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Global Education
In the midst of budget cuts on foreign aid, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is increasing its funding for global education. The GPE Board of Directors met in Washington D.C. from Feb. 28 through March 1 and approved a new financial strategy that will expand its funding to $2 billion.

GPE’s strategy is a five-year plan called GPE 2020, beginning in 2018. The goal is to offer effective solutions for improving the quality of education in developing countries. GPE 2020 is a response to the recommendation of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity to expand GPE’s efforts.

The International Commission on Financing Global Education is working to end educational inequality. When children don’t have access to education, they increase their chances of contracting diseases like HIV and malaria. Educational inequality also makes civil unrest in developing countries more likely. A strong educational infrastructure is crucial to countries’ development because it lifts communities out of poverty and away from war and disease, which is exactly what GPE 2020 is trying to do.

To fund the strategy, GPE’s board proposed a “leverage fund” to which low-income countries will have access. GPE will also mobilize resources to focus on better financing education in communities and countries around the world. GPE 2020 will improve operations through data collection to better allocate funds and overcome policy challenges. The increased funding for global education will go toward mobilizing efforts in local and global communities.

In addition, the board approved “a new approach to eligibility and allocation of GPE resources” that is needs-based and prioritizes the poorest countries, which usually have the highest number of children out of school. GPE is working closely with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the Special Envoy for Global Education to ensure the success of GPE 2020.

Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer for GPE, says “the new framework will ensure that the building blocks of effective education systems are in place.” GPE 2020 isn’t a quick fix to the education crisis, it is a means of building from the ground up, focusing on the poorest regions first, to offer access to sustainable, quality education for all.

Rachel Cooper

Photo: Flickr

 Global Education_Meditation
More and more schools around the world are employing Transcendental Meditation techniques to improve student performance and well-being.

What is Transcendental Meditation?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought Transcendental Meditation to the U.S. in the 1960s. The technique involves sitting comfortably, twice a day for 20 minutes, with the eyes closed in a relaxed state of consciousness.

Transcendental Meditation is not a religion. It is a daily practice that helps students develop naturally and remain alert during the school day.

Benefits of Transcendental Meditation

Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, and Yale Medical School have researched the technique’s effects. Benefits of Transcendental Meditation include improved intelligence and creativity, improved academic performance, improved memory and lower stress levels.

Students who practiced meditation were also healthier and more confident. They showed greater appreciation for reflective and academic activities, as well as improved mathematical skills.

The David Lynch Foundation

The David Lynch Foundation was founded in 2005 to ensure that any child in the world who wanted to meditate could do so. The foundation focuses its efforts on underserved inner-city students, veterans with PTSD and their families as well as women and children who are survivors of violence and abuse.

Thanks to the foundation, students in more than 700 public and private schools around the world have been able to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique. In the U.S alone, there are more than 1,000 schools waiting to implement the program.

Success Stories

The Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE), a small school in Iowa, is one of the most successful examples of an institution using the Transcendental Meditation technique. MSAE students rank on average in the top one percent of standardized academic tests in the U.S. Ninety-five percent of these students also enroll in a university.

Similarly, university students in Cambodia that practiced Transcendental Meditation showed improved general health after three months. A separate statistic shows that secondary school students who practiced the technique also demonstrated increased creativity after 14 weeks, in comparison to control students.

Education is one of the most powerful tools in reducing global poverty and inequality. Thanks to Transcendental Meditation, both teachers and students are enjoying lower stress levels and increased efficiency in the classroom. As the technique continues to proliferate, the quality of global education will also rise, ultimately laying the foundation for sustained economic growth and social cohesion.

Liliana Rehorn

Photo: Flickr

prioritizing Global Education
In a report recently released by UNESCO, only 64 of the 157 countries tied to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) met the 2015 deadline for complete accessibility to global education.

While the U.N.’s sustainable development goal on education (SDG4), launched last September, strives to achieve universal education for both primary and secondary levels by 2030, only 12 countries are expected to achieve its goal by 2030. The U.S. is not expected to meet the goal until 2040.

