Education in Sierra LeoneMany important improvements in educational outcomes have occurred in Sierra Leone since 2015, especially for women and children. The country is bouncing back from the civil war, Ebola crisis and other serious challenges. This progress is partially owed to organizations that help children go to school. Several NGOs and community-based actors support education in Sierra Leone. Here is a small glimpse into the work of many.

4 Organizations Improving Education in Sierra Leone

  1. Street Child: Street Child’s goal is to improve the educational prospects of the world’s poorest and most marginalized children. Since its founding, the organization has helped more than 250,000 children escape poverty and go to school.  It originally started by improving education in Sierra Leone, where it began a project for 100 children in a small northern village. It has since expanded to serve children in ten other countries. Some of its work involves providing young girls with school supplies and giving families financial support. The organization also trains teachers and supplies classroom materials.
  2. Mother’s Club: After setbacks and challenges from the Ebola outbreak, mothers in Sierra Leone began organizing to ensure their children would receive a full education. Mother’s Clubs are village and community-based networks that sell products to fund their children’s schooling. Profits from farming, tye-dyeing, gardening and soap making pay for school supplies, books and uniforms. Thanks to these self-starters, with aid from international partners like UNICEF, communities can help drive positive educational outcomes.
  3. Girls Access to Education (GATE): Funded by U.K. Aid and its partners, Girl’s Access to Education (GATE) aims to help girls from disadvantaged households go to school and enables out-of-school girls to resume their education. Importantly, it also empowers communities to create their own solutions. The net enrollment rates in both primary and secondary education have consistently increased since 2013, due in part to their work. Where the literacy rate for girls ages 15-24 was less than 40% in 2005, that figure rose to 62.7% in 2018. The gap between male and female literacy rates continues to drastically decrease as well. This speaks to an overwhelmingly positive impact on Sierra Leone’s children and youth.
  4. Teach for All: Teach for All is a network of education partners and nonprofits who work together to help inspire change on a global scale. The organization announced Teach for Sierra Leone as its latest partner in July 2020. Similarly to other actors, Teach for Sierra Leone is community-driven and recognizes educational disparities in the country as an urgent issue. They aim to bridge education gaps by recruiting women and teachers from under-resourced schools whose efforts will help break the cycle of global poverty.

A Brighter Future

Overall, these organizations play a critical role in improving access to education in Sierra Leone. Currently, many schools have been disrupted due to COVID-19, but now radio lessons bridge the learning gap until reopening. So long as outside actors continue to provide foreign aid, assist in educational outcomes and empower communities, children in Sierra Leone will be able to reach their fullest potential.

Rachel Moloney
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Girls' Education in ChinaGirls’ education in China has come a long way in recent decades. The amount of girls at all levels of education is on the rise, slowly but surely closing the gender gap in schools. In some arenas, girls’ enrolment is even passing that of boys. Girls in rural areas of China, however, are still struggling with a lack of opportunity compared to their male peers. Here are 10 important facts about girls’ education in China.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in China

