10 International Issues to WatchWith the world always changing, there are some issues that remain constant. Some of these issues are directly related to poverty while other events increase the likelihood of creating impoverished communities. Here are 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.

10 International Issues to Watch

  1. Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa
    The good news is that global poverty rates have been dropping since the turn of the century. Nevertheless, there is still work that needs to be done. Approximately 10 percent of people in developing areas live on less than $2 per day. Poverty rates have declined in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but more than 40 percent of residents of sub-Saharan Africa still live below the poverty line.
  2. Lack of Access to Clean Water
    There are more than 2 billion people in the world who cannot access clean water in their own homes. Lack of access to clean water increases the likelihood of contracting illnesses. When people get sick, they have to spend money on medicine, which can cause families to fall into extreme poverty. In other cases, people have to travel extremely far to collect clean water. Altogether, women and girls spend approximately 200 million hours walking to get water daily. Access to clean water is one of the 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.
  3. Food Security
    By 2050, the world will need to feed 9 billion people, but there will be a 60 percent greater food demand than there is today. Thus, the United Nations is taking steps to address the problem. The U.N. has set improving food security, improving sustainable agriculture and ending hunger as some of their primary focuses by the year 2030. The U.N. must address a wide range of issues to combat these problems. These issues include gender parity, global warming and aging populations.
  4. Improving Education
    Most impoverished communities around the world lack a solid education system. Some common barriers include families being unable to afford school, children having to work to support their family and the undervaluing of girls’ education. UNESCO estimates more than 170 million people could be lifted out of poverty if they had basic reading skills.
  5. Limited Access to Jobs
    In rural and developing communities around the world, there is often limited access to job opportunities. There is a multitude of factors that can lead to a lack of adequate work or even no opportunities at all. Two common roadblocks are a lack of access to land and a limit of resources due to overexploitation. It is obvious that no available means to make money ensures that a family cannot survive without outside help.
  6. Limiting Global Conflict
    When conflict occurs, it impacts the poor the hardest. Social welfare type programs are drained, rural infrastructure may be destroyed in conflict zones and security personnel moves into urban areas, leaving smaller communities behind. At the state level, impoverished communities have lower resilience to conflict because they may not have strong government institutions. Poverty and conflict correlate strongly with one another.
  7. Gender Equality
    From a financial standpoint, gender equality is vital to improving the world economy. The World Economic Forum states that it would take another 118 years to achieve a gender-neutral economy. In 2015, the average male made $10 thousand more a year than their female counterparts. However, there has been an increased amount of awareness on the issue that may lead to an improved economy for all.
  8. Defending Human Rights
    In 2018, the world saw a decline in global freedom. However, over the last 12 consecutive years, global freedom rights have decreased. More than 70 countries have experienced a decline in political and civil liberties. However, in 2019, steps are being taken to limit this problem. At the International Conference on Population and Development, there will be a focus on human rights. France will also align its G-7 efforts at limiting a variety of inequalities.
  9. Responding to Humanitarian Crises
    The 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview shows a large number of humanitarian crises around the world. Between Syria, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are more than 19 million internally displaced people. In 2019, approximately 132 million people have needed humanitarian help, costing the world economy almost $22 billion.
  10. Climate Change
    From a scientific standpoint, the land temperature has increased by 1 degree C. in the last half decade, and greenhouse gas emissions have risen to their highest levels in more than 800,000 years. This has led to increased storms and droughts throughout the world. In the last 39 years, weather-related economic loss events have tripled.

Even though the world still has many issues to address, progress is being made in a variety of areas that may help limit global poverty. These are but 10 international issues to watch in relation to global poverty. The global awareness of poverty-related issues is something that continues to be extremely important for the advancement of our world.

Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Google Images

Mashal Model SchoolPakistan’s education system has remained underdeveloped despite the country’s supposed commitment to education. As of 2016, over 10 million children and adolescents were not enrolled in school, and over 10 million people aged 15-24 remained illiterate.

In Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, there is a wide disparity in the education of youth. The city has a population of approximately 1.4 million with 88 percent of the population being literate. However, because it is a major city, there are still many areas with little to no opportunities to pursue a basic education.