What is causing the delay?

According to the director of the global education monitoring report, Aaron Benavot, there are two primary reasons for the slow progress made in reaching targets set out by MDG and SDG4. Benavot cites continued political instability, conflict and economic as well as social inequalities as casual factors. In addition, the director also notes that aid is not being distributed equally or prioritized to those countries that may need it the most.

Mongolia has universal primary completion already, but received 15 times the amount of aid to education per child than Chad […], where only just a quarter of children are completing primary education,” Benavot explained to The Guardian.

Why is prioritizing global education important?

  1. If universal secondary education were to be achieved by 2030, there would be 20,000 fewer natural-disaster-related deaths over the next two decades.
  2. If all children had a primary education, as many as 700,000 cases of HIV could be prevented each year.
  3. Educating women would prevent up to 3.5 million child deaths between 2050 and 2060. According to UNICEF, educating women would also dramatically reduce the chance her child will die before the age of five.
  4. A country that has 10 percentage points more of its youths in schools reduces its risk of conflict from 14 percent to around 10 percent.
  5. According to UNESCO, if all students in low-income countries learned basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, resulting in a 12 percent decline in global poverty.

Although funds may support greater accessibility to global education for millions of children as well as prepare them to contribute to their country’s economies, education’s impacts crosses multiple sectors — health, mortality rates and international conflict. Education is the disguised powerhouse towards successfully eradicating poverty. Meeting the U.N.’s SDGs by 2030 should be number one priority.

Priscilla Son

Global Citizen Festival
Now in its fifth year, the popular and innovative online campaign of the Global Citizen Festival has called upon music fans to win political support in tackling issues including global education. The festival’s ongoing goal is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

The Global Citizen Festival kicked off its advocacy season by mobilizing fans to complete a number of tasks on their online platform. Strategically aligned with the U.N. General Assembly dates, users were encouraged to sign their name on poverty-related petitions, tweet photographs to world leaders and mobilize friends.

As an incentive, participants earned the chance to attend the Sept. 24 concert in NYC’s Central Park, which showcased a line-up of famous performers such as Rihanna, Selena Gomez and Metallica. Most importantly, participants felt like a part of a coalition that shapes poverty awareness, policy-making and the overall conversation of global poverty and inequality in international affairs.

On their website, Global Citizen explains, “The effects of small actions are not always obvious, but by working together specific and tangible outcomes are achieved.” In previous years, the organization has highlighted various initiatives to help mobilize support and successfully secure international funds for poverty-related issues such as sanitation, food resources and education.

In 2014, Global Citizen successfully mobilized 40,000 participants to sign a petition to support the Global Partnership for Education as well as send 2,284 tweets to Raj Shah, Administrator of USAID. This mobilization not only doubled the budget to $40 million for the 2014 financial year but enabled further commitment of $45 million in 2015 and an additional $70 million in 2016.

This year, one of Global Citizen Festival’s featured campaigns is Education Cannot Wait, which is timely as the fund launched in May and more pledges from world leaders are needed. The Education Cannot Wait Fund is a government fund for global education for children in emergencies. The fund strives to ensure that education is not disrupted for children in humanitarian, war and refugee crises.

According to the Education Cannot Wait Fund, approximately 75 million children ages 3 to 18 are currently out of school due to wars, natural disasters and other emergencies. Moreover, Evelyn Rodriquez-Perez, director of USAID’s Office of Education in Washington, D.C., states that the world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, as conflicts in Syria and 35 crisis affected countries disrupt education for 43 million children.

In a U.N. article, Special Envoy Gordon Brown stated, “We believe that this fund will offer young people hope because when we ask ourselves what breaks the lives of once thriving young children, it’s not just the Mediterranean wave that submerged the life vest, it’s not just the food convoy that does not arrive in Syria, it is also the absence of hope; the [..] certainty that there is nothing ahead to plan […] for, not even a place in school.”

With less than two percent of humanitarian aid going toward global education, hope for children and the significance of education in humanitarian crises as they help them recover from trauma, provide normalcy and rebuild their futures will continue to be disparate.

