Education in NigerAccording to the U.N.’s human development index (HDI), in 2019, Niger’s HDI value stood at 0.394, placing the nation in the “low human development category” and positioning it at 189th out of 189 nations. The country had a per capita income of about $600 in 2021, a 35% literacy rate in 2018 and a population that is expected to triple in size by 2050. As education is a proven pathway out of poverty, Niger’s government is working with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to launch comprehensive education reforms to strengthen education in Niger.

Barriers to Education in Niger

Despite substantial educational investments in Niger since 2012, enrollment remains low, according to UNICEF. While primary school enrollment (71%) has kept up with population growth, only 7% of children are enrolled in preschool.

The quality of education is also a significant issue in Niger as the country lacks qualified teaching professionals. In 2017, only one-third of educators had a sufficient level of teaching competency, according to UNICEF. Notably, only 20% of high school students successfully obtained their high school diplomas.

The lack of sufficient education facilities and staff impacts the most vulnerable groups the hardest, namely girls in rural areas. To facilitate universal education, teachers have to reach even the most remote areas to strengthen education in Niger. In 2017, the gross secondary school enrollment rate for girls in Niger stood at 21%, and for boys, this rate stood at 28%. Girls’ education is important because it leads to fewer child marriages and economic independence.

Through an informal education program, the most vulnerable children who have never received an education of any kind or have dropped out will be able to receive literacy training to develop their fundamental reading, writing and mathematics skills.

The Education and Training Sector Plan

Niger’s 2014-2024 education sector plan shows the Niger government’s commitment to improving education in the country. However, in 2018, the GPE provided Niger with a grant worth $482,007 to revise and strengthen this plan.

The education and training sector plan for 2014-2024 has several aims, which include:

  • Expand teaching and learning resources/supplies.
  • Raise “the quality of basic education by introducing mother tongue instruction in early grades.”
  • Move away from employing civil service educators to government-paid contract teaching professionals.
  • Increase girls’ school enrollment rates and keep girls in school through incentives.
  • Construct more schools to meet the growing population’s needs.
  • Create better learning environments by updating school curriculums, creating smaller class sizes and introducing study materials that fit the local context.
  • Establish “a literacy and non-formal education program to reach those who have never attended school or have dropped out.”
  • Ensure rural areas have sufficient teachers and relocate teachers to these areas where necessary.

Other GPE Support

The GPE has partnered with Niger since 2002 and has provided more than $214 million worth of grants to support education in the country. As part of the GPE COVID-19 response, the GPE provided Niger with $11 million through the support of UNICEF and the French Development Agency (AFD). This grant went toward implementing distance learning, especially in rural areas, and fostering the safe reopening of schools by establishing water, hygiene and sanitation facilities.

GPE partnership’s strategic plan brings together the organization’s assets, know-how and resources to work toward ambitious education goals in countries as vulnerable as Niger. Running from 2021 to 2025, the GPE 2025 strategy directly addresses Sustainable Development Goal 4 – “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

In 2021 alone, GPE contributed $740 million in education grants, alleviating some of the additional pressure the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on education systems in developing countries. With the technical, financial and administrative help of organizations such as GPE, Niger is expected to improve the learning experiences of millions of children while catalyzing gender equality.

– Pauline Luetzenkirchen
Photo: Flickr

Education in NigerThe country of Niger has been fighting a war against poverty for years. In 2021, the United Nations named Niger the least developed country in the world, with 42.9% of its population earning less than $1.90 per day. As the country’s economic state has worsened, so has its education system. Children are unable to learn due to financial disparities and geographical disadvantages and are not receiving the level of education and social interaction that they need. Here are five facts about the realities of education in Niger.