The Mashal Model School

In the area of Bari Imam, Islamabad, many children must work in order to help support their families who are facing abject poverty. In order to provide for their families, in-need these youth typically must sell things on the streets of the city. Oftentimes, they are also subject to or involved in gang violence due to the poor conditions of life.

One school in Islamabad, the Mashal Model School, is working to change the fate of these youths by offering them a chance at education. The Mashal Model School is a non-profit organization that currently has four campuses across Islamabad, educating over 860 children ranging in age from nursery school to grade 10.

The school was established in December of 2008 and is located in the G-5 sector of Islamabad, better known as Bari Imam. The school is open to all students and has a more equitable ratio of male to female students than most other schools in the area.

The Curriculum at The Mashal Model School

Although the school follows the curriculum of both the Oxford University Press and The National Scheme of Studies of Pakistan, they take an unorthodox approach to educating their students. Because most of their students come to the school from difficult home lives and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the way of their success, The Mashal Model School begins by educating their students about hygiene, health and protection from abuse.

The school works to create a safe learning environment for its students and teachers, and abuse of any kind is not tolerated. Once the students are accustomed to the school and the safety it provides, The Mashal School continues their quest to provide an individualized education.

In addition to a standard education, the school provides books, bags, uniforms, shoes, food items, library and medical insurance facilities as well as computer and science laboratories to its students. The school also offers its students life-enhancing courses such as art, sports, food preparation, painting and clay work in an effort to give the children a healthy outlet to work through the problems they face.

The school acts as an ally to its students and their families by ensuring that attending school does not become an additional burden on their lives. Tuition to attend the school is 50 to 100 rupees (50 cents to $1); however, over 40 percent of its students attend the school free of charge. To further its allyship, The Mashal Model School offers sewing and woodworking classes to the parents of the school’s students.

The school is currently a non-profit, registered trust that began with the funding of its founders and is funded today by donations from people all across the world as well as by educational grants from different embassies. By continuing to provide the best education possible while still managing not to create a financial burden to the students, The Mashal Model School is improving the lives of its students and the community in which it is located.

Savannah Hawley
Photo: Flickr

Education of ChildrenImproving the education of children has immense benefits. More educated societies normally have better economies, since education strongly determines employability. The life expectancy of more educated societies is also higher. Additionally, increased education encourages stronger political involvement and community service. The education of children affects what kind of life young people will have as adults.

The H.R.2408 – Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act was introduced to Congress by Senator Steve Chabot on May 11 2017 and Senator Robin Kelly was the first cosponsor for this act. While neither Sen. Chabot nor Sen. Kelly were available for questioning, Sen. Kelly’s assistant James Lewis was able to answer the following questions about this act.

1. How will supporting the education of children in other countries benefit the U.S.?
Many children around the world, especially refugees and displaced persons, are vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist organizations, cartels and organized crime. By investing in their education, we live our values and enhance our security.

2. How will this act affect taxpayers?
This bill prioritizes existing aid dollars to better match our values and goals. While this will not cost taxpayers more money, it will help us realize more effective gains on our current investments.

3. Specifically, how will funds be allocated to support children’s access to education?
By leveraging funds in partnership with host governments, we can develop innovative approaches that educate young people, especially girls, for a brighter future, despite the harshness of their current reality.

4. How will the implementation of this act emphasize girls’ education in particular?
Displaced people, especially girls, are extremely vulnerable to sex trafficking, slavery and terrorist recruitment. Education is a shield against those nefarious actors and organizations. By focusing on educating, empowering and uplifting girls, we also create strong and thriving communities that can integrate into new communities or hopefully return to their homes to build a brighter, more peaceful future for their nations.

This is an excellent example of an act that focuses on improving foreign nations’ education of children while supporting greater global security. The best way Americans can influence the success of acts like this one is by calling their state senators and asking for their support.

– Emma Tennyson

Photo: Flickr

Free Education in Zimbabwe
Upon gaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe mandated free education. Today, however, fees for education in Zimbabwe are at an all time high.

On August 18, nearly 2,000 women activists protested for free education in Zimbabwe in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo. Only one day later, the protests moved to the Ministry of Education in Harare, the country’s capital. These protests come at a time when citizens are struggling to find jobs and children are being forced to drop out of school because their families cannot afford it.

