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Facts about Education in the Solomon Islands

With a population of just over 600,000 people, the Solomon Islands are comprised of six major islands and more than 900 smaller islands. The sovereign state’s unique geography and relatively low population make for a unique education system that continues to work toward solving issues such as extreme poverty, remote populations and a serious lack of budget allocation and funding. Below are eight facts about education in the Solomon Islands that dive deeper into what makes the education system so unique, what it is working to improve and how those improvements are being brought about.

8 Facts about Education in the Solomon Islands

  1. There are limited options for higher education.
    Education in the Solomon Islands consists of six years of primary education and seven years of secondary education. Afterward, students who wish to complete a higher education within the Solomon Islands must attend one of three colleges in the country. The colleges are the Solomon Islands Teachers College, the Honiara Technical Institute and a branch of the University of the South Pacific. Apart from these three institutions, limited opportunities for higher education are available.
  2. The country has low completion and attendance rates.
    Less than 50 percent of children residing in the Solomon Islands complete the full six years of primary education. There is no minimum amount of education mandated by law for children. Furthermore, many children are unable to attend to due to an environment of extreme poverty and dedication to a subsistence-based living. Attendance for secondary school is much lower than that of primary and presents a substantial gender skew. For example, 32 percent of the young male population is attending versus 27 percent of young females.
  3. All campuses are in the capital.
    The location of campuses for higher education in the Solomon Islands is problematic for much of the population. All campuses are in the capital city. Therefore, citizens from a poor background or distant location have limited access to achieve success in the higher education center. To counteract this, the Solomon government has established the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education in partnership with the University of the South Pacific. This college offers a diverse set of first-year university courses, complete training for teachers. The school offers education in finances, nursing and secretarial work. Additionally, it teaches technical education for careers uniquely relevant to the Solomon Islands such as fishing, forestry and agriculture.
  4. It has poor government funding.
    Another tidbit among these facts about education in the Solomon Islands is regarding government financial assistance. Public education in the Solomon Islands struggles to receive funding from the Solomon government. This funding can give educators and leaders more ability to reach out to a large population of potential students who are unable to attend otherwise. Government spending on education in the Solomon Islands has decreased to 17 percent.
  5. It has a low literacy rate.
    The average literacy rate for citizens 15 years and older is around 76 percent. This ranks the Solomon Islands 142nd in comparison with other countries in the context of the population’s literacy rate. This low percentage is likely due to a number of factors. Some examples include the lack of compulsory education, low enrollment rates and the prevalence of extreme poverty.
  6. There are improvements to its quality of education.
    The Solomon Island government is currently putting an effort forth in improving the quality of both primary and secondary education within the country. For example, one effort is emphasizing examinations within the education system. These exams focus on approving literacy among students. There are also programs to extend the reach of educational facilities toward communities isolated from urban centers.
  7. Education wasn’t always government-ran.
    Until the 1970s, mission schools provided all education in the Solomon Islands. Afterward, local government authorities took responsibility for education. In 1981, a government act created nine government with the responsibility of local education.
  8. There is an emphasis on vocational training.
    Vocational education is very important in the Solomon Islands. Many who practice subsistence farming and fishing will be able to begin practicing for-profit practices that will bring development to their region.

With a set of unique challenges, these eight facts about education in the Solomon Islands reflect the progress necessary to improve the population’s access to quality education.

– Jordan AbuAljazer
Photo: Flickr

Preschool Education Reduces PovertyEducation has always been a catalyst to development and growth in nations. Policymakers have focused on improving primary and secondary education to foster growth in all aspects of developing countries. Foreign superpowers have focused their aid efforts on helping to build the infrastructure for these schools to varying success. An aspect of the education system that is often overlooked by these domestic and international efforts is preschool or preprimary education.

How Preschool Education Reduces Poverty

A common stereotype has created a disparity of funding and attention between preprimary education and the levels above it. Firstly, many believe that preschool does not have an impact on future student outcomes. It is true that poverty has little effect on the cognitive abilities of a baby, but once children enter primary education, there are noticeable inequalities between wealthier students and poorer students such as trouble focusing in the classroom and behavioral issues. This inequality extends to foundational skills such as reading and writing.