5 Facts about Education in Niger

  1. More than 50% of children between the ages of 7 and 16 do not attend school. Meanwhile, the preschool enrollment rate sits at only 7%. These statistics are the results of food insecurity, extreme poverty and inadequate access to schools. One of the greatest barriers to education in Niger is hunger, as children are not able to attend school for weeks at a time due to malnutrition. While schooling in Niger is compulsory, many areas do not have educational facilities to accommodate children. Too many students live much too far to walk to school, and some families do not have enough money to purchase a car to get them there.
  2. As of 2020, the Government of Niger only spends 3.8% of its GDP on education, according to the World Bank. This low percentage is indicative of a lack of investment in the education of Niger’s youth. Niger continues to rank close to the bottom on the United Nations Development Programme’s Education Index but, since 2015, has spent less than 4.5% of its GDP on education.
  3. The literacy rate in Niger is only 13.6%, one of the lowest in the world. Less than 8% of children have acquired adequate numeracy and literacy skills by the end of primary school, and only one-third of teachers demonstrated satisfactory competency levels in 2017. Education in Niger demonstrates favor toward the men of the population, as the literacy rate for males ages 15-24 is higher than those of women in the same age group by more than 10%.
  4. Access to and completion of education is worse among minority groups in Niger, such as girls living in rural areas and children with physical and mental disabilities. Only four out of 10 girls make it as far as the sixth grade before dropping out due to financial or familial difficulties. In addition, the country’s lack of adaptive classrooms and inclusive training means that schools are not meeting the standard of education that students with disabilities need in order to succeed.
  5. The impacts of COVID-19 worsened the challenges that the education system in Niger was already facing. In addition to the 2.5 million children who were already being deprived of an education, 3.6 million children had to leave school, and few had the resources to participate in virtual learning. More than 80,000 teachers ended up out of a job, and dropout rates began to increase. The closure of schools in Niger has had a very negative impact on students, and many are still recovering from the financial and educational setbacks that their families have suffered.

UNICEF continues to advocate for more accountability of Niger’s government, urging them to allocate more funds toward education. In July 2020, the Global Partnership for Education donated $70,000 to Niger to help it recover from the pandemic, which will go toward drawing up a plan to rebuild and redefine education in Niger. Organizations around the world are acknowledging the disparities in Niger’s education system and are working to provide a stronger foundation for students.

– Ava Lombardi
Photo: Flickr

Charities Improving Global Education
Often in low-income nations, part of the leading factor of poverty is the lack of a quality and efficient system of global youth education. Here is some information about six charities improving global education in addition to why global education is important.

Why Global Education is So Important

Global education is important for one’s participation in day-to-day life and it can both prepare and empower children and young adults for their futures. From grade school to universities, their future jobs could be working and innovating inside the workforce, government, office space or many other places. Education is one of the largest factors that attribute to global poverty as more than 58 million children were not attending primary school even though they were old enough to attend school. Possible reasons children do not attend a schooling system are school tuition fees, lack of resources, crisis, conflict, gender inequality or child labor.

Studies have shown that when education is available and accessible, people have improved literacy rates and more opportunities to higher-paying jobs once they have completed their educational journey.

Charities around the world are essential for the construction and facilitation of schools in otherwise impoverished nations that have little access to educational resources. Recently, six charities have made strides to improve global education. Here are six charities improving global education.

6 Charities Improving Global Education

  1. Women’s Global Education Project: The Women’s Global Education Project began with the simple notion of how every child should have the opportunity to attend school and obtain a quality education. Since its development in 2004 in the Fatick Region of Senegal, 10,000 students received access to computers and libraries, 2,500 women attended adult literacy classes and reading test scores increased by 40% from 2015 to 2017. Currently, the Women’s Global Education Project has extended beyond schools to ending female genital mutilation, scholarships and another HQ in Kenya. Education for women is so important since there is a higher prevalence of illiterate young women than young men.
  2. ASML Foundation: As an independent Dutch charity, the ASML Foundation has served more than 50 countries and reached 800,000 children since ASML founded it in 2001. The ASML Foundation aims to enable inclusion and participation for young people through education. The Foundation operates from the Netherlands, Europe, Asia and North America by supporting projects that improve global education. The projects include “TechMeUp” from the Netherlands, “Girls Can Do IT!” in China and “Teach for Vietnam” in Vietnam. ASML’s projects and more promote global education for citizens in systems where education was not available.
  3. Theirworld: For 20 years, Theirworld has begun to end the global education crisis and unlock more opportunities and potential for the next generation of children. While reshaping the global mindset for education, teaching and development, Theirworld has engaged more than 11 million supporters, gained billions in funding for education for all and enabled more than four million children to attend schooling in just two decades. Part of Theirworld’s focus is to ensure children have a safe place to learn and that learning centers are free of avoidable emergencies, conflicts and discrimination against students. The students want nothing more than a quality education for the next generation at the forefront of the Foundation.
  4. Global Partnership for Education: The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the largest global fund solely for boys and girls to have a strong future ahead of them. Working with 76 low-income countries, partner nations join after developing a though and complete education sector plan and show commitment to funding domestic education to receive grants given to the government for learning purposes. For the next four years, GPE will work with governments to increase a child’s availability to education, regardless of gender, location or family background.
  5. Schools for Children of the World: Schools for Children of the World (SCW) has focused on the renovation and construction of schools in Central America and Africa. With operations in the U.S., Honduras, Canada and Germany, workers and volunteers go to build or renovate schools for children who need them. In partnership with private, non-profit and public sectors at international levels, SCW can create a schoolhouse from the ground up to contribute to global education for all. Serving more than 21,000 students, SCW has continued to implement its services in 10 developing countries.
  6. Muslim Global Relief: While Muslim Global Relief provides meals and water for millions, their outreach also expands to education for orphans in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It provides the necessary materials for children such as textbooks and learning packets, trains teachers for professional support and provides hygienic solutions to school buildings. For more than 20 years, the Muslim Global Relief has been a huge factor in children’s lives going forward with education with a healthy and safe environment.