Organized by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the protests follow a string of public demonstrations that have occurred within the last two months. In Bulawayo, the protesters presented a petition to the resident minister, declaring the right to free education in Zimbabwe. A similar petition was given to Sylvia Masango, a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Only 12 percent of the Zimbabwean government’s national budget is allocated to primary and secondary education, according to UNICEF. Of that 12 percent, most of the money only covers administration and teacher salaries. In August, the government reported it would not be taking new hires as it scrambles to pay the salaries of its current public workers.

According to UNICEF, over one million Zimbabwean secondary-school-aged children are not attending school. The number of school dropouts is increasing as the disparity in education grows. Children whose families rank in the top five percent of wealthiest people nationally are three times as likely to attend secondary school as children whose families rank in the bottom five percent.

Fifteen percent of children in Zimbabwe are not attending school due to the high cost of school fees, according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Committee. Many impoverished people in Zimbabwe live in rural areas, and Zimbabwe’s rural population makes up 67 percent of the country’s total.

The international community is working to fight school dropout rates. In 2010, through the Education Transition Fund (ETF), UNICEF provided 23 million textbooks to students in Zimbabwe, helping the country reach a one-to-one student-textbook ratio. The fund also helped Zimbabwe create national school grants to help students overcome financial barriers. Through the Second Chance Education Program, the fund supported alternative education opportunities for at least 50,000 children.

In 2015, the U.K. announced it would give $37 million from its Department for International Development to support Zimbabwe’s education sector. Part of the funds goes toward providing quality education for children in rural areas through the School Improvement Grants program.

There are high hopes that support from the international community and pressure from its population will allow Zimbabwe to provide free education once again.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr

Education in QatarWhile Qatar’s location — Surrounded by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and Iraq — makes it a hot spot of human rights violations and war, education in the country is blossoming.

Public education in Qatar was first established in 1952. Since then, the Muslim nation has created entities to preserve the heritage and uphold the integrity of the nation.

One such body is the Supreme Education Council (SEC). Dedicated to creating, “Education for a New Era,” the SEC focuses on modernizing standards and making education highly accessible, regardless of economic status. The SEC also subsidizes independent schools, which cover elementary, intermediary, and secondary educational stages.

Within the public sector, there is a specialization of education exclusively for boys, which include a religious institute, a secondary school of commerce, and a secondary school of technology.

Additionally, the SEC created several institutes concentrating on special education. Originally separated by gender, the Al Amal School for Boys and Al Amal School for Girls now provide an education for both genders.

Qatar also offers many private and public universities, including Qatar University, Weill Cornell College of Medicine in Qatar, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

In order to achieve Qatar’s 2030 national vision in human development, education in Qatar focuses on the exploration of information and communication technology, both in the learning and teaching processes.

To create this vision, Qatar has developed the Exploring ICT Education Conference. Now in its seventh year, the keynote speakers gave presentations addressing topics such as digital literacy, Lego EV3 robotics, and security awareness.

One of the most recent initiatives to increase education standards and development in Qatar is the leading nonprofit Qatar Foundation that serves the people of Qatar by supporting and operating programs in three essential areas: education, science and research, and community expansion.

The nonprofit organization is responsible for collaborations, such as seminars to promote intercultural communication at the Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar University’s, which were held in July.

Education in Qatar is rapidly growing. With the aid and support of the government, the education sector demonstrates the potential to provide access to high-quality education for all, as well as the ability of traditions to be modernized, while maintaining their integrity.

Veronica Ung-Kono

Photo: Flickr

EmpoweringBRAC is a development organization in Bangladesh seeking to alleviate the lives of the country’s poor by empowering them through various efforts including disaster management, community empowerment, support programs, and education.

Overtime, Bangladesh has made major improvements in its education system. The literacy rate in Bangladesh is 83 percent for youth and 61 percent for adults. However, there is still work to be done. It is estimated that 1,300,000 primary school-age children do not have access to education in Bangladesh. Additionally, the rate of student school drop-out is still very high and the student to teacher ratio can be as high as 51:1. However, BRAC is taking steps to improve the education in Bangladesh.

