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Children in India
Conditions in India are constantly improving and the country has one of the highest rates of poverty reduction. Between the years 2005-06 and 2015-16, India transformed into a lower-middle-income economy by decreasing the number of poor people from 630 million to 360 million. By improving the standard of living, bettering nutrition and increasing public expenditure, India became home to the largest number of people coming out of poverty. While this improvement has greatly boosted India’s economy, children have also undergone positive changes that improved their lives in many aspects.

There are multiple issues children in India face, and although the challenges continue today, many children live a better life than they did 10 years ago. Here are some of the main problems children in India face and the ways in which the conditions have improved.

Education

Due to poverty, overcrowding and the lack of teachers, less than 50 percent of children receive a proper education. However, in the past two decades, the government has worked toward putting more children into schools. For example, India’s Education For All program has helped educate 200 million children, making it one of the biggest elementary education programs in the world. Additionally, this program has put around 20 million children into primary school since 2001. The government hopes to enroll all children in school regardless if they live in urban or rural areas. Ideally, students would complete school up until grade eight. Hundreds of millions of children would be uneducated and not have the opportunities they have now without the help of the government and the program.

Health Issues

Health has always been a serious issue in India, especially up until the 21st century. The gap between the rich and poor caused the poor to have little medical support which, in turn, increased the spreading of diseases. Private sectors, as well as the government, have set out to reduce the spreading of diseases and, so far, it has eliminated yaws, leprosy, Guinea worm and polio. Infant mortality rate, another serious health problem, has been steadily declining over the past decade. The National Family Health Survey taken in 2015-16 indicated that since the previous survey (2005-06), 57 children out of 1,000 died before reaching the age of one. Now, the number has decreased to 41 deaths out of 1,000. The improvements in underweight children younger than five years have also decreased from 42.5 percent in 2005-06 to 35.7 percent in 2015-16. These health improvements are continuing to help the lives of many children and families.

Violence

Inequality between males and females has caused violence to emerge toward women and girls alike. Violence, abuse and exploitation are all serious struggles faced by many, and UNICEF, along with many other programs and organizations, has been acting to prevent such brutality. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has begun to standardize the response to sexual violence. The government has also recently launched the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) which protects all children in the country.

A lack of education, health issues and violence continue to threaten the wellbeing of children in India, but through government legislation and the work of NGOs, these conditions have been improving. If all goes well, they will continue to improve.

– Veronica Bodenstein
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Cote d’Ivoire
When facing the prevalence of gender gap issues in the media today, the increase of eligibility for basic education, especially for young girls, has been a glaring and globally spread issue.

Over the past decade, however, Cote d’Ivoire has made extensive strides in trying to bridge this gap within the country’s borders. This West African country, although not at the forefront of the headlines, has had many successes that have been the model for many more developing girls education programs to come.

All of the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Cote d’Ivoire presented below are the result of such improvement and a true testament to the power of policymaking in the country.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Cote d’Ivoire