Concluding Thoughts

While many more charities arise to help contribute to global education, these have shown their dedication and proven it through their statistics provided. With an educated world, children will be able to decide the path they choose.

– Kyle Swingle
Photo: Flickr

Education System in Nigeria
The education system in Nigeria faces several barriers, however, organizations are working to strengthen these systems, recognizing that education is the pathway out of poverty. Geographical difficulties, gender inequality and circumstances of poverty impact students’ abilities to attend school.

Education in Nigeria

In Nigeria, primary education is “free and compulsory,” yet the primary school net enrollment rate stood at just 64% in 2010, according to the latest available data. In the northern region of Nigeria, net school attendance rates are particularly low at just 53%, according to UNICEF. UNICEF also highlights the gender disparities in school enrollment, with just 58% of girls enrolled in primary school in 2010. These disparities are greater in the north because there are more economic barriers and socio-cultural norms that discourage school attendance, especially that of females.

Secondary education is helpful in bettering the development of the country and securing higher-paying job opportunities for the population. Over the years, Nigeria has made strides in gross secondary school enrollment rates, going from nearly 32% in 2007 to 43% in 2018, which is a significant change although still low. If one analyzes further, gender disparities are still visible in secondary education with 42% of girls enrolled in 2018 in comparison to 44% of males.

Population Increase

The population in Nigeria has increased significantly over the years, standing at 206 million people and making Nigeria the most populated country on the African continent. This population growth, however, means there are not enough schools to adequately serve the entire population. Overcrowded classrooms in Nigeria are not uncommon — UNESCO recommends 30 students per teacher yet many classes contain more than 100 students. Overcrowded classrooms are difficult to manage and are not conducive to both learning and teaching.

Lack of Equipment and Teacher Shortages

Because there is a general shortage of school resources, facilities and equipment, many schools must share laboratories and equipment. This serves as a barrier to learning because learning depends on the accessibility of the laboratory or equipment. Because there is also a shortage of teachers in the secondary education system in Nigeria (less than 50% of the required number of teachers), teachers cannot give students individualized attention because there are so many students in a classroom.

One of the main problems that threaten the education system in Nigeria is “ineffective monitoring of the implementation of educational policy.” In addition, there are disparities in resources allocated to government schools versus public schools, the latter often enduring fewer resources and equipment.

Nigeria Partnership for Education Project (NIPEP)

Beginning in 2015 with a budget of $100 million, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has helped train and improve the quality of teachers in five Nigerian states through the Nigeria Partnership for Education Project (NIPEP). The overall aim of the project was to keep children in school, with a particular focus on girls, and increase the quality of education, even in religious schools.

Each school decides how to use the grants from the advice of the school management committees because schools know their unique needs. Overall, the GPE support in Nigeria has benefited more than 46,000 schools through learning environment improvements. The GPE assistance also allowed for the training of more than 132,000 educators and scholarships for more than 417,000 girls to purchase school attire and supplies.

The program came to a close in 2020 but the GPE continues to help Nigeria to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19  pandemic. At the peak of the pandemic in June 2020, the “GPE approved a $15 million COVID-19 emergency grant to support the country’s response to the pandemic in 16 states.” In August 2020, the GPE gave Nigeria a grant of $20 million to support the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, “focusing on girls and internally displaced children, as well as host and marginalized communities who are suffering from lack of access to education.”

