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5-initiatives-improving-the-gender-wage-gap-in-ghana
Despite great progress in economic growth and poverty reduction, the gender wage gap in Ghana shows the distribution of these benefits remains unequal. A huge 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 make less than 30% of what men make — 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, here are five initiatives reducing the gender wage gap in Ghana.

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 curriculum. Founded in 2017, the Soronko Academy has trained more than 20,000 women in a dozen or so regions across Ghana.

Solidaridad

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 nearly half the workers women 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, 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 & Balenciaga — and serve as a means to boost local entrepreneurial endeavors, reducing their 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 and responsive issues. 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 aims to install property and inheritance rights, offering women some form of protection. Another 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 in hopes it can 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 since some women cannot afford to open one in a bank themselves. Then, after the training and workshops, women receive small loans to either expand their business or invest in new ones. More than 2,100 women have attended these programs, and another 150 or so 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 are utilized for 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 that left 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 are not typically served by major aid organizations. A significant amount of its aid is directed toward South Sudan and 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 get problems solved through direct communication. 

According to HART, a girl raised in South Sudan is more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than complete her primary education. More than two 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 be equipped with the skills that come from an educational background, which also statistically places them as more likely to fall 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 are educated, 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 have been learning through radio lessons instead of the traditional classrooms. In 2020 alone, UNICEF provided over 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 729,000 out of school children in crisis access to education.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

The Global Partnership for Education has been 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 of 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, there is an expected expansion of secondary and technical education and institutionalizing teacher training within the next three years. 

The Need for Improved Education

Right now, over 80% of the South Sudanese population live on less than a dollar per day. In the middle of a humanitarian crisis, many basic necessities fail to be met for this vulnerable population. 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

Eight Facts About Education in Tajikistan

Tajikistan, a country of 9 million people in Central Asia, recently created a new educational approach that will help address its ongoing struggles. The number of females enrolled in primary and secondary schools is significantly lower than males, and keeping children in school during economic or political crises is difficult for many families who rely on them for immediate financial returns. Despite gender and financial inequalities that still exist in educational institutions, however, many projects and investments are underway that will undoubtedly help reduce these discrepancies.

8 Facts About Education in Tajikistan

  1. Children are required to attend school between the ages of 7 to 15. Nonetheless, the number of out-of-school children in 2017 was 11,435, with girls accounting for more than 70 percent of this figure.
  2. Armed conflict during the 1990s meant that females in the region were 7.3 percent less likely to complete their education than females in non-affected areas. In the long-term, they also returned to school at a lower rate than males.
  3. The Global Partnership for Education, a funding platform that helps increase the attendance in schools in developing countries, works in conjunction with the Tajikistan government to increase access and quality of early childhood education. In fact, more than 18,000 children have benefitted from improved schooling conditions in 400-500 education centers.
  4. As of 2017, 5,400 primary teachers were trained and two million new learning materials were distributed to schools.
  5. Along with the addition of new materials, an enhanced curriculum that teaches practical applications and an interactive atmosphere are being used by 160,000 primary students.
  6. Location, gender and finances are the main obstacles to completing higher education. The proportion of students who complete higher education from the most well-off households is eight times higher than from the poorest families.
  7. Girls make up less than 30 percent of the overall number of students enrolled in universities. In fact, one in three women stops their education before completing secondary school.
  8. According to 19 percent of parents and out-of-school youth, the main reason for high dropout levels in females is marriage and avoiding “a bad reputation.”

As of 2017, the poverty rate in Tajikistan is 29 percent down from 37 percent in 2012 and education is one of the main factors that helped to reduce these levels. As described in these eight facts about education in Tajikistan, many new educational reforms are underway in Tajikistan that seek to alleviate the gender gap and create a system that benefits the community directly. Access to education will allow individuals to help lift themselves from poverty and contribute to the economy, which in turn will positively affect the global economy by reducing trade barriers and creating a more competitive global market. Investments in education have long-term payoffs that can make a tangible difference in the lives of people who live below the poverty line and create a more accessible and powerful global trade market.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Sudan

Located in Northeast Africa, Sudan is the third largest country of the African continent with a current population of more than 41 million people. The biggest problem country is facing is the poverty rate that is currently about 46.5 percent and continues to increase. This does not only affect men and women living in Sudan but children as well. In the text below, 10 facts about poverty in Sudan are presented.