  1. According to the Journal of Education and Learning, Ivory Coast’s Education for All program, whose goal is to implement compulsory education in the country, has made its focus to invest more resources towards marginalized groups including children of disadvantaged socioeconomic groups and especially girls. The success of the program depends on enabling all groups and communities to participate in education.
  2. In 2017, the gross enrollment of female students in pre-preliminary education was greater than that of male students. However, in all other levels of education, the enrollment for girls is at the lower level. On the flip side, the enrollment of girls is constantly increasing.
  3. The National Development Plan for Cote d’Ivoire (2016-2020) highlights the importance of education to the social wellbeing of the country. This plan included a new law that requires children from the ages of 6 to 16 to receive mandatory education furthering the skills of the country’s overall job force. The Plan would also enforce a greater incentive for female enrollment as they usually make up less than 10 percent of those enrolled in schools.
  4. Remarkably for developing countries, according to UNESCO, 89 percent of girls transition successfully from primary to secondary school. In comparison, percent of boys that transition is 95 percent, and the difference of 6 percent among genders is a truly noteworthy feat for the country.
  5. A recent Global Partnership for Education (GPE) grant focuses on a project that would provide and promote higher rates of girls’ education through in-service teacher training, the dissipation of learning materials and a school program with a focus on health and nutrition.
  6. In 2013, only 83.43 percent of female teachers were certified trained teachers. Today, 100 percent of all female teachers are properly trained for their jobs. Through the training of female teachers, girls are more likely to succeed in having both the trained educators and female role models to look up to.
  7. Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), notes that only about 2 percent of girls from rural areas have hope to complete secondary education. The organization has, in response to this problem, put together a program that focuses on reducing such inequalities. One of the most important goals is to facilitate the travel to school for girls who live in rural areas.
  8. In 2007, UNICEF administered 550,000 pupil kits to the targeted schools. More than 50 percent of the help is going towards girls who have little chance of going to school due to gender discrimination. This project had positive national, local radio and television message that promoted all children’s rights to education. The project has been a model for many ongoing projects today.
  9. According to UNICEF, over 72 percent of female adults are able to read. This surpasses the average for sub-Saharan Africa and has proven to have a huge impact on poverty and health in the country.
  10. Ivory Coast’s Education Sector Plan for 2016-2025 foresees quality education for all children by reducing inequalities in provided resources and opportunity based on gender. This new program promotes training in science and technology while especially increasing literacy rates for women.

Although there are many aspects that can be still be improved, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Cote d’Ivoire presented above show that the country has made huge efforts to eradicate the gender gap in education and to enable education for everyone.

With the help of several nongovernmental organizations, the country will continue to make positive strides in the future.

– Sarah Chocron

Photo: Flickr

The READ Act
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), nearly 263 million children and youth around the world are without an education. Of all of the regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the most detrimental number of children out of school – over a fifth of children between the ages of six to 11 and about one-third of children between the ages of 12 to 14. As the children grow older, the rates continue to worsen – almost 60 percent of youth between the ages of 15 to 17 are not receiving an education. The READ Act is a big step forward in the fight to change these numbers.

The Necessity of the READ Act

The UIS and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report show that in Nigeria alone, 8.7 million children who are supposed to be in primary school are not. In Sudan, it is 2.7 million children and in Ethiopia, it is 2.1 million children. These children are not given the chance to thrive and challenge themselves and it is out of their hands due to the vast global poverty they are encompassed in.

Statistics such as this emphasize the importance of laws such as the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act. This act was signed into law in 2017, and it is this law that is providing these 263 million children (130 million of whom are girls) hope for a deserved and promising education.

Bringing the READ Act into Reality

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) first introduced the READ Act into Congress. Both Rep. Lowey and Rep. Reichert are important contributors to the passing of this bill, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

The main causes as to why these 263 million children do not have access to education are conflict and political instability. This law aims to provide education to the children who are in these situations, while simultaneously aiming to improve the overall quality of education. Rep. Reichert commented to World Vision, “By giving young people in impoverished regions the tools to read and write, we will put them down a positive path where they are better able to care for themselves, the needs of their families and their communities.”

The READ Act came about as an idea: what if the United States could make a significant difference by ensuring that every child has an equal and fair opportunity for a safe, quality education? After 13 years of constant due diligence and advocates contacting Congress over 1500 times, today there is widespread global success from this act.

How the READ Act Will Help

UNICEF reports that the READ Act of 2017 “will be tasked with developing a strategy to work with partner countries and organizations to promote basic education in developing countries.” The READ Act creates programs that also promote education as a foundation for economic growth. The act not only recognizes the importance of children having access to a quality education, it emphasizes that the act will create a chain reaction in communities by providing more jobs which will aid in diminishing poverty.