In acknowledgment, The Global Citizen Festival has called fans to advocate for the fund, asking citizens to reach out to world leaders from France, Switzerland, Canada, Kuwait, Finland, Germany and Denmark to commit to a pledge. These mobilizing efforts of the Global Citizen’s campaign will not only assist in securing more funding and increasing pledges by world leaders but will hopefully continue to make a big difference at future U.N. General Summits.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

 

Global Education is Key
As conflict continues throughout Syria, innocent civilians and young children have been regularly displaced, killed and emotionally harmed in a now war-torn country.

Recently, Syrian rebels shelled a primary school in Daraa, reportedly killing half a dozen children. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, the rebels targeted the school to purposefully terrify and destabilize an already fragile community.

With this ongoing war throughout Syria as well as various other causes of instability throughout the entire world, poverty can be seen as both a cause as well as a result — a vicious circle.

In Syria, with destructions of communities and economic losses of $200 billion, 80 percent of the country is now experiencing extreme poverty.

Yet, it is the children who are the most vulnerable population, especially those who remain or must flee these conflict zones.

Children are losing their right to a stable and fulfilling education, peaceful living environments, and in many cases will have a fragile and unsteady future.

According to a recently released report by World Bank and in partnership with UNICEF, 385 million children are living in poverty, the largest school-age population that are currently in poverty.

Moreover, nearly 60 percent of children in war-torn or fragile countries are living in extreme poverty. About 20 percent of children under 5 years old in developing nations live in extremely poor households in comparison to the roughly 15 percent of 15 to 17-year-olds.

Extreme poverty is defined by whether a child lives in a household living on $1.90 a day or less per person. A child is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years.

Yet, children are the most vulnerable and most easily impacted. The report said, poverty “leads to stunted development, low levels of skills needed for life and work, limited future productivity as adults, and transmission of poverty down the generations.”

Moreover, the report explained that neglecting children fails to develop sustained economies for a prosperous future.

Global education is key. Currently, less than two percent of humanitarian aid goes towards funding education. However, providing stable and quality education keeps children physically and psychologically healthy and paves the road for steady futures for nations as a whole.

To rebuild and strengthen educational programs, as well as protect and prioritize them within humanitarian and development aid, is necessary for reducing poverty and providing children with the consistency they need during more difficult situations.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said, “children don’t need education even in emergencies; they need education especially in emergencies. Without an education, how will they gain the knowledge and skills to chart their own futures — and to someday lend their hands to building more peaceful, stable future for their societies?” Prioritizing global education is key to protecting children’s futures.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Sierra Leone
Schools in Sierra Leone reopened in April 2015 after the world’s worst recorded Ebola outbreak. The country’s government, with assistance from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), made efforts to improve education in Sierra Leone since then. However, the issue of gender inequality and its effects on educational opportunities still needs to be addressed.

When Ebola struck Sierra Leone in 2012 and schools were closed for nine months, approximately $1.45 million from GPE was utilized for Ebola-related efforts. These funds helped provide emergency television and radio school programs for children to watch and listen to while out of school. Approximately 600 hours of radio programs were broadcast.

GPE funds were also allocated to ensure the availability of safe learning environments when schools reopened. 900,000 students benefited when 2,700 schools were disinfected and 5,970 schools received hand-washing stations and supplies.

To mitigate the loss of educational opportunities due to the nine-month hiatus, the government of Sierra Leone, assisted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), also implemented two shortened academic years with accelerated syllabi.

Despite this progress toward recreating a stable education system in Sierra Leone and improving learning opportunities, gender inequality persists, creating educational discrimination and barring opportunities from pregnant women.

According to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), approximately 18,000 teenage girls became pregnant during the Ebola outbreak. Researchers have identified rape, abusive relationships and prostitution as factors contributing to the spike.

Sierra Leone’s education ministry has decidedly barred pregnant girls from attending school, suggesting that they would be unable to perform well in class. The ministry believed that exposing pregnant girls to classmates would both humiliate them and encourage others to become pregnant.

