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Education in Bangladesh
On May 26, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made an impassioned speech at the convocation of Kazi Nazrul University. She addressed education in Bangladesh and it’s ongoing struggle to eradicate extreme poverty, claiming “to get rid of poverty, education should be of the utmost importance.”

Playing a Role in Poverty

There is evidence to back up Hasina’s statement that education in Bangladesh plays a crucial role in the welfare of the economy. According to the Global Campaign for Education, the average individual’s income increases by 10 percent for each year of schooling they complete. A study by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Institute of Statistics even found that if every adult attained a full primary and secondary education, the number of people living in poverty worldwide would be less than half of what it is today.

Why such a strong correlation between poverty and education? The simplest answer is when someone is well-educated, they have more skills (or can learn skills more easily) that can be used in the workforce. This makes them more likely to be employed and have a steady income.

But there are less obvious reasons explaining how enhancing education in Bangladesh may help its citizens escape poverty. Studies show the more education a woman receives, the fewer children she is likely to have. This means she won’t have to spend as much to provide for her family. If this trend continues on a large scale then the population will decline, resulting in more employment opportunities and less strain on resources.

Education in Bangladesh

Bangladesh currently ranks 128th in global literacy with 72.8 percent of its population aged 15 or older being literate, compared to the 86 percent average worldwide. The most recent data shows 24 percent of people aged 15-24 in Bangladesh have not completed primary education and 44 percent have not completed secondary education.

Women Empowerment

In 2010, the government implemented a new national education policy focusing on gender equality in education in Bangladesh. Some of the measures included greater allocation of funds specifically toward women’s education, stipends for underprivileged women who wish to pursue higher education and a reformation of the cultural attitude toward women in school and the workplace. This is an issue Hasina has been outspoken about, stating that proper education is necessary in order to empower women.

The 2010 national education policy also pushed for students to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology. These fields are of the highest importance in today’s fast-paced world, and educating students about them in school means they will be better prepared for the tech-driven workforce. In this way, Bangladesh hopes to stay ahead of the curve, unlike many other African nations still relying on agriculture as their economic foundation.

The World Bank reports that nearly 25 percent of Bangladeshis are currently living at or below the poverty line (surviving on $1.90 per day). Steps still need to be taken to lift the Bangladeshi people out of this struggle. But the Hasini administration has the right idea about how to help, and if there is a strong enough push for education in Bangladesh, it just might be on the road to eradicating extreme poverty.

– Maddi Roy

Build AfricaBuild Africa is a nonprofit organization that believes “in the power of education to help end poverty. [We] work to give children the education they need and fight the inequalities that stand in their way.” The organization believes that all children have the right to an education for a prosperous and happy life. Education ends poverty by building opportunities and growth, and Build Africa provides the schools and the resources necessary for education to become a top priority.

Build Africa currently works in Kenya and Uganda. Some of its accomplishments include:

  1. Helping vulnerable girls gain access to a better education in 72 schools.
  2. Improving 65 schools in Uganda in early learning for young children.
  3. Giving 4,000 parents access to vital basic financial services.
  4. Establishing 11 farmers’ networks throughout Kenya.

On the grassroots level of Build Africa, the ultimate goal is to have “every child learning.” Learning the skills they need in order to thrive, such as basic reading and writing, can oftentimes be difficult for children, particularly if that child faces challenges such as working to improve household income, long distances that could potentially be dangerous, or just being a girl. With Build Africa, locals are trained to be staff members to work personally with the children in the schools, meaning they can adjust perspectives and truly get to know the child they are helping. Lesson plans can range from math and reading to basic financial skills and growing sustainable crops.

Applying real-life scenarios in classrooms allows for the students to connect and relate school with their own lives. In other words, they are actually retaining and repeating what they have done in school in their everyday lives. Emphasizing life skills like cooking and doing taxes, rather than making children memorize ordinary academic standards, better prepares these children for the real world.

Build Africa strives to “improve access to education for children and improve the quality of education received.” Quality education on basic life skills leads to independence and more opportunities. One of Build Africa’s most recent projects is called the Parallel Learning Project, a literacy program for young mothers in Western Uganda, where there is a very low female literacy rate. According to the Director-General of UNESCO, if a mother is able to read, her child is twice as likely to survive beyond five years of age.

The outcomes the organization hopes to achieve are:

  1. Communities actively supporting young mothers
  2. A safe area where young mothers have access to healthcare services and trainings
  3. Young women learning to read and write as they learn childcare techniques.