Looking Ahead

Education provides skills that increase job opportunities and earnings while helping to protect people from socio-economic vulnerabilities. A more equitable expansion of education would reduce inequality and lift the impoverished from the bottom rung of the ladder. Therefore, improving the education system in Nigeria would help improve inequality and poverty rates in the country.

Ander Moreno
Photo: Flickr

Despite great progress in economic growth and poverty reduction, the gender wage gap in Ghana shows the distribution of these benefits remains unequal. A significant portion of Ghana’s labor market is in the low-paying informal sector, where the most vulnerable people, women and children, find themselves. In fact, women earn less than 30% of what men earn — Ghana is one of just two countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region to experience gaps at that extreme. The wage gap is largely a result of systemic barriers in terms of access to health care and education as well as social norms regarding women’s roles in the workforce and household.

About the Wage Gap in Ghana

More than 23% of the Ghanaian population lives below the poverty line, according to the U.N. Women Data Hub. Most schools lack proper facilities and information on menstrual hygiene for their female students, ultimately contributing to frequent absences and dropouts.

In lower-income households, where financial constraints are prevalent, women often sacrifice their education so they can seek work to support their families. Women and girls spend 14% of their time on unpaid care and domestic work. Due to traditional social norms, some girls in Ghana’s rural areas find themselves in marriage or unions from as young as 18, which typically prevents them from pursuing an education or better-paying jobs. In light of this, there are several initiatives working to reduce the gender wage gap in Ghana and empower women.

The Soronko Academy

The Soronko Academy is an information and communications technology development center in Ghana. Its main focus is equipping women and girls with the technical and soft skills needed to attain better-paying jobs. Women and girls in underprivileged communities learn new modern skills such as branding, graphic design, coding, digital marketing and app development.

The Soronko Academy also helps young entrepreneurs build a technical edge around their website development and social media management. Classes and programs start from as early as 5 years old, even working with schools to integrate coding into their curriculums. Founded in 2017, the Soronko Academy has trained more than 20,000 women in a dozen or so regions across Ghana.


Solidaridad is a global organization working directly with communities to create fair and sustainable supply chains. In Ghana, small-scale mining employs roughly a million people, with women making up nearly half the workers engaging in informal mining.

With pollution and other unsafe working conditions, Solidaridad’s project aims to improve the financial and social position of women in Ghana’s small gold mining communities. It supports 130 women by introducing village savings and loan associations and external funding for business support while also hosting discussions with women and men on household and business roles for women.

The banking associations receive funding from Solidaridad’s project partner Kering, the owner of fashion brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga, and serve as a means to boost local entrepreneurial endeavors, reducing reliance on bank loans. This project also offers training on responsible mining and leadership skills.

Global Partnership for Education

The Global Partnership for Education is a global fund dedicated to improving education in developing nations. Together since 2004, the partnership has more recently provided the Ghanaian government $1.5 million in grant support for its COVID-19 learning response.

Its active presence in Ghana is an attempt to prevent already-present gender inequalities from continuing into the next generation. It tackles gender barriers in several ways: supporting public awareness campaigns, building schools near communities and also providing for proper menstrual hygiene management.

The partnership also works with the Ghanaian government to identify and address gender barriers in the education system. In fact, its educational programs have boasted considerable success when it comes to the number of young girls completing primary school — now at nearly 95%.

UN Women in Ghana

U.N. Women in Ghana works with the government and its various departments, like the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, to make gender concerns, such as the wage gap, part of the national development process.

The organization also works with non-governmental organizations and other private sector groups to promote gender equality. To execute this, U.N. Women has numerous active programs, including one addressing the link between HIV and the financial effects it has on women and girls, like the cost of treatment. Oftentimes after divorce, women end up without any assets to support themselves and pay for treatment.

The organization also advocates for property and inheritance rights to offer women some form of protection. U.N. Women also works on economically empowering women by introducing small-scale farmers to good agricultural practices in hopes of reducing post-harvest losses. Additionally, the group works in the north and north of the Nkwanta district to enhance the leadership skills of adolescent girls.

Alliance for African Women Initiative

Founded in 2006, the Alliance for African Women Initiative is a grassroots organization fighting to reduce the gender gap by empowering women and children in Ghana. Its livelihood project seeks to enhance the financial independence of women to help families rise above the poverty line. The initiative also provides workshops and training programs intended to help women with all things business and personal finance, teaching bookkeeping and business skills as well as commercial consultancy and management. The initiative provides opportunities for women to connect and share ideas within its network.