Around the world, 130 million children in developing nations are enrolled in primary education but are illiterate. Providing access to preschool education in these developing nations will produce plentiful benefits for these children and continually increase literacy in students entering primary school. Preschool education reduces poverty by giving students the opportunity to develop rudimentary skills at younger ages, which allows these students to tackle more challenging concepts earlier than they would without a preschool background.

Aglaia Zafeirakou, a senior education specialist at the World Bank, found compelling evidence that students with preschool experience achieved more in each stage of their educational career. She observed that students who attended preschool, on average, scored higher on literacy, vocabulary and mathematics than non-attenders.

An additional 2009 PISA survey showed that in 58 of 65 countries, 15-year-old students who had attended at least a year of preprimary school outperformed students who had not, even after accounting for socioeconomic background. The impact of affordable preprimary education also extended into the primary schools themselves. Primary schools saw significant cost savings and increased efficiency in areas where an affordable preprimary school was available to families.

Improvements in Preschool Education in Developing Nations

The overwhelming evidence that shows that preschool education reduces poverty has empowered families of all socioeconomic backgrounds to demand preprimary opportunities for their children. NGOs and developing nations have valiantly responded to these demands and have improved the educational careers of millions of children.

Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania have all adopted policies that include preprimary education in the basic education cycle along with primary education. They have coupled this with significant investment and expansion in access to preprimary institutions.

Ghana, in particular, abolished preprimary school fees, which has drastically increased enrollment and attainment in its preschools. The efforts of these countries have inspired systematic change throughout the whole of Africa. The continent has seen an 84 percent increase in preschool enrollment between 1999 and 2015.

While this huge increase in enrollment will improve the educational careers of millions of students, there is still more work to be done. The impressive 84 percent increase was mainly due to significant institutional changes in seven African countries. Still, only two percent of children attend preschool in Mali, Burkina Faso, Somalia and many of the poorest nations in Africa.

Bettering the Lives of Children Through Education

Some of the most impoverished developing nations are still struggling to provide the necessary access to preprimary education that others have. Fortunately, NGOs have contributed significant efforts to help supplement nationwide projects to increase access to preprimary education in developing countries.

For example, local NGOs in Bangladesh have helped build over 1,800 preschools across the nation. Bangladesh remains one of the poorest nations in the world, but with the help of NGOs, it can ensure better educational outcomes for its young children.

Preschool helps children develop the foundational skills to take on more challenging concepts in primary school. This effect reverberates at each stage of the educational journey, which makes students more successful in their careers as well. It is clear that preschool education reduces poverty, but the effects are best maximized by improving affordability and accessibility in developing countries.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Flickr

life after being a child soldier
Historically, children have often been used in conflict and, up until the Middle Ages, most cultures considered them equivalent to small adults. As of 2017, seven countries actively used both boy and girl children for armed fighting. However, countries, governments and armies have heard the many voices that call for the absolution of child soldiers.

Just at the beginning of February 2018, a few hundred child soldiers were released in South Sudan; last year saw the release of over 5,000 child soldiers. While this is a great step towards human justice, life after being a child soldier is still a difficult journey as well. Here are five ways humanitarians and psychologists have found useful for creating a healthy environment post wartime experiences.  

Terminology

Child abductions are easy to classify as victimhood. While this title is true, it is only a small percentage of what the child has experienced. Children who escape their wartime prisons are survivors, and highlighting the importance of words helps shape a new identity in the life after being a child soldier. A victim can bring about a shame mentality and, depending on experiences, create ostracization.

The simple term ‘survivor’ puts an ex-child soldier in a different place in the world and in their own internal self-worth, as the word acknowledges what they have been through, while also underlines their strength. This phrase is much more preferable than than letting the one event — or victimhood — define them.

Check Western Thought

There is an overwhelming support and advocacy in the world for child soldiers. Many countries send people and finances to fight the use of child soldiers. Humanitarian aid can be amazing and overwhelmingly generous, but when the aid dries up (either people leave or funds are allocated elsewhere) it can leave some ex-child soldiers at risk again.

For example, typical Western group therapy can leave children more vulnerable if proper therapy is not continued afterward. Proper therapy can be difficult to follow through when a local solution and resources are not present and/or utilized.

Community

Unstable environments put children at risk for being recruited or abducted into armies in the first place. When a child returns home, studies have shown a community’s acceptance or rejection can be key to the success for a survivor. Utilizing local traditions and ceremonies for the life after being a child soldier cement a child’s place in local society.