Build Africa is creating change within communities by simply providing education. Whether it be in a school or in a daycare center, knowledge is knowledge, and its long-term effects are nothing but positive.

– Irimar Waters

Photo: Flickr

The Fight Against Child Labor in Gaza: Organizations Unite
As organizations unite, the fight continues against child labor in Gaza. The ongoing power struggle between the Israeli government and Hamas has led to adverse effects on the 1.8 million population of Gaza, with nearly 80 percent of the population relying on foreign aid. Children have been burdened by the combined effects of child labor and penurious standards of living. As a result, the plight of youth has deteriorated in Gaza.

The situation has especially been exacerbating since the Israeli blockade on the Gaza strip.

An analysis conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) highlighted that child labor in Gaza has risen. The Jerusalem Post has additionally reported that a large proportion of the children are below the legal age of 15.

With rising food prices and varying degrees of income disparity, the situation has furthermore declined. The deficiency in the labor market has made it hard for people to find work. As a result, child labor in Gaza continues to be an ongoing issue as young children are forced to work for meager amounts to support their families without insurance.

“I work to help him (my father) earn a living. My brother also works to help him. The situation is not good. We don’t have money to pay to paint our home and not even to buy a ball. We don’t have anything. My salary is not enough,” said Mahmoud Yazji in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

Neighboring countries have taken on the humanitarian initiative and many organizations strive to help these vulnerable children. Here are just a few of the organizations:

  • Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization
    A convoy from the Organization regularly delivers medical supplies. It has collectively contributed a massive $40 million to Gaza since 2009 and has renewed hope for nearly 600,000 Gaza residents with the efficient health care services.
  • Turkish Red Crescent
    The inception of the first aid station by the Turkish Red Crescent will benefit many in Karara. Moreover, the recent steadfast Israel-Turkey deal has greatly helped bolster the transportation of aid. Five hundred trucks have so far made their way through the disputed territories with the supervision of the Turkish Red Crescent.
  • Additionally, the organization SOS Children’s Villages has been providing care and early education to young children in Rafah since 1999. Their Youth Home has also helped young people with basic training to adjust to the challenges that adult life entails.
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has also taken on this effort by providing a high level of education to the youth in Gaza. They have garnered expertise in this field over the last three years.
  • Gaza’s Social Affairs Ministry of Labor has conducted and organized initiatives that will aid in making the youth more self-sufficient by teaching them essential skills like carpentry and sewing.

Such efforts are aimed at encouraging the youth and increasing the propensity to remain in school. Increasing literacy rates are also vital to make the youth competitive for the labor market. This is vital because the youth unemployment rate now stands at 60 percent.

Moreover, The El-Wedad Society for Community Rehabilitation is spearheading the push for children’s rights by visiting families and emphasizing the vitality of education through seminars and sessions.

Strengthening the insurance policy and increasing the bargaining power of the youth is also essential to help combat the issue. Businesses who use means of exploitation and child labor should be blacklisted by the U.N. to accentuate the magnitude of the violation.

A possible cessation of hostilities between the Hamas and the Israeli government does not seem likely, especially after the revolts that rocked 2014. However, the widespread impact of such progressive endeavors will take some time to reach the heart of every youth in Gaza.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

code
While the UN recently approved the Sustainable Development Goals in January 2016, eradicating poverty and combating climate change are considered the top two global problems. More than ever before, computer science education will be crucial for students in low-income communities in order to avoid poverty.

In today’s world of technology, it is imperative for students to become exposed to computer technology at a young age.

To ensure children learn about computer technology at an early age, New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced that within 10 years, all students attending the city’s public schools would be required to take computer science courses.

New York City plans to spend $81 million over the next 10 years and estimates training 5,000 teachers in the field, which could be a potential issue.

“The difficulty is getting enough teachers who are trained in it, and trained well enough to make it a good introduction to computer science,” said Barbara Ericson, the director of computing outreach at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing. “And if you are well-trained in computer science, you can make a lot more money in industry than teaching.”

Of the $81 million needed, half of the money will be raised through private sources, including the Robin Hood Foundation and venture capitalist Fred Wilson.

Interestingly, a survey done by Google found that many poor parents want their children to learn computer science education so they have the opportunity to lead a better life.

While 15.3 percent of New York City lives in poverty, the opportunity for these students to be exposed to computer science at a young age could change the course of poverty and their futures.