Rep. Lowey stated, “Prioritizing education around the world will not only help students learn to read and write – it will ultimately help protect vulnerable communities from hunger and disease and increase economic advancement, particularly for girls and women.” The READ Act, in providing millions of children around the globe with an education, is generously increasing the chance for these children to find jobs and build stable lives one day as they get older.

It is because of American citizens’ insistence that Congress take action that the READ Act has become an applicable law. More importantly, it is because of the citizens’ efforts that millions of children around the world now have new opportunities open for them and a brighter, more hopeful future to look forward to.

– Angelina Gillispie

To find out more about the past successes of our advocacy work and our current legislative priorities in Congress, head over to our Legislation page.

Photo: Flickr

girls' education in Iraq
Once regarded as having one of the best education systems in the region, Iraq has had a difficult history with its education. From 1970 to 1984, Iraq had achieved multiple accomplishments, such as lowering the rate of illiteracy in children ages six to 12 to less than 10 percent and having an equal inclusion of genders in the classroom. Since then, girls’ education in Iraq has faced significant setbacks. 

How Education in Iraq Fell

The war with Iran in 1980, the Gulf War in the 1990s and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq have greatly damaged the once inspiring education system. With one in five schools destroyed and unusable, teachers having to work double shifts for smaller pay and nearly 3.5 million children irregularly attending, Iraq’s education has hit a low point. Unfortunately, girls’ education in Iraq seems to have been affected the most.

Pushback Against Girls’ Education in Iraq

Many Iraqi families see education as a dangerous thing for their daughters. Through learning critical thinking skills and how to read and write, many families worry that their daughters will fall into an unhappy marriage. With 30 percent of Iraqi girls in rural areas never even attending primary school and illiteracy rates twice as high with women than with men, it is clear that girls’ education in Iraq is of high necessity.

One girl relayed on an Iraqi radio show what her father had told her. “If a girl studies too much, it will just make people get divorced,” she claims he said. “If my daughter goes to university, she will become very stubborn. Her husband won’t like this, and will eventually divorce her.”

Potential for the Future of Education

However, with the battle over the city of Mosul finally coming to an end, education for Iraqi children, especially girls, might finally be improving. UNICEF has been supplying desks, chairs and other necessary supplies to schools where the teachers have long been the ones supplying these needs, even when those teachers have not been paid in three years.

One school receiving help is Saint Abdul Ahed School for Girls. Even though the school has no electricity or running water and only 17 teachers on staff, it manages more than 1,100 girls. Each and every one of the girls is eager and ready to come back to school, though.

Rawan, 11, explained just how important being able to come back to the classroom was for her. “We have to learn to develop our thinking so we can build our future, and our country,” she says.

One teacher at the school shared with UNICEF how enthusiastic her students are. “The kids are overjoyed to come back,” she says. “Education heals.” Saint Abdul Ahed is only one of many schools within Mosul that has been able to reopen thanks to UNICEF. 100 other schools have also been reopened, serving 75,000 children.

While many of these schools deal with overcrowding, lack of electricity and water and overworked teachers with little pay, the dedication to improve girls’ education in Iraq is inspirational. With continued work, young women will soon be able to receive the same rights to education as their male counterparts.

– Marissa Wandzel
Photo: Flickr

fostering academic growth in AfricaThe U.N. states that there are 48 million illiterate young people in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, 60 percent of children aged 15 to 17 are not enrolled in schools. Book Aid International has made it its mission to change this by fostering academic growth in Africa.

 

Education for All

One of the major U.N. Millenium Development goals was to have all school children complete primary level education by 2015. Although this was not achieved universally, there have still been several accomplishments in the sphere of education, and there are more children in schools now than ever before.

The U.N. reports that, from 2000 to 2015, enrollment in primary education rose from 83 percent to 91 percent. Additionally, the literacy rate among youth aged 15 to 24 skyrocketed from 83 percent to 91 percent between 1990 and 2015. One nonprofit located in the U.K., Book Aid International, can be accredited for helping the U.N. achieve these goals.