Embracing local traditions or customs and incorporating that into a healing process is also a public announcement that the child is welcomed and supported.

Education

Many children are taken away from their home before they have a chance to finish school. Education is important because it brings normalcy back to the survivor’s life as well as prepares them for something other than fighting. Unfortunately, it is not always a perfect system.

A returning 16-year-old may feel shame if he or she needs to return to a 10-year old’s classroom. Fortunately, some towns have been able to create basic classes tailored for an older student.

This is still not completely reproducible as education, in general, is limited, but efforts have been made to create cheap and easy access to more educational opportunities.

Job Skills

Learning job skills is an important part of a survivor becoming successful in life post-war. Apprenticeship can be particularly useful in that it provides an education, community and small funds for food and shelter. Also, apprenticeship is reproducible and available for grown-up ex-child soldiers.

Apprenticeship has not been researched significantly compared to the importance of education or community, but the benefits of a job are acknowledged. Someone who has a skill and is able to provide for themselves and family become a part of society and prevent risk for later recruitment.  

Children in at-risk areas are taken because their lack of fear, they are easy to control, and probably have little to no community support. Children returning home can find themselves in similar circumstances with the added trouble of psychological trauma. Finding ways to assist in lasting support for life after being a child soldier can transform ex-child soldiers into contributing members of society.

A combination of education and community with proper support are the key building blocks to taking back and reinventing the lives that armies stole in the children.

– Natasha Komen

Photo: Flickr

educational reform in Ghana

In 1993, the Republic of Ghana established the Ministry of Education to provide easier educational access to Ghanaian citizens. The ministry focuses on academic, technical and vocational programs. The Ministry of Education also concentrates on infrastructure, the refurbishing of schools and bringing in newly trained teachers and academic scholars.

Seven years later, in 2000, Ghana incorporated a new educational reform program, called the Ghana Education Trust Fund. The fund was installed to provide quality education from basic (elementary) schooling to tertiary (college; trade schools).

Educational reform in Ghana finally began with Ghana’s Vision 2020 Act, which started in 1996. The plan was broken down into four parts: The First Step (1996-2000), Ghana Poverty and Reduction Strategy (2003-2005), Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2006-2009) and the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (2010-2013).

The 2020 date was set to give the Ghanaian government enough time to accomplish all of its goals, with hopes that the government will go above and beyond to exceed all of its expectations in time. Ghana finished the project in 2015, accomplishing a great deal five years before the deadline.

Education has been free for primary school (elementary) and middle school. However, high school was optional, with most high schools being privately owned, making it difficult for many families to afford higher education for their children and causing students to drop out at a young age.

In 2014, Ghana’s president partnered with the World Bank to announce a new project called the Ghana Secondary Education Improvement Project, which launched free public education at the high school level in 2017, giving children a chance to stay in school to further their education in the hope that free education will lower the dropout rate in Ghana.

The financing provides $156 million over five years, between 2014 and 2019. The plan will help the Ghanaian government improve its educational reform plan, provide educational access to underserved children, improve the quality of education and provide technical assistance. Students and teenagers are welcoming educational reform in Ghana and the chance to attend free higher-level educational institutions, and are hopeful that this program will give them the opportunity for a better life not only for themselves, but for their families too.

Promoting educational reform in Ghana will not only provide children with better academic opportunities and skills, but will also help fight against child labor. Although Ghana has set up many laws and acts against child labor, such as the Child Protection Compact and the Worst Forms of Labor acts, many children still find themselves forced into harsh labor conditions rather than attending school and receiving a proper education.

The Child Labor Coalition website tells a story of a young boy whose father sold him to human traffickers because there was no money for his education. Lake Volta, the area the child was sold into, is known for forced child labor and actively ignoring Ghana’s current laws against such dreadful circumstances. The children are usually made to work anywhere between 10-20 hours per day, are terribly abused and fed very little.

As terrifying as this is, educational reform in Ghana is the key to a brighter future for these children. It is the answer to ending child labor and lowering dropout rates. Ensuring that Ghanaian children are provided with more opportunities and prospects will allow the country of Ghana to flourish, keeping children and their families happier and healthier while providing a safer environment for all of Ghana.

