The Republic of Mauritius is a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, located just east of Madagascar and the African continent. It gained independence from Great Britain in 1968 and became a Republic in 1992. Education in Mauritius is still in its early stages, in a former British colony, mirrors the British system of education.

Much like other places around the world, the island nation’s educational system offers primary and secondary education. Children begin their primary education at the age of five. There are six elementary school years, at the end of which students take the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examination. The next step is admission into a secondary school.

Like primary education, attendance at secondary school in Mauritius is compulsory, until age 16. Students attend for five to seven years, depending on exam scores that keep them on an academic track or transition them into vocational programs. Those who stay the full seven years take additional exams for the opportunity to move on to post-secondary and university education.

Many children ages three through five attend pre-primary schools. According to Statistics Mauritius for 2016, nearly 29,000 students were enrolled in such schools. Almost 100 percent of the population of 4 to 5-year-olds attended pre-primary schools. More than 97,300 (97 percent) students enrolled in 318 primary schools for the 2016 school year. While the number enrolled in secondary school grew to over 110,000, only 72 percent of students eligible attended.

The problem with education in Mauritius is retention. Attendance drops 25 percent from primary to secondary school. There needs to be a bigger focus on retaining students as they progress through secondary education and beyond.

One key indicator of success is the educators themselves and how many are teaching the children. A lower student/teacher ratio is critical to obtain the best possible education for each student. With more students per teacher, some students are overlooked and do not get the attention they require to learn. In Mauritius, the ratio improves the older students get, from 24 in primary education to 13 in secondary schools. Unfortunately, this is because of secondary school attrition.

While the Republic of Mauritius is very young, school enrollment has been high. Although education in Mauritius has produced students who are achieving better scores, there remains room for improvement and growth. A stable foundation has been laid, and quality is only going to increase.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Maldives is improving. The country has grown into a middle-income country over the past 40 years. Its population has steadily increased, sitting now at nearly 410,000 people. Life expectancy at birth has also increased steadily and consistently in the Southern-Asian group of islands in the Indian Ocean over the past five decades. The Maldives life expectancy at birth was just 37 in 1960. It currently stands at more than 76 years of age.

Economically, the former British Protectorate and current climate change champion has bettered itself largely in the past decade. The country’s Gross National Income (GNI), or the sum of the value added by all resident producers, was less than $3,500 per capita in 2003. That number climbed gradually, topping out at $4,000 in 2007.

GNI per capita in the Maldives skyrocketed over the next 10 years, bounding up to $4,880 in 2008, $5,030 in 2009 and nearly $7,000 by 2015.

In reference to a more widely understood, accepted and analyzed statistic, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), poverty in the Maldives has rebounded since the turn of the century.

Annual GDP growth percentage figures fell off the cliff from 2004 to 2005, dropping more than 21 percentage points, from 12.5 percent growth to shrinking by 8.7 percent.

However, GPD growth was up 28.3 percent the following year, to 19.6 percent annual GDP growth in 2006. Since that time, growth in GDP has leveled out and remained consistent, around 3.5 percent today.

In 2009, it was estimated by the World Bank that 15.7 percent of the population lived in poverty in the Maldives. Severe poverty was 7.3 percent, measured as the proportion of those living on less than $1.90 a day.

Today more than 98 percent drink clean water, and 97.9 percent have access to improved sanitation facilities. Poverty in the Maldives is not entirely reflected in its GDP either as it currently sits at $3.4 billion and growing.

According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, poverty in the Maldives may not be improving, as the collection of Southern-Asian islands in the Indian Ocean continues to spend, dropping its gross national savings eight percent in two years (2014-2016).

Poverty in Maldives — if measured by unemployment numbers — presents a problem in that more than 11.5 percent of its 392,960 people are without work.

While some facts and figures project an improving economy, poverty in the Maldives remains an issue as the country spends more than its revenue and works to combat climate change. The region has witnessed fiscal expansion and domestic growth, yet may feel after effects of an unbalanced trade ratio in coming years.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Alleviation in Maldives
The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean. The country is comprised of 26 ring-shaped atolls, which are made up of about 1,190 islands — 198 are inhabited. The tropical country is known for its beautiful beaches, lagoons and reefs and is largely economically driven by tourism. The country has also become known in recent years for its rapid economic advancement to a middle-income country. A dedication to poverty alleviation in the Maldives has come hand-in-hand with its growing economy.