 

The Gateway to Knowledge

Book Aid International is a firm believer that the gateway to knowledge is through reading. Access to information can prevent children from falling into poverty, increase future job opportunities and improve their life expectancy past the age of five by 50 percent. As a result, Book Aid International has developed a program revolved around the power of books called Inspiring Readers.

Inspiring Readers donates books to schools in Africa where resource scarcity is a major issue. Through this program, schools receive a library of 1,250 new books and selected teachers from the schools receive specialized training to ensure that the books will be well utilized. Inspiring Readers also ensures that each school gets further resources and assistance by partnering up with a local library.

The program has already seen success. One particular Kenyan school that partnered with Book Aid International has received recognition from the community for improved student academic performance. The school stated in 2017 that students’ test scores have improved from 48 percent to 54 percent in Kiswahili, 48 percent to 50 percent in English and 45 percent to 52 percent in science.

 

Fostering Academic Growth in Africa

Overall, Inspiring Readers has brought 63,710 books to 50 schools around Africa. The organization has also trained 150 teachers and 20 librarians. Consequently, 31,343 children have been impacted by this program. However, Book Aid International does not want to stop there. Its goal is to reach 250,000 children by 2020.

Book Aid International estimates that it needs £2,600 per school to achieve this goal. There are many ways to help the nonprofit meet this goal, but it relies mostly on donations for funding. Small amounts of money can make a huge difference, as Book Aid International indicates it only costs £2 to send one book to a partnering school. The organization also accepts donations of new books.

Book Aid International has already made huge strides forward in fostering academic growth in Africa, nurturing children’s interests in reading as well as training teachers to become better motivators and instructors. This will only lead children to success and will ultimately help the U.N. in accomplishing its goal of education for all.

– Mary McCarthy

Photo: Flickr

access to education in ugandaIn the country of Uganda, education is of high concern. Given that there are over 100 students in some classes, the quality of education is severely lacking. In an attempt to focus on quality and learning retention, Uganda has done away with primary entry level examinations. As opposed to the examinations, the focus will now be aimed at ensuring that the quality of teaching is up to par. Any school found violating the ban will face strict repercussions.

The country’s Ministry of Education found that the quality of education on a primary level was lacking. With the country’s overall literacy rate at 70.2 percent, the ban is the result of a desire to shift focus away from exam results and improve teachers’ instruction skills. This step provides a ray of hope for access to education in Uganda.

Because teachers are so crucial in the quality of education, the first focus for access to education in Uganda is teaching capabilities. The Ministry of Education has embarked on massive training program of teachers at all levels, called the Teacher Training Education Project. The project aims not only to train the teachers, but also to make sure that they have the necessary equipment for teaching, and that they are able to be supportive to their colleagues, according to a report on the project by the Ministry of Education.

The ban on entry exams is good news, but there are still other factors that Ugandans must overcome in order to attend school, such as finances. Tuition at the primary level is free; however, families tend to struggle with paying for school-related expenses such as books. Tuition to secondary-level schooling is free only if a student does well on his or her Primary Leaving Exams.

The dissolution of the entry exams is a step in the right direction regarding access to education in Uganda, but there are still many more steps to take in the future. If the country wants to ensure that quality of education endures, further measures, such as continuous teacher training and free schooling and supplies, must be taken.

– Dezanii Lewis

Photo: Flickr

Education in Haiti

Education in Haiti is a critical issue. Haiti is an impoverished country that struggles to educate its youth due to factors including past disasters, social disparity and present economic hardship. A couple facts put this into perspective:

  1. Haiti is the third poorest country in the world, with the majority of the population living on less than $3 a day.
  2. In 2010, 230,000 Haitian lives were taken by a devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince.
  3. More than 400,000 Haitian children are forced to live without the care of their parents.