Traditionally, the livelihood project creates its own small savings accounts because some women cannot afford to open saving accounts at banks. Then, after the training and workshops, women receive small loans to either expand their businesses or invest in new ones. More than 2,100 women have attended these programs and about 150 have received loans to start up their own businesses.

These five initiatives are attempting to take the steps needed to build an equal system for men and women. They are also showing the many intricacies of solving an issue, such as the gender wage gap, and that the solution is much more than just providing employment opportunities.

– Owen R. Mutiganda
Photo: Flickr

How Can $4 Billion Help Education in Underdeveloped Countries?The 2021 Global Education Summit raised more than $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and 19 world governments pledged to allocate a minimum of 20% of their budgets to education. The GPE provides for education in 90 countries and territories, aiming to raise “at least $5 billion over the next five years.” Reaching this goal will allow education in underdeveloped countries to thrive, safeguarding the education of 175 million children and enabling the learning of 88 million additional children by 2025.

The Importance of Education

In developing countries, there is a significant gap in learning and schooling. Roughly 53% of all children in these countries “cannot read and understand a short story by the time they” complete primary education. This rate of learning poverty could potentially rise to 63% without immediate global action. However, despite these statistics, more children are in school globally than ever before.

Equality in education is critical for the development of individuals and societies. Education in underdeveloped countries helps assist with poverty reduction, improving health and gender equality. With education, more people will be able to secure higher-paying, skilled employment and health outcomes will improve across nations. With more girls in school, the rate of global child marriage will reduce.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, education is suffering, but the United States commits to efforts to improve education for all.

How the United States is Helping

In the past, although the U.S. has made efforts to advance global education, considering its status as a global powerhouse, many view these efforts as insufficient. Realizing the need for improvement, the U.S. is advancing its focus on education in underdeveloped countries.

At the recent Global Education Summit, the United States pledged $305 million to the GPE for 2021. The Let Girls Learn Initiative was started in 2015 by former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The initiative invested millions of dollars while partnering with the private sector to improve education for girls in more than 50 countries.

On Sep. 8, 2017, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act was signed into law. The Act ensures that the United States uses its resources to improve global education through programs focusing on literacy skills, mathematics and basic fundamental skills.

The International Basic Education Caucus was launched in 2015 with the ultimate goal of alleviating global poverty through education. Congressman Dave Reichert and Congressman Mike Quigley began this bipartisan caucus with the belief that education is the unrivaled way to promote freedom, peace and stability around the world.

When the United States invests in worldwide learning, it brings benefits not only for other countries but for the U.S. as well. Education can improve global and national security and it can contribute to better global health while providing more economic safety.

What Does This Mean for Poverty?

Education not only provides children with the necessary tools to learn and develop but also has significant impacts on poverty. Education paves the road to successful careers, allowing individuals to earn an income and break cycles of poverty.

Each additional year of education an individual receives provides “a 9% increase in hourly earnings.” This increase in earnings allows an individual to contribute more to the economy, affecting entire societies as health improves and others are inspired to look to education to provide a brighter future.

The recent contribution of more than $4 billion toward global education is one major step toward ending poverty. Advancing education in underdeveloped countries will lead to immense progress in countries around the world by breaking cycles of poverty.

– Delaney Gilmore
Photo: Flickr


National Learning Assessment SystemEducation quality and learning outcomes are often key to explaining income differences across countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 88% of primary and lower secondary school children are “not proficient in reading.” Liberia’s Ministry of Education and the U.S.-based nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) are developing Liberia’s first National Learning Assessment System (NLAS) for the primary learning level. This assessment will help Liberia’s schools switch from a content-based curriculum to a competency-based curriculum that values learning over memorization. The assessment itself will highlight which areas students are learning least to hopefully close the learning gap.

Education’s Role in Poverty Reduction

Education is important for reducing poverty because it increases the rate of return in the economy. Improving access and quality of education ensures a greater development of skills among the population. Using education as a tool for breaking cycles of poverty, the nation’s standard of living increases, accelerating economic growth.