– Rebecca Lee

Photo: Flickr

children’s education in Africa
Children all across Africa fear attending school because more oftentimes than not they battle against abuse, bullying, corporal punishment and sexual predators. A safe-haven outside of the home has transformed into an extremely negative environment for many children; it is therefore vital to protect children’s education in Africa.

Dangers to Young and Adolescent Girls in Schools

Young and adolescent girls are especially vulnerable at schools — they are susceptible to sexual predators, HIV/AIDS, violence through bullying and premature marriages. All of these variables, if experienced, can lead to a continuation of the poverty cycle.

Unfortuantely, girls who continue with their education face a higher chance of experiencing abuse somewhere during their educational career. In fact, girls who seek higher education who are in poverty are more likely to be sexually exploited by older men — they are likely to trade sexual activities for food, a mobile phone or school fees.

 

Bullying in African Schools

Bullying is also a significant concern for children’s education in Africa. Statistics from USAID taken from Botswana, Ghana and Southern African show that almost half of its children’s population suffer from bullying.

Further studies in Uganda displayed that 95.6 percent of children are bullied, and another 88.3 percent face corporal punishment.

Bullying creates a hostile environment where children do not feel safe and cannot focus on their school work. Further studies from the same experiment also show that children who do get bullied have lower reading and testing skills.

When children face obstacles such as bullying they will often come to possess a disinterest in continuing their education, and children who do not feel protected will only continue to live in poverty.

 

Association for the Development of Education in Africa Aid

Some programs strive to improve the academic system and protect children’s education. One of these organizations is the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).

This group, which partners with the African ministries of education, aims to create crucial conversations between policymakers and development agencies. The organization strives to share ideas, knowledge and lessons learned for educational reforms, and also to directly combat variables such as violence within the African schooling system.

 

USAID

USAID contributes to protecting the education system as well by teaming with the African governments and working towards stopping gender-based violence in schools.

USAID also partners with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to help young women. They encourage girls to be Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS). The DREAMS organization also aids in violence prevention programs across the continent where girls are most likely to contract HIV/AIDS.

 

The Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity Aid

In Uganda, the Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity works to improve the overall education system. By working alongside the Ministry of Education, the organization protects children’s education by working to produce a safe and supportive school environment.

Studies demonstrate that Ugandan boys and girls tend to continue their education career as long as they feel secure and supportive. These organizations and programs are essential to protecting children’s education in Africa, and to ensuring a bright future for the generations to come. 

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Flickr

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

what makes a country developedWhat makes a country developed? The commonalities between developed countries include an improved quality of life and greater access to basic necessities. Conversely, underdeveloped nations around the world also share common characteristics. Citizens suffer from preventable diseases, extreme poverty and lack of access to healthcare and clean water. Understanding the characteristics of underdeveloped countries can allow for a more strategic aid process to contribute to their development.

The former Secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, said that a developed country is “one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment.” While this may be an oversimplified statement, it highlights key issues that must be addressed in order for a country to develop. Here are some characteristics of underdeveloped countries.

Low life expectancy 

While the life expectancy of developed countries is typically in the 70s and 80s, underdeveloped countries often have life expectancies in the low 50s. This is common in African nations and is due to high birthrates and low contraception use, poor access to health care and potable water, lack of education and disease. All of this can easily be prevented.

Many measures can raise life expectancy while decreasing overpopulation and deaths resulting from preventable diseases. This includes using technology to help medical clinics in rural areas, increasing the number of wells, utilizing solar sanitation systems, revamping national education standards and having a sharper focus on vaccines.

Poor education and literacy 

Similarly to life expectancy, literacy rates and educational systems are telltale signs of a developed country. While countries like Norway consistently maintain a 100 percent literacy rate, underdeveloped countries, such as Niger, maintain an estimated 19 percent. While primary school is mandatory for most of the world’s children, many drop out in underdeveloped countries. The lack of secondary and vocational education for children prevents them from entering the workforce later in life. This can be combated by revamping curriculum and teacher training and by enforcing internationally recognized standards.

Poverty rates 

The economy factors greatly into what makes a country developed. Lack of income prevents people from access to basic human rights such as clean water, food and preventable measures against disease. While only 15 percent of Americans live in poverty, over 60 percent in the Congo and neighboring countries do. With additional aid, underdeveloped countries can increase credit access and improve agricultural and infrastructural systems, which would produce food and create jobs simultaneously.