  1. Girls are beginning to outnumber boys. As of 2009, girls exceed boys in quantity in junior college and undergraduate programs. Women in higher education have higher enrolment levels, accounting for 51.4 percent of total enrollments. About 50 percent of postgraduates in China in 2012 were women.These numbers speak strongly about how far girls’ education in China has come. In 1985, only 25 percent of those enrolled in secondary school were female. Now, women’s attendance is starting to prevail over men’s. With higher enrollment levels comes a more empowered and intelligent female population.
  2. Women are dominating across academic fields. The amount of women in science and math fields such as engineering and automation is growing annually. In China. there are now over 20 million women working in the fields of science and technology. This is considerable progress in mitigating gender stereotypes and in allowing women to fill high-power jobs, showing why this is one of the most important facts about girls’ education in China.
  3. Women in China have the help of numerous organizations. China Women’s Development Foundation (CWDF) has been instrumental in uplifting the lives of women. For example, in 2017 CWDF hosted a charity competition in which female entrepreneurs enter their ideas for the chance to win investment funding.Although this is not academic education in the traditional sense, organizations like CWDF are promoting women’s creativity and innovation through programs like this. CWDF is just one of many groups that work to educate China’s female population outside of school.
  4. These organizations have made a tangible difference. Women’s Federations in China in the past five years have trained almost five million rural women and engaged one million women in entrepreneurial activities. Having access to these resources allows women to expand their minds outside of the classroom.
  5. Women are quickly closing the gender gap in illiteracy rates. In 1982 across China, the female illiteracy rate was 48.88 percent, whereas men’s was 20.78. While the current rates have improved significantly (about two percent for men and six percent for women), females are still behind men in literacy. However, women’s illiteracy rates have been falling at a faster rate than those of men. It will not be long until literacy rates between men and women are equivalent.
  6. Women are most disadvantaged in rural areas of China. As far as illiteracy goes, women living in rural areas have the highest rates. This is in great part due to the lack of access to good education in rural regions, specifically for young girls. If a family in a rural area can only afford to send one child to school, the boys are much more likely to be chosen than girls.
  7. Female teachers continue to face restricted career development opportunities. Women dominate the teaching profession in China, and most schools look to balance this out by hiring more men. A less qualified man will often get hired in the place of a well-qualified woman. Thanks to this, female teachers in China have a much harder time getting hired than men do in the same profession.
  8. Women have to get higher test scores than men to gain entry into university. In 2005, Chinese universities began responding to a growing number of female applicants by raising the standards for women in order to keep gender balances in schools equal. At the China University of Political Science and Law, the bar for men is 588 and the bar for women is 632. Unfair practices such as these get in the way of true progress.
  9. The average length of a woman’s education in China has increased. As of 2012, the length of the average girl’s education in China increased to 8.6 years. This is only 0.7 years less than the average man’s education in China. This means girls are getting more encouragement and support to stay in school longer than they have in the past.
  10. Progress in China’s education system for girls has led to many successful Chinese women. Of the 88 female self-made billionaires in the world, 56 of them are Chinese. Chinese women dominate the entrepreneurial world. This amount of success would not have been possible without the great strides that have been made in closing China’s educational gender gap.

As these facts about girls’ education in China demonstrate, it is a complex topic, but overall there have been massive improvements made in the system. This has led to a more prosperous female population in China and a more equal society for all.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

examples of global issues
The year 2018 has brought many positives with it. Several countries are on pace to minimize poverty. Education movements for girls are spreading like wildfire all over the world. More women in developing countries are gaining access to maternal care. More governments are establishing innovative ways to combat fundamental challenges around the globe. Unfortunately, there are still many global issues that plague the world.

Global issues are matters of economic, environmental, social and political concerns that affect the whole world as a community. These issues disrupt the natural framework of humanity, disturbing economic and social progress. These are 10 examples of global issues that are altering the development of human progress across society as a whole.

