for teaching and learning in 40,000 schools through the General Education Quality Improvement Project. Teachers are becoming more qualified and many more are earning a three-year level diploma level.

Enrollment in primary education rose 500% from 1994 to 2009 with 15.5 million students in school. Today, 67.9% of school-aged children are attending primary school, a dramatic increase since the end of the civil war. Their progress in education exceeds the numbers of other war-stricken countries, such as Liberia, where only 40.6% of children are enrolled in primary school.

USAID is impacting the lives of 15 million children in primary school by improving their reading levels. In 2010, reading performances were low, and one-third of second grade students were non-readers. With the help of USAID, Ethiopia is experiencing an increase in reading and writing skills and more involvement from parents.

As primary and secondary education in Ethiopia strengthens, it is hopeful students will enroll in higher education and take part in PhD programs, which few Ethiopians have a chance to achieve. University of Jimma’s engineering department graduated their first 18 PhD students without any funding from the government.

The university staff volunteered their time to help students with the opportunity of gaining a high degree that will help propel those living in poverty and improve development in Ethiopia.

“You only need a couple of weeks in Ethiopia to realize that materials science is a priority,” says Pablo Corrochano, associate professor at Jimma. “Even in the capital you’ll experience cuts in power and water; in rural areas it’s even worse.”

Donald Gering

Sources: The Guardian, ODI, Social Progress Imperative, USAID, World Bank
Photo: Pathfinder

General Electric Grant to Pay University of Ghana Students' Tuition
A mere three percent of Ghanaians ages 18 to 21 are enrolled in some form of higher education. Nearly 80 percent of Ghana’s population survives on less than $2 per day, and university tuition is far from affordable for most.

However, thanks to a $100,000 General Electric grant, tertiary education will become a little more accessible for impoverished students in Ghana.

The University of Ghana, one of the country’s top-ranking institutions of higher learning, is the recipient of this grant. With 29,754 current students, the University of Ghana is both the largest and oldest public university in the country. It is one of six public tertiary educational institutions in Ghana, which, along with the 11 private post-secondary schools, make up Ghana’s university offerings.

According to the University of Sussex in Ghana, “46.6 percent of the nation’s income/expenditure is enjoyed by the richest 20 percent of the population, whereas the poorest 20 percent have access to only 5.6 percent of national income/expenditure.”

Access to education, especially secondary and post-secondary schooling can often become a luxury of the wealthy, entrenching patterns of poverty. Herein lies the importance of scholarships designated for financially disadvantaged students.

A well-instructed population benefits developing countries on a variety of levels. Education gives individuals a tool for socioeconomic mobility while also developing a knowledgeable and skilled workforce resource. This “human capital” is exactly the sort of resource Mr. Leslie Nelson, CEO of General Electric, Ghana, hopes to foster through ongoing partnerships with Ghanaian universities.

Education is an important part of development for impoverished countries. In Ghana, primary school enrollment is on the rise and literacy remains comparatively high for the region with youth literacy rising above that of adults. Although poverty still remains prevalent, these statistics offer a heartening glimpse of future developments.

Emma-Claire LaSaine

Sources: UG, AllAfrica, Sussex
Photo: How Africa

Much has been made of the gains that education has made in the developing world recently. Primary school attendance is up and education parity has been met in many countries. While quality still lags up to 100 years behind the developed world, a new phenomenon could change that.

Technology-aided education, ed tech, has the potential to change the way education is understood and delivered around the world. In a world of exploding high education prices and more technical demands in the working world, especially for skills in programming and developing, ed tech is on the rise.

The spread of the Internet has helped to make this possible. was recently bought by LinkedIn and provides online tutorials and classes on anything from photography to programming. A paid subscription is required to access most of them, but the potential is there to change the way learning is done in the classroom. Another company, Udemy, offers similar classes on Java, Excel and HTML. Fifty percent of the company’s revenue comes from outside of the U.S.

These online courses present easy access to learning opportunities. If governments or schools can provide for subscription costs, they can unlock a huge wealth of knowledge for a great many people.

With the spread of mobile phones throughout the developing world, they too have had a role to play in education. Education can be an equalizer, and with more and more people having access to phones they in turn have more and more access to it.

Different mobile-based services offer a variety of educational opportunities. Dr. Math enables both primary and secondary school students to request help in real-time from volunteer tutors using MXit, a popular platform for social messaging in South Africa. MobiLiteracy aims to improve literacy at home in countries where teachers are often stretched thin in the classroom. A pilot program was kicked off in Uganda last year with help from USAID.

Interestingly, MobiLiteracy targets adults before children. It offers daily reading lessons by SMS or audio. This raises an important point about ed tech: since it is mostly based outside the classroom and accessed either by the Internet or mobile phones, the knowledge is open to anyone. Students can use it to supplement their learning or to help with homework, teachers can use it to their advantage in the classroom and adults can continue their education outside the classroom or even begin an education they never had.

With access to resources like Udemy, people in the developing world can have the chance to get an education that they might not have access to otherwise. In this ever-evolving world where much value has been put on university degrees as prerequisites for employment, the ability to acquire knowledge for less or no fee is valuable. If an individual can perform a certain skill such as program a website, it does not matter as much where that person went to school or how high their GPA was. All that is needed is Internet or a mobile phone, some motivation and a dream. With continued development, ed tech can be the next big thing in global education.