High fertility rates 

Overpopulation is another characteristic of underdeveloped countries. Lack of education and birth control have contributed greatly to high fertility rates. In countries like Chad, for instance, only five percent utilize contraception. It has contributed to high birth rates, a population in which the majority are adolescents and have low life expectancies. Better education and access to birth control can balance the booming population in underdeveloped countries.

It is clear that the steps to helping underdeveloped countries are simple. Healthcare, education and credit access contribute to what makes a country developed. By addressing the aforementioned issues, underdeveloped countries can take steps to develop further and contribute to eliminating global poverty.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

When a developing country is in crisis or conflict, education is an area that suffers immensely. Education is a transitional platform that propels students in developing nations out of the cycle of poverty if implemented consistently. However, the relationship between education and conflict is negatively correlated: though education helps prevent conflict and crisis, once conflict and crises arise, education suffers.

Today, one in six children ages three to 15 are directly affected when a country experiences conflict and crisis. This number in itself explains why education matters, especially for these primary and secondary school-aged children.

According to the U.N.’s tracking of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “in countries affected by conflict, the proportion of out-of-school children increased from 30 percent in 1999 to 36 percent in 2012.” In 2015, in succession to the MDGs, the U.N. established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new SDGs pledge to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all.” This objective exemplifies the international importance of the universal human right to education.

So, if all people have the right to education, why are children in conflict left out?

The World Economic Forum found a recent OECD report that details why education matters economically. According to the report, “providing every child with access to education and the skills needed to participate fully in society would boost GDP by an average 28 percent per year in lower-income countries.” Conflict and crises have an expensive effect on the economy of the affected country. From 2011 to 2016, for example, the war in Syria exacerbated cumulative losses of $226 billion to the country’s GDP. The correlation between conflict and the economy is buffered when access to education persists. 

The World Economic Forum points out that there are 37 million out-of-school children and youth in countries affected by conflict and crisis. This translates to about 33 percent of out-of-school students across the globe. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) estimates that it will only cost $74 annually to educate each child affected by conflict and crisis. If these students remained in school during times of crisis, the economic consequences, like in Syria, might not be so drastic. 

An infographic published by the GPE looks at the relationship between education and conflict or crisis. When a conflict or protracted crisis arises, no matter what the cause, schools are commonly destroyed or used for strategic purposes. In Yemen, BBC reports, “more than 1,700 schools are currently unfit for use due to conflict-related damage, the hosting of displaced people or occupation by armed groups.” During violence and rebellion, children and teachers are targeted and forced to flee. Education suffers immensely as a result of conflict and crisis and is difficult to reestablish. 

The GPE infographic contrasts the detrimental effects of conflict and crisis to education with the promising relief education can bring in these situations. For each year of education, the risk of conflict reduces by 20 percent. And, if the average secondary school enrollment rate increases by only 10 percent, the risk of war will reduce by three percent.

Education not only reduces the risk of conflict and crisis, it provides opportunities for citizens to stimulate the economy and support democratic processes. The GPE further points out that, “across 18 Sub-Saharan African countries, people with a primary school education are 1.5 times more likely to support democratic processes.”

When nations experience tension like conflict or protracted crisis, education empirically suffers. However, if education can become a developmental focus, as in the U.N. SDGs plan, the risk of conflict and crisis in developing countries can correspondingly decrease. From encouraging future growth to maintaining socioeconomic homeostasis, it is easy to see why education matters, especially in times of crises and conflict.

– Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

Malawi is a country situated in northern Africa with a population of almost 18.9 million, as of 2017. Unfortunately, about five percent of youth aged 15 to 24 have no formal education and 57 percent of youth have not fully completed primary education. This means that there is a total of 62 percent of youth that have not finished primary education in Malawi.

For those that are in school, there is an immense lack of resources. The supply of notebooks, pencils and books greatly needs improvement. Perhaps most importantly, there are very few desks for children to sit comfortably at and write on.

To address this issue, UNICEF has partnered up with MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” in order to launch a campaign known as the Kids In Need of Desks, or K.I.N.D., Fund. Desks will motivate children to concentrate on schoolwork and make going to school all the more engaging.