With education, those employed in the formal sector of the economy have the potential to earn higher wages and secure higher-paying jobs as their careers progress. Illustrating this point, every “one year of education is associated with a 10% increase in wages.” Furthermore, research finds that “primary education has a higher rate of return than secondary education.”

Education in Liberia

Emerging from a destructive period of civil unrest and the Ebola epidemic in 2015, the Liberian education system has suffered considerably. Only 44% of primary-age students currently attend school in Liberia. Of the children who attend school, only 54% complete primary education. In addition, there are no national school quality standards in Liberia. According to the Global Partnership for Education, the largest global fund dedicated to education initiatives, “resourcing at county and district levels require improvement.” With the understanding that education is the key to reducing poverty, it is imperative for Liberia’s education system to improve.

The National Learning Assessment System’s Purpose

The purpose of the NLAS is to try to maximize primary education learning by assessing areas where learners are not performing well. This will create the framework for a national standard. Further, the assessment will serve as a reference point for Liberia’s new national curriculum and help the government decide which reforms to undertake in order to produce beneficial educational outcomes.

Pilot Assessment

In a trial of the assessment with the Liberian government, the IPA reached 874 students across six Liberian counties. Students received both oral and written assesments. The healthy distribution of scores suggested that the assessment was neither too difficult nor too easy. Overall, the results found that “in the oral exam, the average sixth grader answered 36% of the questions correctly in language and 61%” in mathematics. However, in the written assessment, the average sixth grader achieved 47% in language and 40% in mathematics.

Given the fact that more than 90% of students “were over-age for their grade,” the trial illustrates that assessments should not be organized by age. Moreover, because of the significant difference in scores between the oral assessment and written assessment, students should be assessed on both types. The pilot project generally recommends written assessments as these tests are “cheaper and easier to administer” but emphasizes the importance of oral examinations to assess oral fluency.

Education as the Key to Poverty Reduction

Initiating a national learning assessment strategy is the first step toward rebuilding Liberia’s education system after years of turmoil. The assessment provides a basis for education reform according to the learning styles, literacy levels and knowledge gaps among students. More importantly, the initiative demonstrates the government’s interest in the advancement of Liberia’s youth and the hope to help disadvantaged citizens rise out of poverty.

– Annarosa Zampaglione
Photo: Pixabay

education for girls in MozambiqueMozambique is one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world but it has made economic progress in the past three decades as its income per capita rose from $373 in 1995 to $1,136 in 2017. However, Mozambique still lags behind most other countries when it comes to the crucial topic of gender equality, specifically in education. New funding from the World Bank seeks to address these gender discrepancies and improve education for girls in Mozambique.

Girls’ Education in Mozambique

There are several measurements of educational attainment by gender in Mozambique and none present an optimistic picture. About 60% of men in Mozambique are literate, as of the latest measurement, in comparison to only about 28% of women. This is largely due to high dropout rates for girls in primary school. More than 50% of girls in Mozambique drop out by the fifth grade and this drops to 11% by the secondary level of education. Solely 1% of women in Mozambique attend college, and once they graduate, their job prospects are grim.

In 2017, less than 4% of women in Mozambique had salaried jobs and only one quarter were landowners holding official rights. Due to these facts, many women find themselves forced to marry early in order to gain any financial stability. About 48% of women in Mozambique get married by age 18, most of whom have long since dropped out of school. This lack of education comes with increased health risks as the prevalence of HIV is three times higher among young women than young men. Furthermore, researchers estimate more than half of Mozambican women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime and believe it is justified.

The World Bank’s Efforts

Acknowledging the bleak state of girls’ education in Mozambique, the World Bank approved new funding for a project addressing low learning outcomes for girls in primary school and low retention rates for girls in upper levels of education. This funding includes grants of $160 million from the International Development Agency and $139 million from the Global Partnership for Education for a total of $299 million. The project will address the first problem of low learning outcomes by building 100 new preschool facilities in rural areas that lack quality education resources. It will also train and support teachers in grade levels one to three and expand children’s access to learning materials to improve reading skills for girls in primary school.

In order to address the second problem of low retention rates, the project will seek to create safe school environments for girls, increase the number of lower secondary schools across the country and make general improvements to the infrastructure of schools in order to retain more students. Furthermore, the funding will provide sexual and reproductive health programs and gender-based violence mitigation programs in an effort to decrease early marriages, HIV infections and domestic violence. The project will also implement mentorship programs for girls and expand the scope of virtual learning facilities, which will likely continue to be incredibly important education resources even in a post-COVID-19 world.