With innovating teaching methods, BRAC provides children of poverty – who have been left out of the traditional education system – an education comparable with that of the mainstream school system. Education is one of the keys to fighting poverty, as upcoming generations will have more opportunities can change the course of their lives.

BRAC’s program on education in Bangladesh has four major practice areas: non-formal primary education, pre-primary schools, adolescent development program and multi-purpose community learning centers. These different practice areas reach not only children but also young adults and older members of communities.

The non-formal primary education initiative is a three-year program that aims to help kids aged eight to ten who have dropped out or never been enrolled in school. This program now has over 22,000 schools and over 681,000 students. The recent pass rate of BRAC’s pre-school graduates on the Primary School Certificate is 99.99 percent, and its students perform outstandingly on the exam, compared to national numbers.

Schools lead by BRAC not only provide a traditional education but also vocational skills, health awareness classes and financial services. Additionally, the schools provide safe places for children to play and participate in community activities, fostering community growth. The education program additionally brings mobile libraries to developing communities, which promotes reading and allows the members of the community to have access to computers and the internet.

The education program “has evolved organically, following a ‘life cycle’ approach with capacity and potentials to empower communities through livelihood improvement, citizenship development and poverty alleviation” according to BRAC.

As members of developing communities have better access to the tools they need to survive, like education, they have a better chance of thriving and building a successful life. By bringing education to poor communities in Bangladesh, BRAC is taking significant steps in order to fight global poverty. Its extensive education program will soon help children in many more poor countries, as the organization brings its schools around the globe. Improving education in Bangladesh will ultimately set an example of what needs to be done in other poor countries and communities.

Julia Arredondo

Photo: Flickr

How to end world hunger
Ending world hunger is far less complicated than most people assume. In a world where one in every nine people goes to bed hungry, how do governments and their respective societies ensure people have access to the nutrition they need? Many international organizations are leading the charge to end world hunger, setting manageable goals and creating guidelines to fight against poverty. The World Food Programme’s former executive director, Josette Sheeran outlined a straight-forward approach on how to end world hunger in 10 steps.


How to End World Hunger


  1. Humanitarian action is the first and most direct solution suggested by Sheeran. Spreading resources around the world has been the most popular form of fighting hunger and it continues to grow. According to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Initiative, international humanitarian assistance reached a record of $24.5 billion in aid in 2014.
  2. Providing school meals is an efficient way of supporting both nutrition and youth education in society. Schools are already a haven for youth in developing countries. Adding school meals ensures students stay in school longer and receive a better education.
  3. A social safety net can defend people from falling back into poverty when disaster endangers their ascent. Farmers and their laborers are especially vulnerable to changes in weather patterns and natural disasters, which can destroy their crop and their wealth in one fell swoop.
  4. Connecting small farmers to markets is an essential method of increasing the income of subsistence farmers in developing countries. CNN reports that there are 600 million small farmers and herders in the world. Initiatives such as fair trade products and companies have brought more income to these small farmers.
  5. Decrease infant mortality rates. The first 1,000 days represent the most important period in an infant’s life. During this critical period, the child must receive the necessary nutrition and care from its mother in order to ensure its survival. Improving the chance that children born in poverty receive this care is essential in fighting high child mortality rates and stunting.
  6. Empowering women would unlock a new pool of human capital in the fight against poverty and world hunger. Making political and economic opportunities available to the female population in a country only improves the social institutions of the nation.
  7. With the support of safety nets, a resilient population can resist the pressures of poverty-inducing crises like economic downturns and military conflicts. Preparation can be implemented at the community or governmental level, or however hunger prevention can be mobilized most efficiently.
  8. Bringing the technological development that has occurred in developed countries to their emerging peers can accelerate the development of entire nations. For instance, the output and efficiency of farmers can be augmented by the use of various agricultural technologies.
  9. The power of the individual in a community should not be underestimated by organizations looking to fight hunger. Mobilizing just a small group of people can yield huge results through technology and communication on the internet.
  10. Finally, there needs to be some sort of local leadership in the fight against world hunger. While organizations like the United Nations and the World Food Programme have taken charge on the international level, more local groups need to lead in individual communities if world hunger is to be truly eradicated.