“Stimulating the curiosity of today’s young students for math and science is critical for creating tomorrow’s physicists, mathematicians and cosmologists,” said Rocky Kolb, Dean of the Physical Sciences Division at University of Chicago.

With knowledge of computer education, students have the opportunity to attend college studying the field and could possibly work in New York City’s fastest growing technology sector.

“If we can get them earlier, I think we can get them excited about it,” Mr. Wilson said.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: Gigaom, NY Times, United States Census, University of Chicago,
Photo: blogs.perficient

stem_education
There are countless efforts being made and programs being conducted across the globe to alleviate global poverty. Most of these address immediate concerns that go along with the crisis: improving medical care, providing food, building shelter and bringing in energy. However, in order to fully put an end to global poverty, proactive measures must be put into place. Many experts are calling for major investments in science education in developing parts of the world in order to empower generations to come by helping them move forward and out of their economic hardships.

Countries that invest in science and technology sectors will reduce income inequality, alleviate extreme poverty and improve national health. Experts state that 3.5 percent of a country’s GDP should be invested in science, technology and innovation (STI) industries. The problem is, however, that many developing countries have little to no STI sector in their economies. The way to build these sectors is through science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, or STEM education for short.

There are two major ways that STEM education is being implemented to aid the developing world. The first is through aid programs on the ground in developing countries. Companies like Intel and Microsoft have been investing in science and technology schools throughout Africa and Latin America. The companies are working in conjunction with programs like Women in Science, Engineers without Borders and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide science education to thousands of young people.

The second way STEM is being implemented to aid the developing world is occurring right here at home. The U.S. is home to the largest number of foreign undergraduates in the world, many of whom come to study STEM subjects. Dartmouth University stands out in particular. The Ivy League school has just launched a $35 million King Scholarship program, which seeks foreign students who wish to study with the intention of alleviating poverty in their home countries. Scholarships are given to candidates who themselves come from rural, developing areas of the world.

A better-informed society has better access to food, water, improved shelter and efficient sustainable energy. The only way to create a more informed society is through education. Poverty relief is necessary for a better world, and in the current state, poverty-stricken nations are reliant on foreign aid. But there is a chance that one day, through education, these nations can become empowered and self sufficient in tackling this global crisis.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Reuters, Take Part, Huffington Post
Photo: Take Part

How International Education Through the HCED Benefits Iraq-TBP
Higher education in Iraq has suffered greatly over the past two decades.

Iraq once had a secular, inclusive education system that was both open to women and globally connected. But the university system has effectively collapsed since the international sanctions regime of the 1990s and the US invasion of 2003. The war has left universities stripped of important resources, and the De-Baathification process removed many influential leaders from academia. Countless cultural artifacts and documents have been stolen from universities and often destroyed, and professors have been killed or abducted. Female students have been targeted by extremist groups, keeping them from accessing education. It is estimated that Iraq would need between 1.2 to two billion dollars to restore their higher education system.

To help Iraqi students continue their education in the face of conflict and remain competitive with the rest of the world, Prime Minister Noori Al Malki launched the Initiative in Iraq. The goal of this program was to send 10,000 Iraqi students to foreign universities over five years. To accomplish this, former secretary general of Iraq’s council of ministers Zuhair Humadi formed the Higher Committee for Education Development in Iraq. Since 2009, the program has sent 4,000 students abroad to study for their master’s and doctorates in the US, UK, and Australia. Funding has been secured for thousands more.

So far, the students admitted to the program have excelled. Forty-two were recognized for publishing work in UK science journals, and many have been offered tenure after completing their degrees. Furthermore, Iraq has not experienced a “brain drain” because of the HCED: only 10 of the 300 graduates did not return to Iraq upon graduation.

Some are concerned that the funding for HCED should be redistributed to other areas in which Iraq is struggling, such as the healthcare system. But, education is the key to progress and hope for future generations, and Humadi believes the program’s funding is entirely justified. Other flaws in the program include the fact that women only account for 25 percent of scholars, and students from rural areas are largely underrepresented. HCED can work on expanding their outreach so that young adults from marginalized groups have access to the same opportunities.

Currently, about $200 million in scholarships is available for Iraqi students studying abroad through various programs, from the Fulbright Scholar Program to Holland’s Middle East and North Africa Scholarship Program. With a strong effort towards reviving Iraq’s university system, Iraqi students can continue to better themselves and their country by accessing higher education.

Jane Harkness

Sources: Brown University, The Guardian, HCED, ICEF Monitor
Photo: UNCG

education_and_poverty
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