Examples of Global Issues

  1. Clean Water
    Water is a basic substance required for all living organisms. Without it, human health inevitably fails. According to a report by the United Nations, there is enough fresh water on the planet for everyone. Unfortunately, 844 million people lack access to it, and one of three people do not have access to a toilet. Millions perish daily from unhygienic diseases due to inadequate water and sanitation. Governments are making efforts to assist those in need but are hindered by declining economics and disorganized infrastructures.
  2. Food Security
    Like water, food helps people lead healthy lives. Globally, 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished. Developing countries struggle with providing an adequate food supply to their people; as a result, nearly 795 million people do not have enough food to meet their nutritional needs. The World Food Programme, a humanitarian effort established by the U.N. to combat hunger and food security, is working to bring relief to developing countries, currently assisting more than 80 countries every year.
  3. Health
    Universal health is a growing concern. Unfortunately, diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, smallpox and polio are still claiming the lives of thousands of people worldwide, mostly in developing nations. The World Health Organization is a global initiative that provides antibiotics and vaccinations all over the world. Since its inception, polio cases have declined by 99 percent, tuberculosis treatment has saved more than 37 million people, and in 2016, zero cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa.
  4. Human Rights
    Every person deserves basic rights, regardless of their race, sex or ethnicity. In 1948, the United Nations created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which today is commonly known as the International Human Rights Law. This declaration promotes and protects human rights civilly, economically, politically and socially.
  5. Maternal Health
    Maternal health is a global human rights issue, making it one of the key examples of global issues. There are an estimated 830 pregnancy-related deaths each day. This is mainly due to lack of maternal care. Women die from infections, postpartum bleeding, blood clots and other conditions. The United Nations Population Fund develops relationships with governments around the world to train healthcare professionals to provide expert maternal care to expecting mothers.
  6. Girls’ Access to Education
    Girls deserve the right to learn. Currently, 98 million girls do not attend school due to barriers like poverty, gender bias, governmental conflict, safety concerns and a lack of educators, classrooms and curriculums. Global Citizen reported that schools are sometimes hours away from where children live, making it unsafe for them to travel alone. Let Girls Learn is a U.S. global strategy targeting an increase in safe access to education for girls and educators. Funds are directed towards curriculums to help girls read and write.
  7. Digital Access
    We live in a digital age where we can find all the help we need online. This luxury is absent in many countries, as more than four billion people do not have access to the internet. Internet connectivity would assist those living in developing countries with finding help and aid. With online options, people in need can contact international aid programs to get assistance faster.
  8. Foreign Aid Budgets
    The world would like to believe it does enough for the poor, but sadly this is not true. In the U.S., the International Affairs Budget only makes up 1 percent of the federal budget. Increasing the foreign aid budget is actually beneficial to the American economy. It helps create more jobs in the U.S. and builds wealth in developing countries.
  9. Women’s Rights
    Women’s rights are human rights. Women suffer discrimination in many areas: laws, the workforce and gender-based stereotypes and social practices. The first conference on global feminism was held in Nairobi in 1985 and involved more than 15,000 non-governmental organizations, encouraging 157 governments to adopt strategies geared towards equality, development and peace for women.
  10. Refugees
    Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their homeland due to war, conflict and abuse. Foreign countries have granted them asylum for thousands of years. Refugees are sometimes denied entry into other countries, leaving them without basic human rights such as food, healthcare, education and jobs. Children make up the largest percentage of refugees. The U.N. Refugee Agency currently provides aid and safekeeping to 59 million refugees.

These 10 examples of global issues are not exhaustive. The world is filled with complex issues that must be addressed. Global strategies must continue to advance to nurture and protect all of humanity.

– Naomi C. Kellogg
Photo: Flickr

Education in the Ivory CoasThe West African country of the Ivory Coast faces harsh realities concerning its educational system. The challenges children face in the country must be met by better solutions if education in the Ivory Coast is to improve.

Ivory Coast’s education problem is mirrored by one horrifying statistic: nearly one in two children did not attend primary school in 2007. This ratio varied little throughout individual communities, and a large part of the blame went to lack of infrastructure. Inadequate facilities and the small number of teachers resulted in the low enrollment figures. However, the issues in Ivory Coast are not limited to poor facilities and a lack of educators.

Access to education in the Ivory Coast is impacted by numerous socioeconomic and equality factors. In 2002, Ivory Coast’s civil conflict shattered the nation’s economy and the results have rippled to the present. As recently as 2008, nearly half of the Ivory Coast lived under the poverty line. HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases are part of daily life in the Ivory Coast. Gender inequality is rampant. The result is poverty and disease-stricken communities. Access to education has suffered and home-schooling is a low priority.

Despite the challenges Ivory Coast has faced to its educational system, a number of solutions have been introduced to combat them. In addition to Ivory Coast’s own national programs, organizations such as UNICEF have supported programs to strengthen and expand Ivory Coast’s educational infrastructure.

The support UNICEF has given to education in Ivory Coast is widespread and invaluable. The Child Friendly School program serves to improve existing schools and create a more learning-friendly environment. Through this program, 200 Ivory Coast schools benefitted from improved furniture, health kits and extracurricular activities in 2008. Back to school campaigns support awareness and increase demand for education in rural villages. Alternative education programs serve to accelerate students that failed to enroll at the appropriate age. The Girls’ Education Action Plan exists to bring gender equality into Ivory Coast schools.