These factors have destroyed the lives of many Haitians. As a result, education in Haiti is not an economic priority for the Haitian government and only 10 percent of the federal budget is spent on primary and secondary schools. Haiti ranks 177th out of 186 in the world for national spending on education.

Only 76 percent of children in Haiti enroll in primary school; one of the lowest enrollment rates in the world. However, despite the low percentage of educational success, Haitians highly value literacy and proudly wear their school uniforms when they are enrolled in school. However, compared to most other countries, it takes a higher percentage of one’s income to be able go to school, making it difficult for many to attend.

The most prevalent challenges Haitian education faces include funding and teacher training. In the United States, USAID helps fund Haitian education systems. USAID supports 550 schools and strives toward improving early grade reading and writing while helping demonstrate modern instruction to teachers and staff members.

In 2014, the Haitian Minister of Economy and Finance and the World Bank Special Envoy signed a grant of $24 million to help 230,000 children attend school and receive a quality education. This is done through tuition waivers and other means of support under the Education for All project.

The grant helps focus the Haitian government’s priorities on education. It does this by aiming to increase the quality of teaching and continuously focusing on increasing enrollment.

The goals of the Education for All project include

  • Financing more than 420,000 school fee waivers
  • Improving teaching and reading instruction material
  • Constructing of 160 classrooms in community-based school

With the help of the United States and other developed countries, education in Haiti is slowly improving as enrollment rates continue to rise. Hopefully, this trend will continue and thousands of Haitians will be able to wear their school uniforms with pride.

Casey Marx

Photo: Flickr

education_for_all
Education plays a vital role in transforming a developing country into a fully developed nation. By educating the youth, countries are able to ensure a stronger future and promote innovation in their own communities, thus making them more globally competitive and increasing overall quality of life.

The Basic Education Coalition is “an independent, non-profit organization working to ensure children around the world have access to a quality basic education.” Working together with 17 other organizations, the Basic Education Coalition will be a key player in the development of the developing world and the bettering of children’s lives throughout the world.

In 2000, several global leaders founded the Basic Education Coalition with the established goal of Education for All (EFA), with the goal that “all children receive an education that enriches their lives, expands their opportunities, and empowers them to participate in society.” In order to set more distinct goals for themselves, the EFA developed six goals which were then endorsed by several member countries and their leaders.

One EFA goal is to expand and improve the comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for disadvantaged children. The key aspect in this is the provision of both care and education. Often, children in extreme poverty are made to worry about where their next meal will come from, if their parents will come home and if they will be able to survive.

By providing care to these children, these troubles somewhat disappear and they are able to focus on their education, and on being children. Childhood is where a lot of a people’s personality is formed and if the global community raises kind and education-loving children, we are only creating a stronger future for ourselves.

Another key goal of EFA is “eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender parity in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.”

In many developing countries with relatively accessible education platforms, there is a huge gender disparity with boys being much more educated than girls. In the future, this will only lead to increases in population growth, domestic violence and lower self-esteem and self-respect for many women in the developing world.

When young girls are provided with a strong education they are able to gain the confidence to run their own businesses, innovate, support their families and make decisions that benefit their futures.

This has become an increasing focus in the global community and many NGOs have been created solely to help women and girls in developing countries to gain the confidence and education to support themselves.

Some of the other EFA goals include a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy levels by 2015, compulsory education for children, especially girls, and ensuring equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programs.

By teaming up with global leaders and several different countries throughout the world, the Basic Education Coalition has created a buddy system in which every nation must make sure that their counterparts are doing well. By working together, the youth of the world will be able to grow up in a totally different, and much better, world than our own.

Sumita Tellakat

Sources: Basic Ed, Interaction
Photo: Huffington Post

costa_rican_education
Education in Costa Rica has been a hot button topic for many years. In 1990, the country pledged to work toward the targets set out by Education for All (EFA) under the direction of UNESCO. EFA is used to help achieve UNESCO’s education goals of quality education for everyone and for education being a fundamental part of development.