Potential Impact

Hopes are high that this project, with increased funding from the World Bank, will have a positive effect on the education of girls in Mozambique. Many rural families with children will have access to quality preschool facilities for the first time and girls in lower levels of primary school will have more resources to help them become literate. Girls in upper primary and secondary schools will also gain access to improved resources and revamped school infrastructures. New sexual and reproductive health programs have the potential to decrease the number of young women who are HIV positive and mentorship programs will build relationships among young women and provide activities and resources for school-aged girls.

Besides the direct and immediate effects the project will have on girls’ education in Mozambique, the country as a whole stands to benefit from the results of increased learning readiness and retention rates in the years and decades to come. According to the World Bank, increasing the percentage of women with secondary levels of education in a country by 1% boosts annual per capita income growth by 0.3 percentage points. Furthermore, one additional year of education can increase a woman’s personal income by up to 25%. Girls with basic levels of education are three times less likely to contract HIV and children born to women with basic levels of education are twice as likely to survive past age 5.

The Future of Mozambique

Mozambican girls and women have suffered from poor educational attainment due to a lack of opportunities, high dropout rates in primary school and low retention rates in upper levels of education. However, the new funding from the World Bank has the potential to improve girls’ education in Mozambique from preschool through secondary school by building facilities, expanding access to resources, enhancing infrastructure, implementing sexual health programs and introducing mentorship activities for young women. Increasing educational attainment for women has a ripple effect on their incomes, their families and their countries. A government choosing to improve girls’ education makes a sound investment in the country’s future.

– Calvin Melloh
Photo: Flickr

Transforming Education in South SudanAround 1.8 million children in South Sudan are not in school; the majority of children do manual work to provide for their families. This prevents millions of children, especially young girls, from receiving an adequate education. As the world’s youngest country, South Sudan struggles with many pressing issues, such as an unstable political environment and scarce food access. However, the need for educational reform grows increasingly urgent every day. These inadequate educational circumstances can be attributed to many years of war leaving behind devastating conditions for the country and its civilians. However, organizations have committed to transforming education in South Sudan.

The Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)

Founded in 2004, HART exists to help countries suffering from national conflicts that major aid organizations do not typically serve. A significant amount of HART’s aid is directed toward South Sudan and addressing the country’s unfavorable education status. In its 2020 report, the organization emphasized how many leaders in South Sudan are unable to access funds from large-scale donors. In response to this, the organization stresses that donating funds for essential services in South Sudan should take top priority, especially education funds, considering the substantial number of children displaced from normal learning environments. The organization works directly with partners in South Sudan to solve problems through direct communication.

According to HART, a girl raised in South Sudan is more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than to complete her primary education. More than 2 million children are not in school, which is the worst number the country has seen yet. If these rates continue, the future generation of South Sudan will not have the skills that come from an educational background, which also statistically increases the risk of falling into generational poverty. Organizations such as HART use advocacy as the strongest tool. By bringing light to these startling statistics, it hopes to educate the public on the dire need to allocate funds to South Sudan and reform the educational system through donations.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF has been a global leader in transforming education in South Sudan as it provides funds for classroom materials and teacher training. A primary focus is to intervene in South Sudanese communities to emphasize the importance of educating their children. The organization understands that when children receive an education, it benefits not only them but the entirety of the country.

However, learning in South Sudan has been extremely different since the start of COVID-19 as roughly 1.5 million children are learning through radio lessons instead of the traditional classrooms. In 2020 alone, UNICEF provided more than 40,000 radio sets to be distributed to underprivileged children who do not have access to radios in their homes. Amid these unconventional education times, UNICEF continues to deliver essential services to benefit learning in remote locations under the Government of South Sudan’s “Back to School Initiative”. At the end of 2020, UNICEF plans to have provided access to education to 729,000 out-of-school children in crisis.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

The Global Partnership for Education has partnered with South Sudan since 2012. It emphasizes the high demands placed on the education system in South Sudan’s national plans. The General Education Strategic Plan (GESP), developed by the Ministry of General Education and Instruction of South Sudan, lays out situation analyses, policy frameworks, implementation structures and financing plans. However, there is insufficient public expenditure to cover these projects. In fact, South Sudan possesses one of the lowest education funds in the world.