According to Business Insider, only 15 percent of girls reach secondary school in Sierra Leone, and only six out of 10 girls aged 15 to 24 are literate, compared to three out of four boys in that age range. The ministry’s band will only worsen the gender disparity prevalent in Sierra Leone’s education system.

The United Nations and UNICEF have both launched classes for pregnant students, hoping to relieve gender inequality. In addition to this, UNICEF has initiated programs to educate the community about teenage pregnancy through awareness and training.

The Ebola crisis has been a testament to the resilience of Sierra Leone’s citizens and has given the government an opportunity to reorganize and strengthen the country’s educational programs.

However, this crisis also highlighted the system’s gender inequality and weaknesses. Providing women with educational opportunities has been proven to raise countries’ GDPs. Narrowing the gender gap in education in Sierra Leone, therefore, should be a priority.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

Global educationEdmodo is an online leader in global education networks for students, teachers, administrators, and parents across the world. Often referred to as “Facebook for school,” Edmodo bridges borders and continents to globally connect educators and learners.

Edmodo was launched in 2008 in Chicago, Illinois by two school district employees working in their respective technology departments. Now, according to their website, the program has over 65 million users in 370,000 schools worldwide.

Jeff O’Hara, one of the founders of the project, noticed the number of social networking and media sites he had to block while working for his school’s Information and Technology Department. He wanted to find a way to integrate the social media aspect of students’ lives back into the classroom. O’Hara and Nic Borg designed Edmodo to give teachers and students a safe and productive tool in social learning.

Edmodo constructs its features with teacher input. Every year the company holds a professional development conference, called EdmodoCon, for its international community. The online platform even partnered with Sony Global Education, Inc. to launch a global math literacy campaign. Twice a year, the partners hold a worldwide math competition which is available to students and teachers in 190 countries.

The network adheres to its global community by being available in six different languages and providing in-post translations. Edmodo has features that facilitate discussions between educators, consolidate assignments for students, and provide a marketplace for teachers to share or sell resources.

Through Edmodo, teachers are able to connect their classrooms with classrooms across the globe. Students learn about other customs and cultures in lessons that deeply engage their interests. Edmodo has been used for modernized ‘pen-pal’ projects – students in different countries share their hobbies and classrooms partner online to delve into a subject from another perspective.

Edmodo gives teachers around the world free access to educational resources and a platform for global communication with other teachers. Bringing together the global education community, Edmodo allows teachers from across the globe to share ideas, receive feedback and grow professionally by learning from one another.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr

Circle of SisterhoodCircle of Sisterhood is an organization comprised of college-educated, American sorority women working together to provide educational opportunities for girls and women around the world.

Circle of Sisterhood was founded in 2010 by Ginny Carroll. She was inspired by the best-selling book, Half the Sky, which focuses on women’s education around the globe. The Circle of Sisterhood website quotes the aforementioned book which states, “one study after another has shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty. Schooling is often a precondition for girls and women to stand up against injustice, and for women to be integrated into the economy.”

Carroll saw the Greek community as perfect volunteers for her mission as “they’re already organized, they already understand philanthropy, they already give millions of dollars a year to domestic work… the vision was, this was a way for all sorority women… to have a global effect.”

Sorority chapters on college campuses around the nation who choose to participate as volunteers for Circle of Sisterhood raise funds to build schools and create scholarships for girls and women around the globe. Chapters may opt to host a bake sale, trivia night, or any other fundraising event to collect donations from fellow students. Many campuses even host screenings of the documentary version of Half the Sky to inspire more women to volunteer.

According to Circle of Sisterhood website, “as college educated women, we know the value of achieving an education… every girl in the world deserves the opportunity to go to school.” Considering that only around seven percent of the world’s population currently holds a college degree, many sorority women feel it is their duty to try to spread their educational good fortune.

As of 2015, Circle of Sisterhood had already impacted 17 countries and built five new schools, such as Ethiopia, Kenya and others. The organization has also raised almost $500,000 in grants.