Facts about Poverty in Sudan

  1. In 2018, about 7.1 million people in Sudan are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, while 5.5 million experience food insecurity and are in danger of starvation, according to the USAID. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) also reports that almost 50 percent of refugees in the country are experiencing food insecurity. Because of this, malnutrition rates continue to increase, growing not only above the emergency threshold, but even higher. Around 32 percent of Sudanese children are chronically malnourished.
  2. Sudan’s climate conditions such as soil erosion, desertification and recurrent droughts, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), are also causing low and variable productivity since agriculture produces 40 percent of GDP and employs over 70 percent of the labor force in rural areas of Sudan.
  3. USAID states that the consequences of the economic crisis are also fuel shortages, currency depreciation and high inflation levels. These issues have increased transportation costs and food prices, obstructing humanitarian operations in Sudan. The shortages could also increase not only food production costs but curb yields in upcoming harvest seasons.
  4. Almost 550,000 breastfeeding mothers and babies in 2010 were lacking needed additional nutritious foods. In 2015, maternal mortality rate involved 311 deaths per 100,000 live births while the mortality rate for children was 65.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  5. Sudan remains a high-indebted country that has accumulated sizeable external arrears. IFAD states that by the end of 2014, Sudan’s external debt was $43.6 billion in nominal terms, and around 85 percent of this amount was in arrears.
  6. In response to the rise of food insecurity and hunger in Sudan, USAID happens to be the largest donor of emergency food assistance to Sudan. The Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with WFP and UNICEF to provide emergency assistance to those in need. The FFP assistance currently supports more than 2.5 million food-insecure people in Sudan per year.
  7. According to the UNICEF, 3.2 million people were internally displaced, including almost 1.9 million children in 2016. UNICEF provided access to the drinking water supply through operation, maintenance and water chlorination services to about one million displaced persons and refugees.
  8. IFAD has prioritized Sudan for more than 20 years and their loans help increase agricultural production through environmental practices and distribution of improved seeds. Their activities include promoting land reform, harmonizing resources for nomads and farmers as well as promoting equitable distribution of resources. They also ensure representation of both women and youth in grass-roots organizations and guarantee access to microfinance for women. This is very important since 24.7 percent of women in Sudan are unemployed.
  9. WFP, thanks to the E.U. Humanitarian Aid, has been able to provide five months of nutritional support to 86,600 children under the age of five and to pregnant and nursing women in 2017.
  10. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) started the educational program that began in July 2013 and continues to improve the learning environment in Sudan, providing and distributing almost six million textbooks and strengthening the education system. Almost 1,000 additional conventional and community classrooms have been built through this program which benefits over 52,000 students. Over 3,400 communities and 4,800 students in the country also received school grants.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Sudan bring not only the awareness of the people’s lives but reflects how much change and development is being brought to the country. These issues can be solved and poverty rates can be improved.

Organizations, including the few listed in the text above, will continue to develop and come together, bringing not only hope to the people but also dedication, ensuring a better future for the people in the country.

– Charlene Frett
Photo: Flickr

GuyanaIn April 2018, Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an international organization devoted to advancing childhood education, reaffirmed its commitment to improving education in Guyana with a $1.7 million grant. This grant intends to strengthen the Early Childhood Education Program, which strives to improve literacy and numeracy levels in several remote regions of the country. Backed by the GPE and The World Bank, this grant will also positively contribute to girls’ education in Guyana.

Literacy and Numeracy Results

The results of these efforts are notable in literacy and numeracy scores among nursery school students. The percentage of students attaining a level of “approaching mastery” or higher in emergent literacy assessments rose from 39.58 percent to 68.30 percent between 2016 and 2017. Similar gains occurred in emergent numeracy levels, in which the percentage of students achieving a level of “approaching mastery” or higher rose from 41.91 percent in 2016 to 77.03 percent in 2017. These gains indicate significant improvements in boys’ and girls’ education in Guyana.

A Gender Gap in Education

According to certain indicators, girls’ education in Guyana has grown stronger than boys’ education. In June, the University of Guyana hosted a symposium on the underperformance of boys in the Guyanese education system. During the symposium, Dr. Mairette Newman, representative of The Commonwealth of Learning, noted three key statistics, which indicate a widening gender gap in Guyanese education:

  1. Girls outperform boys in literacy tests, once they transition into higher grade levels.
  2. Boys are more likely to drop out of secondary school than their female counterparts. (In early education, the ratio of boys to girls is one to one. However, at the secondary school level, the ratio is two to one, in favor of girls).
  3. Boys are less likely to transition into tertiary education programs.

According to Dr. Newman, girls normally have an advantage, since teachers prefer “female” qualities in the classroom, such as the ability to work well in groups and be introspective. All of these factors contribute to girls outpacing boys in the Guyanese education system.

Gender Barriers

While the symposium touched on this gender inequality in education, it did not address how these inequalities and gendered expectations also affect girls’ education in Guyana or limit girls in society. Though growing numbers of Guyanese women succeed in school and participate actively in public life, significant gender-related barriers still exist.