The GPE recognizes this need for funding and believes in the vision of the General Education Strategic Plan. In March 2020, the GPE gifted $7 million in support of the Ministry of Education’s learning plan in response to COVID-19. In particular, the grant goes to support guidelines and policies in place to reopen schools in South Sudan. Other focal points revolve around awareness campaigns on COVID-19 prevention, remote learning materials for students, radio programs for at-home learning, hygiene facilities and back-to-school campaigns. As the GPE continues backing the General Education Strategic Plan, the nation expects an expansion of secondary and technical education and the institutionalization of teacher training within the next three years.

The Need for Improved Education

Right now, more than 80% of the South Sudanese population lives on less than a dollar per day. In the middle of a humanitarian crisis, this vulnerable population fails to meet many basic necessities. An increasing urgency around transforming education in South Sudan has caused an abundance of organizations to take a special interest in reforming the education system in the world’s youngest country. While the road to a prospering education system is still long, South Sudan is taking substantial steps toward a better future for its children with the help of humanitarian organizations.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Flickr

development in Guyana
Guyana is a nation that is full of rich history. It received its name from its early indigenous populations who named it “Guaina” or “land of water.” Guyana was its own land for many centuries before the Age of Exploration. However, in 1498, Christopher Columbus was the first European to see the country and he claimed it for Spain. It was not until numerous decades and many European leaders later that the nation declared its independence in 1970.

Since declaring its independence, the nation of Guyana has faced many struggles including widespread poverty and hunger, however, throughout the past three decades, there have been significant improvements in both of these areas. The Guyanese government’s development projects as well as numerous nonprofits have made lasting changes throughout the country. Here are two examples of projects that have helped advance development in Guyana.

Guyanese President Desmond Hoyte’s Economic Recovery Program

Due to long-lasting droughts, high rates of emigration, political uncertainty and many other factors, the nation of Guyana has experienced many economic stalls throughout its time in independence. In addition, competing parallel markets and decreases in agricultural production have played roles in Guyana’s economic struggles. In the 1980s, the country faced a complete economic collapse, while also having almost 50% of its population living in extreme poverty.

In an effort to address these issues and approach development in Guyana from an economic standpoint, Guyanese President Desmond Hoyte announced his Economic Recovery Program in 1988. The goal of this project was to restore economic growth, absorb parallel markets, eliminate payment imbalances and to normalize international financial relations. In order to meet these goals, the government liberalized harsh regulations on foreign exchange relations, removed price controls on key goods and devalued the Guyanese dollar to match market rates. These were only some of the decisions and changes that Hoyte and his government made while implementing his program, however, each of them was very impactful in its own ways.

Almost no positive change occurred within the first two years of the project and there were even some negative effects. However, by 1991, Guyana’s debt had lowered to a point at which the nation could receive international loans and foreign investment had surged. This program was the foundation for the nation’s sustained economic stability and opened the door for further development and growth.

The Guyanese Government and Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) Long-term Investment in Early Childhood Education

The Guyanese education system has lacked sufficiency for decades. There is a significant disparity between the education that students living in the more urban and populated parts of Guyana receive and the education that students in the more remote regions receive. For example, it is very common for students living in remote areas to lack the necessary resources to facilitate adequate education as well as to have teachers with less training.

In an attempt to address these issues and disparities and to approach development in Guyana from a human capital standpoint, the Guyanese government and the GPE decided to make a long-term investment in the nation’s education system. This program focused on strengthening teacher forces through training, constant monitoring and evaluation. It also provided students with learning materials in the form of resource kits and teacher use manuals. The project also held training sessions for the primary caregivers of students across the nation in order for them to be able to support their children’s education at home. This project took a very well-rounded approach to mitigate education disparities and issues in Guyana and continues to have a lasting effect today.

According to the Guyanese Ministry of Education, this program helped improve literacy rates within students living in the hinterland and riverine regions by 139% and improved numeracy rates by 133%. There were also significant improvements within coastal and urban populations. Although this project ended in 2018, the Guyanese government made sure that it could provide identical services going forward in perpetuity.

A Bright Future Lies Ahead

Guyana has proven to be a model for development and growth. The projects and programs that have emerged throughout the nation have turned the country around and set it on a positive path towards continuous success. These projects and many others have accelerated development in Guyana and have made clear that the possibilities are endless for this small South American country.

– MacKenzie Boatman
Photo: Flickr