Access to Education
Education remains an unreachable right for millions of children around the globe. Currently, upward of 72 million children in the primary education age (five to 12 years) are not in school and 759 million adults are illiterate. There are a plethora of reasons why such a large number of children in lower income countries do not receive the adequate education at the primary school level. Below are just some of the factors driving a lack of access to education:

  • There aren’t enough schools. Many of the poorest countries in the world do not have access to the adequate financial resources necessary to create schools. Providing schooling materials along with recruiting and training teachers cost money, and aid from fellow countries generally is not sufficient enough to establish an education system for all children.
  • There is a low value of education. Many times in remote areas of the world, children who belong to the indigenous population are more trained at finding food and livelihood for themselves rather than focusing on education. Due to this, they are never taught the value and importance of education.
  • The geographical location is not ideal for schooling. This includes things like severe weather conditions, rough terrain and lack of transportation. For example, children in the Philippines have to walk miles before they can reach the nearest primary school. Some areas in India meanwhile are just too stiff to climb and for transportation to pass.
  • Many families cannot afford school and are oftentimes forced into child labor. Over 300 million children between the ages of five and 17 years are engaged in employment worldwide. Most of these children work to financially support their families making child labor a significant contributor to high numbers of them being out of school. Parents, as well as governments, are more concerned about other important things like finding food, shelter and water for the families.
  • Minority groups are often excluded or forgotten. Specific groups find themselves marginalized while their children are deprived of education opportunities. This tends to happen either because of passive underinvestment by the government in particular geographies where the ethnic minorities are concentrated or because of active discrimination.
  • Conflict within a country overruns the opportunities for education. Children in war-ridden countries don’t have a chance to go to school and be educated. Child refugees caught in war and conflict spend the majority of their young lives in refugee camps. Instead of spending time in a classroom learning, they are caught in the middle of chaos which they do not deserve.

Access to schools is the first step toward increasing the right to an education for all children on a global level. Taking steps to resolve the hindering factors driving the lack of access to education will be crucial in overcoming education’s inaccessibility to so many young minds.

Keaton McCalla

Photo: Flickr

Children born in poverty

Five Facts About Children Born in Poverty

  1. UNICEF estimates that 39 percent of children in low and middle-income countries are living in extreme poverty. These children born in poverty must survive on less than $1.25 a day. From education to food security, severe poverty impacts nearly every aspect of a child’s life. According to UNICEF, “Nearly half of all deaths in children under five are attributable to undernutrition.” It is estimated that over three million children die every year from hunger.
  2. In countries like Madagascar, the only meal many children receive in a day is school lunch. Malnutrition also causes children to be more susceptible to illnesses like malaria, pneumonia and measles. Several organizations like UNICEF, USAID and Save the Children have programs to provide adequate nutrition to children in developing countries.
  3. A 2015 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank Group estimated 400 million people were without access to basic healthcare throughout the world. Approximately nine million children under the age of five die yearly. The WHO estimates 70 percent of these deaths are preventable with better access to medical care.
  4. The U.N. reports that children comprise half of the world’s refugee population. These children come from conflict-ridden countries like Syria, Sudan and Iraq and many are internally displaced. Access to adequate healthcare, education and shelter are all challenges refugee children must face. Many of these children lost their entire family to violence within their home countries.
  5. Children born in poverty are also more likely to be affected by mental health problems. Even in developed countries like the U.S., long-term financial stress is linked to poor mental health. Rates of anxiety and depression are higher among low-income individuals. The loss of close family members can also increase the likelihood of adverse mental health for children born in poverty.

Poverty is a cyclical condition and education is crucial to ending chronic poverty. Children born to low-income families are statistically likely to remain impoverished due to a lack of education and opportunities.

The U.N. reports that between the years of 1994 and 2009, “Rural households where the household head had completed primary education were 16 percent less likely to be chronically poor.”

These promising statistics are the driving force behind government-led programs and NGOs to increase access to education.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Pixabay


The subject of forced migration, especially related to refugees, is a major topic in current news and politics across the world. Columbia University defines forced migration as “the movements of refugees and internally displaced people (those displaced by conflicts within their country of origin) as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects.” Below are 10 facts about forced migration:

  1. Columbia University states that the three most common causes of displacement are conflict, development and disaster.
  2. Refugees are defined as individuals forced out of their home country due to persecution or armed conflict. Refugees are those recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  3. The most recent UNHCR report, published in 2014, stated there are 19.5 million refugees worldwide. The majority of refugees in 2014 were children. The U.N. reports 51 percent of refugees to be under the age of 18.
  4. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are individuals who are forcibly
    migrated within their own countries. The UNHCR reports there are over 38 million people classified as IDPs.
  5. The 2014 Global Trends Report estimated 42,500 people being displaced daily within and outside of their home countries.
  6. Asylum-seeking individuals are those who have migrated across borders for protection but are not yet recognized as refugees. The U.N. reported 1.66 million people as asylum-seekers in 2014. 159,000 new asylum-seekers were reported halfway through 2015.
  7. The UNHCR Global Trends Report for 2015 is expected to show record breaking numbers related to forced migration. Mid-2015 data estimated the number of refugees to be 20.2 million. For the full year, the total number of individuals who have experienced forced displacement is expected to exceed 60 million for the first time in history.
  8. As of 2014, 86 percent of refugees are hosted by developing countries. Turkey hosted the largest amount of refugees (1.6 million) worldwide during this year.
  9. Syria became the largest source of refugees since 2014 due to the current conflict between the government and rebel forces.
  10. The UNHCR states that the ability for refugees to return safely to their homes has decreased to an estimate of 84,000 as of mid-2015. The report states, “if you become a refugee today your chances of going home are lower than at any time in more than 30 years.”

Forced migration has been a major issue for quite some time now. Although countries around the world have stepped in to help refugees and other displaced individuals, these facts further prove that it will take much more to reduce these numbers.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: U.N. Multimedia

The remote Nyarugusu refugee camp in Western Tanzania has seen a sharp rise in child refugees from the neighboring country to the east. Children have been flooding over the border to escape violence surrounding the recent elections in Burundi.

The amount of Burundian child refugees arriving to the camp increased from about 1600 at the end of May to approximately 2600 by July 19th.

The children are not just arriving in larger numbers according to Lisa Parrott, interim country manager of Save the Children Tanzania, but they are also reaching the camp in much worse shape physically and mentally, most having walked for days with nothing but the clothes on their backs and no food or water. Many have witnessed atrocious acts of violence in their homes and along the way to Tanzania. Some of the children have even seen their own parents or other family members murdered by militia.

On July 21 2015, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunzizain won re-election after running for a third term. In the wake, violence erupted and gunfire rang out. These elections had been hotly protested with President Pierre Nkurunzizain’s opposition claiming that he was not eligible to run again. After the elections, the opposition boycotted the vote and fighting in the country intensified.

The child refugees arriving at the Nyarugusu refugee camp are not eating properly and are having terrible problems sleeping and interacting with others. About a fifth are infants with severe signs of malnutrition, anemia, malaria, diarrhea and other conditions.

The Nyarugusu camp has become one of the biggest settlements in the world comprised of mostly the Congolese who have lived in the camp since the 1990s. At 60,000 people, the already overcrowded camp has more than doubled with almost 80,000 Burundians entering over the years and the recent influx of children has only made the camp more strained.

The overflow of the population is being housed in churches and schools, causing fears that schools will not be able to operate, starving more children of a valuable education. Competition for resources such as food rations, shelter, cooking facilities and firewood, clothing, health care, and clean water intensifies every day with tensions running high.

Save the Children, an organization working in developing nations to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives, believes that every child has the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Save the Children is on the ground in Tanzania and, with the help of local partners, are setting up child health services such as constructing Temporary Learning Centers (TLC) and creating Child Friendly Places (CFP), expected to reach 1200 children.

Life in refugee camps like Nyarugusu is difficult for thousands of people already mired in extreme poverty, but with groups like Save the Children, those seeking refuge from increasing violence in surrounding communities can find some relief and access to basic human needs.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: Save the Children, Reuters
Photo: Flickr

Try to imagine back to when you were in elementary school. Most children are happy living without major troubles, or at least children in the United States. Many do not have much to worry about. Most American children are going to school and are living stress-free lives. They are enjoying themselves, playing outside with their friends or playing video games, but the same could not be said for the children of Syria.

Millions on children have been affected by the conflict going on Syria for past three years, 6.5 million, to be exact. Over 2.8 million children are no longer attending school and more then one million are refugees in nearby countries. They no longer live their normal stress-free lives; they do not have “normal” childhoods.

Many Syrian children have endured horrible health issues due to poor sanitation and many are also malnourished. Many also face diseases such as measles and polio due to lack of proper immunizations.

Parents often turn to marrying their daughters off at early ages, as early as 13 years old, so that they do not get molested. Syrian refugee children are more vulnerable to rape and other acts of sexual violence.

In Syria, three million children no longer attend school, mostly because their schools have been destroyed, teachers have left and families are now using schools as homes. Other children quit school to work so that they could help make income to support their families.

The Lebanese government has been trying to help by setting up schools for child refugees but there have been problems such as overcrowding, language barriers and cost of transportation.

UNICEF has been helping since day one and partnering up with others to help. The organization has also immunized more than 20 million children when there was a polio breakout, supplied safe drinking water and provided psychological support.

Save The Children is another organization that has been getting involved and helping child refugees. Anyone could help through UNICEF or Save the Children. Just remember that you would not your children having to go through such horrible living conditions on a day-to-day basis.

– Priscilla Rodarte

Sources: Save the Children, World Vision, UNICEF
Photo: World Vision