Perhaps the best agent for change regarding education in the Ivory Coast is the country itself. Not blind to the issues at hand, Ivory Coast’s four-year national development plan sought to make education a priority. In 2016, Ivory Coast made education mandatory for all children ages six to sixteen. Furthermore, the 2016 Education Sector Plan seeks to ensure that all children and adults have the proper avenues to seek education and training.

Due to the solutions in place, Ivory Coast has seen results in its educational system. Over two-thirds of Ivory Coast children now attend primary school. Prioritizing education in Ivory Coast, coupled with organizational and national campaigns, processes to rebuild a shattered infrastructure have begun. More must be done, of course, but the groundwork has been laid for better access, better programs and a better framework to ensure that all children receive that fundamental right to education.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

Women around the world are working to end economic gender discrimination and poverty by advocating for girls’ access to education. These 10 women are among the many who are advocating for women’s rights through education.

10 Powerful Women Fighting for Girls’ Access to Education

  1. K. Zehra Arshad: K. Zehra Arshad is the national coordinator for the Pakistan Coalition for Education and serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). She has advocated for women’s rights for years through policy-making and fights gender disparity in schools to improve girls’ access to education.
  2. Michelle Bachelet: Michelle Bachelet is the president of Chile. At the beginning of her second term in 2014, she implemented a program for public education, influenced by her earlier role as executive director of U.N. Women. While serving at the U.N., she championed the Fund for Gender Equality, which offers grants to programs that provide women equal access to quality education. Bachelet believes that the key to girls’ economic opportunities is education.
  3. Rasheda Choudhury: Rasheda Choudhury is the Vice President of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE). GCE is an organization working to end the global education crisis through free, public education for all. She is also the Executive Director of the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), a group of more than a thousand educator networks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Bangladesh. CAMPE has mobilized millions of people to join the fight for girls’ access to education. Choudhury is a journalist and an advocate for gender justice in education.
  4. Camilla Croso: Camilla Croso is the president of GCE and the coordinator of the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE). CLADE is a network of 15 national forums, eight regional Latin American groups and five international NGOs who work primarily in Latin America. Furthermore, Croso represents civil society as a member of countless U.N. organizations. Her primary focus is advocating for women’s rights to education in Latin America.
  5. Monique Fouilhoux: Monique Fouilhoux serves as the chairperson of GCE. An educator from France, Fouilhoux advocates for higher education and the impact of governments and NGOs on education for women.
  6. Julia Gillard: Julia Gillard served as Prime Minister of Australia before joining GPE as Chair of the Board. Gillard wants to strengthen global education systems for girls and bring equality into the classroom. She believes equal education will contribute to the end of poverty. Most recently, she announced GPE’s new Replenishment 2020 campaign, which will reach 870 million children in need of education.
  7. Graça Machel: Graça Machel is a philanthropist and activist for girls’ access to education and basic human rights. She founded the Graça Machel Trust to protect girls from childhood marriage and female genital mutilation. Machel believes that adolescent girls need to have the same educational opportunities as their male counterparts in order to contribute to the development of their communities.
  8. Michelle Obama: Michelle Obama served as the First Lady of the United States. In 2015 she launched the “Let Girls Learn” initiative. “Let Girls Learn” uses the aid of 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers to support community projects in developing countries that help girls go to school and stay in school.
  9. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is finishing her 10-year term as president of Liberia. During her presidency, she prioritized girls’ education and advocated for women’s rights. Additionally, Sirleaf’s work as president earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
  10. Malala Yousafzai: As a young teen, Malala Yousafzai defied Pakistani extremists and went to school, risking her life. Because of her bravery, she became an activist icon for girls’ education. Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. She also founded the Malala Fund, an organization that advocates for changing international, national and local policies and systems to give girls access to quality education.

Overall, the fight for girls’ access to education is key to ending poverty. These 10 women are pursuing groundbreaking strategies to implement equality into developing communities around the world.

Rachel Cooper

Photo: Flickr