After six years, sorority women involved in Circle of Sisterhood have continued to show their gratitude for their own educations by helping other women and girls to achieve the same.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

Education for All Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Education for All Act of 2016 on September 7 — five days after it was initially listed on the House Schedule. This bill, which promotes quality universal basic education, now moves on to the Senate.

In July, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced a near-identical companion legislation to the Senate which is currently being considered in the Foreign Relations Committee.

This low-cost, bipartisan bill aims to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, asserting that multilateral education aid to developing countries is essential to protecting U.S. national security interests.

The bill requires that the United States government develop a comprehensive strategy, beginning with the designation of a Senior Coordinator of U.S. Government Actions to provide basic education assistance within USAID. This position will coordinate international resources in order to promote universal access to education.

If the Education for All Act continues its momentum, once signed by the President, the bill has the potential to change the lives of millions of children.

Currently, 59 million primary school-aged children are not enrolled in school. Furthermore, 250 million children who do attend school are unable to read, write, or do basic mathematics. Many drop out before the fourth grade.

Gender discrimination, conflict and extremism continue to limit the educational growth potential for at-risk children.

Guided by coordination, sustainability and aid effectiveness, the Education for All Act will support national education plans in developing countries worldwide, creating specific indicators to measure educational quality.

Additionally, the bill focuses on the equitable expansion of education in marginalized or conflict-affected populations, in an attempt to keep schools safe from violence.

“An education is the fundamental tool with which boys and girls are empowered to increase their economic potential, improve their health outcomes, address cultural biases, participate in their communities and provide for their families”, said Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), the original sponsor of the House bill.

According to the bill text, the legislation would promote and contribute to an overall increase in economic growth for underdeveloped countries, improve democratic institutions of government, encourage empowerment for women and young  girls while “ensuring that schools are not incubators for violent extremism.” As such, focusing on improving access to education across the globe would promote U.S. national security interests.

Congressional Budget Office estimates indicate that the Education for All Act is low-cost initiative, requiring less than $500,000 per year. Enacting the bill would neither increase net direct spending nor budget deficits in the future.

The Borgen Project applauds the House for passing this important legislation and urges readers to call and email their Senators to support the Education for All Act of 2016. Let’s get this bill to the President’s desk and give millions of children access to quality education.

– Larkin Smith

Photo: Flickr

 

Learn about the READ Act.

 

Educators around the world
Amazon, a large internet-based retailer, recently launched Amazon Inspire. The website provides an online marketplace for educators around the world, but with one key difference: all of its products are free.

Marketed towards K-12 educators around the world, Amazon Inspire has tens of thousands of free online resources, such as lesson plans and apps available for download. Educators around the world can browse the site by subject matter or grade level, and teachers can download and edit lesson plans to better fit their own personalized courses.

Other features of Amazon Inspire that distinguish it from other educational resource databases include:

  • Collections, which allow educators to group resources on the Amazon Inspire site. These collections can then be shared with other teachers on the site, so everyone has easy access to similar information.
  • An intuitive upload system, wherein it’s easy to drag and drop files on the site, as well as add content to the site to share with fellow teachers.
  • Teachers can also rate and review resources on Amazon Inspire, helping their colleagues select the best resources for their needs.

Earlier in 2016, Amazon also signed a multi-million dollar deal with New York City public schools to help provide more digital books to the schools’ students. This agreement indicates how Amazon is no stranger to the power of funding education and programs that will contribute to making education more accessible to all students and teachers, regardless of location.

These free resources will help teachers in a multitude of ways. Not only will Amazon’s provisions help educators transition into an ever-more digital age of teaching, but they will do so without having to pay an exorbitant amount of money or spend ludicrous amounts of time searching Google for free scholarly resources.

However, since Amazon Inspire is an online resource, countries with limited or no Internet cannot benefit from its resources. While Amazon Inspire is a great site, it is important to remember that not all countries are as privileged to have nationwide Internet coverage as the United States. There is great potential in this field to not only connect more teachers to students but to connect and educate more people globally.

Bayley McComb