During the first years of the initiative to improve the standards of education in Costa Rica, the country faced numerous challenges. Some of these challenges included students repeating class levels, high drop out rates, and limited training courses for teachers. In addition, it was found that the education system suffered from a lack of innovative, and passionate teachers.

Poverty has also had a significant impact on education in Costa Rica. Families where the parents have less than six years of education tended to have a lower income and their children usually did not finish school. This only perpetuated the cycle and government support was required to improve the system overall.

In addition, providing quality teachers has boosted education goals. The government pays education professionals more to attract young bright high school and college graduates to go into education. It encourages students to finish school and have a decent paying job, which helps break the low-level education and poverty cycle. There are training programs aimed to improve the quality of teachers as well.

In rural areas, there are special programs to compensate for the lack of teachers. There is a movement to bring technology in and have one computer per student. This way the students can complete high school with a quality education.

Currently, Costa Rica has a 93.6 percent rate for access to education. For youth literacy (ages 15-24) there is an average of 98 percent. Primary school attendance is about 96 percent of the youth population. Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates and school attendance in Latin America and South America.

Katherine Hewitt

Sources: Costa Rica Gold Country, HDR, Social Progress Imperative, Tico Times, ASCOA
Photo: Tico Times

Global_Education
The number of children and young adolescents receiving education has worsened in a time when primary and secondary education goals have been put in place, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

In a study released this month, the UIS data for the school year in 2013 shows that 124 million children and young adolescents have either dropped out of school or never started school. This number rose by 2 million since 2011. The number of primary school aged children not in school increased by 2.4 million between 2010 and 2013. Of these 59 million children, 9 percent are denied the right to education. In addition, there are almost 65 million young adolescents not receiving an education.

The UIS study offers two causes to explain the rise in children and young adolescents out of school.

First, areas in Sub-Saharan Africa have struggled to provide schooling to communities with populations of people aged mostly 6 to 15 years. These developing areas have not yet created stable economies to create proper schools and education systems for the majority of their citizens.

The second reason that the UIS focuses on is the grand procedures that were taken by many countries to create greater access to education. These measures launched global education at the start of the century but did little to institute strategies for continual improvement.

To fix this problem, Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director General, agrees with the report that new methods and “serious commitments” must be implemented to reach communities with the least amount of children and young adolescents in school.

“Targeted interventions are needed to reach the most marginalized children and youth who are out of school today, including those with disabilities; from ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities; and children affected by armed conflict,” the UIS study said.

The study also said that the large attempts to end gender discrimination in education have not been successful. In South and West Asia, less than half of the children and young adolescents receiving education are girls.

“While the gap is considerably smaller than in the early 2000s, UIS data show little improvement in recent years, despite the many campaigns and initiative designed to break the barriers that keep girls out of school,” UIS said.

With hopes of changing these numbers, a summit in September will host world leaders in hopes of creating new Sustainable Development Goals to address education.

Although this is a great step for bettering global education, improving education will be more difficult than ever. The World Education Forum in Korea in May 2015 said that in order to achieve education goals, 12 years of funding must be given. Additionally, the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report team has projected that a sum of at least US$39 billion will be needed to fund universal satisfactory secondary education by 2030.

Aaron Benavot, Director of the EFA GMR, also said that funding needs to be drastically increased: “Aid needs to be shooting upwards, not creeping up by a few percentage points.”

Benavot said that The Oslo Summit on Education for Development and the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in August will show whether or not donors are willing. In agreement with Benavot, the UIS suggests that improvement from the levels reached in 2010 does not look promising, and donors must move education to the top of their list to really make a difference. A large change in funding must be made in order to start a worldwide effort for access to education. This year will show if our world is truly ready to fight for education.

– Fallon Lineberger

Sources: UNESCO 1, UNESCO 2, United Nations
Photo: Saturno