The United Nations, UNICEF and The World Food Programme are just a few examples of groups that have brought widespread relief to nations around the globe.

Jacob Hess

Photo: Flickr

global education
As the world becomes more tightly connected, the opportunity and demand for education increase.

The sixth annual Global Education Conference explores the concept of redefining education. Over a period of four days, from Nov. 16 to 19, the conference promoted both classroom and “real world” education to provide participants with a well-rounded and highly informative experience.

The annual online event connects classrooms, raises awareness of cultural diversity and supports educational access for all. Anyone with internet access can learn more about upcoming changes in education, as well as promote their own ideas.

Though the Global Education Conference isn’t a conventional method of online learning, it offers many of the same benefits. Participants learn from speakers and instructors of many different countries and backgrounds and receive a much broader perspective on the topics.

Technology allows questions to be answered immediately and for multiple discussions to take place at once. The nonstop sessions make sure everyone, no matter how busy, can attend at least one seminar a day and choose the topic that best meets their interests.

The conference presented two topics in particular that could prove beneficial to the war on global poverty: learning more about refugees and understanding the relationship between poverty and education.

Because half of the Syrian refugees are children and many are in refugee camps instead of schools, the Global Education Conference dedicated a session to The Refugee Story Circle, a student-run project founded by Qatar Foundation International.

Resettled refugees had the opportunity to tell their personal experiences in a respected and dignified environment. The audience was then able to connect first-hand with the refugees through online discussions and letters of encouragement.

Richard Close, CEO of Chrysalis Campaign, Inc., explained the viewpoint of poverty and education. “Students who are given resources and encouragement realize over time that they have a bright future. Children who live in poverty learn early on to think, ‘What future?’ Consequently, they don’t develop the skills and self-motivation needed to succeed.”

Mary Brownell, a member of iEARN-USA, explained the nonprofit network’s partnership with Kids Can Make a Difference to encourage teachers to discuss hunger, inequality and poverty with their students.

“The goal is to imprint upon students what the effects really are on our world,” Brownell said.

Furthermore, impoverished students will feel like their needs are being addressed. Those who can’t attend schools will, hopefully, receive more attention and assistance.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Elluminate, EdSurge, Franklin University, Global Education Conference 1, Global Education Conference 2, iEARN
Photo: Europa Education

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, said that free college education in South Africa could become a possibility in the future.

In a recent interview for Bloomberg Business, President Zuma said, “It’s possible, but it’s not a question you can do overnight. You’ve got to be able to have the resources.”

President Zuma spoke out about the possibility for free college education in South Africa after the recent Fees Must Fall protest over South African universities’ increase in tuition and student costs. Students protested near Zuma’s offices in Pretoria by throwing stones at buildings and starting fires on the lawn outside the buildings.

Student enrollment in South Africa’s universities has doubled to nearly 1 million since the end of the apartheid, and the government wants that number to grow to 1.6 million by 2030. However, only about 5 percent of South African families can afford to comfortably pay their children’s university fees.

The South African Institute of Race Relations has analyzed whether it would be possible to provide free college education in South Africa. The Institute suggests that it is possible if the government can adjust its spending priorities.

Right now the spending level on universities in South Africa is around 0.8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, which comes to around 25 billion rands.

In order to make tertiary education free, an additional 71 billion rands is required. The South African Institute of Race Relations believes that such levels of funding are possible if government spending is adjusted.

The Institute found that if the state’s wage bill were to be cut by just 5 percent, it would give 22 billion rands toward universities. If military and defense were cut by 25 percent, this would send another 10 billion rands to universities. Finally, cutting off all subsidies to parastatals and other entities would deliver around 45 billion rands per year. These cuts total 77 billion rands.

According to The South African Institute of Race Relations, “our figures and estimates are deeply conservative and yet they suggest that fully subsidized undergraduate education is affordable for all students currently attending universities.”

Prioritizing government spending could make a free college education in South Africa a strong possibility, but it will take time and support from the South African government.

Jordan Connell

Sources: Bloomberg Business, Daily Maverick, IB Times
Photo: Wikimedia