The K.I.N.D. Fund aims to provide desks to all of the students and potential students in Malawi. The organization asks for donations on its website ranging from $27.50 up to $1,300. The initial donation amount pays for the purchase of one desk for a child in school to use. The latter is able to buy supplies for an entire classroom. Regardless of the amount, any donation is generous and meaningful for the good of the children in Malawi.

The nation of Malawi understands the importance of having children enrolled in school. In 1994, Malawi introduced free primary schooling for all children. This drastically increased the number of children that attended.

The only problem resulting from this is that secondary school and higher education costs money, which is why there is a decrease in enrolled students once they finish primary school. Thus, only the bare minimum levels of education are completed. On top of this, Malawi currently suffers from a lack of education infrastructure and resources to meet the demands of students.

This is where the K.I.N.D. Fund enters the picture. It works through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Even if one chooses not to donate, just sharing the program online and through word of mouth to garner attention to issues such as this one would drastically change the lives of thousands of children. Improving the quality of education in Malawi will not only directly impact the individual students, but will change the future of the entire community as well.

Education allows individuals to gain knowledge in multiple fields and allows for greater participation in a growing economy. Whether it is a desk or something else, these supplies help motivate kids to stay in school. Because of organizations like the K.I.N.D. Fund, schools are filled with an eagerness to learn that was not present before.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

reducing poverty through education
Education is often widely viewed as one of the fundamental pillars used to eradicate global poverty. According to Global Citizen, “61 million school-age children are not in school today,” and many trends show that education is perhaps the strongest tool to reduce extremism and bring world peace. Fortunately, the United States Agency for International Development has made tremendous progress in the realm of education.

Utilizing less than one percent of the total federal budget, “literacy rates are up 33 percent worldwide in the last 25 years, and primary school enrollment has tripled in that period.” In order to tackle global poverty, there must be a collective effort from grassroots movements to provide the necessary resources that foster opportunities for those in need. Some governments have made tremendous improvements in this regard, providing sustainable initiatives towards reducing poverty through education.

Chad

In Chad, the Global Partnership for Education responded in a timely fashion by providing nearly $7 million to the Ministry of Education in 2016 as a response to the 2016 conflict. This grant was not only allocated towards assisting the humanitarian relief crisis at the time, but was also used to provide education for refugees and displaced returnees.

According to the United Nations Education Index, Chad ranks 184th in the world in terms of its educational levels; nearly one in five children lived in poverty in 2015. In Hong Kong, a recent study came out affirming that “children who grow up in low-income households tend to have less access to opportunities and therefore are more likely to remain poor in adulthood.”

Many parents are strong proponents of education as they would like to invest in their children’s future, especially if they come from a predominantly poor household. The kinds of benefits procured from education help youths to break out of the poverty cycle and potentially become primary contributors to their country’s economy.

Additionally, income level persists when a child is enrolled in formal education. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have reduced poverty through initiatives in education such as developing workshops and extended learning opportunities.

Ghana

A headmistress at a recent school conference in Ghana recently lauded the value of education in society, claiming it “is the only means through which one could bridge the poverty and knowledge gaps in society.” Mrs. Elizabeth Ama Asare also stressed the importance of education towards economic empowerment, asserting that without it, “you cannot dine with the rich” or “reason with the professors.”

Her remarks were made in light of the commencement of the Government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, one of the many significant initiatives towards reducing poverty through education.

In Ghana, World Vision International (WVI) has played an integral role in improving the lives of children and levels of education in 10 basic schools in Kpikira. The WVI’s efforts include educating the youth on maintaining general hygiene, and fighting to end the practice of child-marriage that’s embedded in many communities.

According to the article, “ending child-marriage could help the district achieve at least eight of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, including health, education, and poverty.”

Israel

Additionally, the Haredi community in Israel is beginning to more strongly promote education. Characterized by traditional Jewish Law, the Haredi are marrying less and focusing more on their higher education. As seen in 2017, the number of Haredi enrolled in higher education spiked from 1,000 to 10,800. The Haredi community constitutes 16 percent of Israel’s population, and is set to increase monumentally to 40 percent by 2065.

If governments, international organizations and charities actively come together, then bridging the poverty gap can become an achievable task. Those living in destitute areas can benefit through the creation of institutions that enhance learning perspectives and opportunities. Such robust initiatives in reducing poverty through education are vital in paving the way for those who learn in a classroom environment to pursue a better life.

– Alexandre Dumouza
Photo: Flickr