The Guyana Empowered Peoples Action Network (GEPAN) explains that children take on specific gender roles early in life. While girls take on household tasks, society encourages boys to be independent, as future “providers.” These gender roles continue into adulthood and expose women to limitations and violence in Guyana. For example, in 2014, UNICEF reported that at least one-third of Guyanese women experience sexual violence. These barriers and violence make it difficult for women to reach their full social and economic potential.

Women’s Empowerment

Luckily, Guyana’s First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, has already begun to address these gender-related issues. Last month, she held a Girls’ Empowerment Workshop, designed to inspire and empower girls (ages 10-15), encouraged girls to pursue non-traditional career paths and fight through prejudices to achieve their goals. As the First Lady emphasized, education is the first step to empowerment for women, which will strengthen economic development. For the First Lady, women’s empowerment and girls’ education in Guyana are crucial to the future success of Guyana. This movement for women’s empowerment also goes beyond the First Lady’s initiatives.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications launched a program for girls and women in Information and Communications Technology, a field dominated by males in Guyana. The program, Guyanese Girls Code, is a free, three-month course which teaches beginning coding and programming to girls (ages 11-14). Over forty girls enrolled in the initial class. According to Cathy Hughes, the Minister of Public Telecommunications, the classes strive to bring women into the ICT sector and give them opportunities to gain the education they’ll need to succeed. Hughes hopes that bringing girls into the ICT sector will offer new perspectives and talent, which will be crucial for advancing Guyanese society.

Thus, education and women’s empowerment in Guyana are intimately linked. For women’s empowerment to advance in Guyana, education must remain a priority. With the support of organizations such as GPE and World Bank, Guyanese leaders strive to continue strengthening education and addressing gender inequalities in the classroom and society.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Benin

Benin had set tremendous precedence after The Cold War ended by being one of the first African nations to democratize. Its successful democratic system has since allowed Benin to achieve relative economic stability; however, it still suffers from high infant and maternal mortality rates as well as women’s illiteracy.

Barriers to Girls’ Education in Benin

Girls’ education in Benin has been hindered by factors such as illnesses, extreme poverty and illiteracy. As the world becomes more and more technologically driven, the economic development of a country is directly affected by low levels of literacy. Poverty, coupled with the high costs of education, creates limited opportunities for girls to acquire a quality education in Benin and succeed in life.

Other major issues that Benin is facing regarding education are the high rates of teacher absenteeism and the limited resources to effectively manage the educational system. Along with these overarching issues, Beninese girls are disproportionately burdened with traditional gender roles. The traditional division of domestic labor typically calls for girls to stay at home and work, which has led to the traditional belief that an education is irrelevant to a girl’s reality. In Benin, the male literacy rate between the ages 15 and 24 is about 55 percent while the female literacy rate in the same age group is about 30 percent.

Improvements to Girls’ Education in Benin

An education population serves as the backbone of every nation. In Benin, improvement has been their top priority. The former president of Benin, Yayi Boni, took very important steps in developing the national education system and ensuring that girls had the resources they needed to go to school by enacting certain measures between the years 2006 and 2013.

A few of President Boni’s measures included ensuring free and universal primary education for all children, tuition support for girls pursuing a secondary education and partial support of enrollment fees for girls who are in industrial science and technology fields.

Partnerships for Education

International organizations such as the United Nations, The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF have all worked with the government of Benin to ensure that girls’ education in Benin is prioritized. Thus far, these partnerships have produced impressive results.

The United Nation’s main objective with this initiative was to mobilize the government of Benin and develop partners to improve the quality and availability of education, confront traditional gender norms surrounding girls’ education in Benin and help economically struggling parents afford the direct and indirect costs of school.

In 2016, the GPE approved a $428,794 grant for Benin to develop its education sector. This plan was implemented in 2017 and is set to end in 2025. The Education Sector Plan Development Grant will allow Benin to conduct a sector-wide analysis of the educational system in Benin.

UNICEF and Big Sistering

A creative UNICEF-supported program called “Big Sistering” was also established in Benin to make the typically long walk from home to school a little more enjoyable. The older girls who are considered “big sisters” not only make sure that the younger girls get to school every day but also have the added responsibility of advocating for the importance of going to school.

If a girl does not come to school one day, it is the big sister’s duty to find out why and report it back to the headmaster. Big sisters also keep a lookout for girls who are not enrolled in school and encourage them to attend. Often times, parents keep their girls home from school to work on farms or tend to animals. In these cases, the parent-teacher association contacts the parents in hopes of finding ways to overcome these barriers.

Through the collaboration of international organizations and the government of Benin, gross enrollment rates for primary education rose from 93 percent to 121 percent, the primary school completion rate increased from 65 percent to 77 percent and gender parity has almost been achieved.

To support these developments, Benin plans to continue its efforts in increasing the education budget. Increasing the budget will not only improve access to secondary education but also the quality of learning and equity at all levels of education.

– Lolontika Hoque

Photo: Flickr