Greg Baker

Sources: Tech Crunch 1, Tech Crunch 2, The Guardian, Brookings
Photo: Newsanywhere

Eradicating global poverty is a goal that not only transcends borders, ideologies and religions – it is also intricately related to other critical development goals outlined by the U.N. in the Millennium Development Goals. One issue closely tied to international poverty is the absence of access to basic, quality education in many developing countries. The relationship between education and poverty has become increasingly clear over the years, and addressing global education needs inevitably addresses global poverty as well. Here are ten startling facts relating education and poverty:

1. Expanding access to basic, quality education would spur a 12 percent drop in world poverty.
It is estimated that 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all individuals in developing nations left school with basic reading skills. However, estimates suggest that 250 million children still fail to learn basic reading skills in school, and 121 million children are not in school at all.

2. An individual’s earnings increase by 10 percent on average for each year of school completed.
Increasing the number of years that students receive quality education increases their income and pulls them out of poverty. Education in this way demonstrates a ripple effect because as earnings increase, more money is inserted into the local economy, and everyone reaps the benefits.

3. For every US$1 spent on education, US$10-$15 is generated in economic growth.
This means that allocating appropriate aid towards increasing access to education actually saves money in the long-term. However, the percentage of humanitarian aid dedicated to education is steadily dropping.

4. Education for girls and women is especially important.
When an educated woman’s income increases (as it will by 20 percent for each extra year of education), it has been shown that she will reinvest over 90 percent of her earnings in her family and community. It is estimated that by investing in secondary education for girls and women, 3 million lives could be saved. However, 62 million girls around the world are still not in school.

5. No country has obtained rapid economic growth without a literacy rate of at least 40 percent.
Around 781 million adults are illiterate, two-thirds of which are women. Illiteracy makes many things — reading a prescription bottle to signing a contract — virtually impossible and drastically reduces the ability of the individual to gain meaningful employment with a living wage.

6. About 75 million young people are unemployed.
This is a number that could be significantly reduced by increasing access to basic education in developing countries.

7. Countries that experience 20-30 percent surges in literacy rates through increased education see simultaneous surges in GDP of 8-16 percent.
Countries, not just individuals, are lifted out of poverty through increased education.

8. Each additional year of schooling raises annual GDP by 0.37 percent.
By focusing on providing quality education to citizens, nations can improve their international financial performance enormously.

9. School fees, where families must pay to enroll their children in primary school, remains a huge problem in developing nations.
The lack of funding dedicated to education means that many countries cannot afford to provide free, quality, public education. Many families that are already struggling to provide necessities such as food simply cannot afford to pay the price of a quality education for their children.

10. The poorest children are five times less likely to complete primary school than the richest children.
Being born into the poorest 20 percent of households worldwide often means that the child receives very little education, creating a vicious cycle from which it is very difficult to escape.

While huge progress has been achieved towards universal, quality education around the world, much remains to be done — for the sake not only of the children receiving schooling but for the world in general.

– Melissa Pavlik

Sources: United Nations, Basic Education Coalition, UNESCO 1, UNESCO 2
Photo: MacArthur Foundation

Decades of conflict have denied millions the right to education in South Sudan. Currently, about one million primary school-age children are not in school, and only 10% of those who enter actually complete a primary school education. Seventy percent of children ages 6 to 17 have never attended school at all, and gender and wealth gaps play a huge role in preventing some children from ever accessing education.

Even before violence broke out across the young nation in December 2013, schools were basic and ineffective. But now, the situation is even more dire—in the worst effected states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity, 70% of the schools have closed. In some counties, no schools are currently open.

Five decades of civil war left a generation of adults who never had the opportunity to attend school in South Sudan. This is one major factor behind South Sudan’s adult literacy rate of 27%—one of the worst in the world. Only 2% of the adult population has completed primary school, meaning that many teachers in South Sudan never received a comprehensive education themselves. This has resulted in poor quality of instruction and a lack of official training in areas such as effective classroom management. Furthermore, schools themselves lacked important resources, from sturdy building materials, to textbooks.

Violence over the past year and a half has worsened the situation. Soldiers have re-purposed school buildings, and there is a deficit of teachers. Some teachers have been killed or forced to flee, while others have become involved in the conflict. 400,000 children have been forced out of school. Many have been displaced due to the violence, and when they fled for their safety, they had no choice but to put their education on hold.

In April 2006, the government’s “Go to School” initiative—one of the world’s most rapid reconstruction programs—enabled more than 1.6 million children to enroll in school, but the conflict has reversed some of this progress. Recent surveys have shown that citizens see education as a top priority, as it could be a path to peace for the country, and many groups are still working to improve the education system in South Sudan.

UNICEF began their Back to Learning Campaign in South Sudan in November 2014, and they have reached 121,000 children so far. They hope to reach 400,000 by December 2015. They are currently running two programs: the Integrated Education in Emergencies program for internally displaced students, and the Basic Education Package, which can be utilized by any child who is out of school.

South Sudan also has an Alternative Education Program, which initially began for soldiers but is now open to anyone. Many adults who never had access to education as children are utilizing the program. Furthermore, aid agencies are encouraging more women to attend school. South Sudan is still struggling in many areas, but with more students returning to school, education can become a means to further developing the nation.

Jane Harkness

Sources: The Guardian, IRIN Africa, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2
Photo: SBS