In the 1980s, Maldives was one of the 20 poorest countries in the world. The leaders of the country dedicated funding and resources to creating a nationwide transportation system, affordable living and housing costs, quality universal health care and the prevention of narcotics abuse and trafficking.

Maldives capital city, Male, has been one of the most densely populated cities in the world for many years. The transportation system and diversifying economy has taken some pressure off of the capital to sustain the majority of economic activities.

The Maldives have also demonstrated a commitment to democracy and fairness in politics. Multi-party democracy was implemented for the first time in 2005 and in 2008, a new constitution embodying democratic principles was ratified. This was quickly followed by the country’s first free elections. The new democratic movement in the Maldives has guaranteed separation of powers and election of a new Parliament, president and an independent judiciary.

Both tourism and the fishing industry have boosted the Maldives economy and provided steady jobs and incomes for thousands of citizens.

According to the World Bank, the number of people living below the poverty line shrunk from 23 percent in 2002 to 15.7 percent in 2009. The life expectancy of the average Maldivian also increased by 20 years between 1977 and 1995. Although the growth rate has slowed slightly in recent years due to things like the 2004 tsunami and the ups and downs of the global economy, it is expected to pick back up again before 2017.

The average GDP growth rate for the Maldives was close to six percent between 2000 and 2009, making it one of the highest in all of Asia. It has rapidly advanced to a middle-income country and due to this, has been able to make tangible progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

Despite the impressive advancements made by the Maldives in recent years, the country still faces several challenges on its way to prosperity. Rising sea levels and climate change are a huge threat to the nation, as 80 percent of the land area of its islands is less than one meter about sea level. The new constitution outlines the protection of the environment as a key human right, and tourism outlets and fisheries have begun to develop eco-friendly policies.

Economic growth and poverty alleviation in the Maldives has allowed it to become one of the fastest developing nations in South Asia.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

MayotteMayotte is a former French colony. It is composed of several islands and lies within the Comoros Islands off the coast of Southwestern Africa in the Indian Ocean. However, in 1975 when the Comoros Islands chose to declare independence from France, Mayotte opted to remain as a French dependency. This has led to some negative views of Mayotte from the Comoros Islands.

Although it is difficult to find detailed information about the condition of poverty in Mayotte due to its small population and complex relationship with France, development remains a major problem facing the country.

The 247,386 people of Mayotte are considered French citizens and live under French law. While Mayotte’s connection to France provides some financial advantages, most individuals identify culturally and religiously with the Majority Muslim Comoran people. Mayotte became a member of the European Union in 2014.

This past spring, unrest over poverty in Mayotte came to a head as violent riots led by trade unions broke out in the streets. One activist shares his concern with French news station France 24, “a primary school student on the French mainland gets €7,400 (from the government)… In Mayotte, it is €4,300 ($4,850). That is injustice”.

Despite their status as a French territory, many Mahorais feel neglected by the French government. In 2011, over 84 percent of Mahorais lived below the poverty line compared to just 16 percent in France. There is also an extreme disparity between the upper class — which includes many French expatriates — and lower class of Mayotte. Of note, Mayotte’s GDP per capita is less than a quarter (€7,99) of France’s.

Mahorais also face concerns of rapidly increasing immigration — mainly from the Surrounding Comoros Islands — from individuals seeking French citizenship and a presumed higher standard of living. More than 40 percent of the Mayotte population were born outside of the country and immigrated to look for work.

In May, local anti-immigration groups took actions to expel many of the immigrants (over 700 people in one village alone), regardless of their legal status. Both French and Mahorai officials have spoken out against the forced expulsions. However, these events also prove to French officials that the Mahorais expect their concerns to be taken seriously.

In light of the unrest, France has since sent numerous officials to Mayotte to try to ease tension and put an end to the violence.

Politically and financially Mayotte is aligned with France, but they fit in more with the geography and culture of the Comoros Islands. However, due to its close ties to France Mayotte is much wealthier than surrounding islands. Hopefully, the territory can use its position within the French government to seek further assistance regarding poverty in Mayotte and unrest due to growing immigration concerns.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

Poverty In Seychelles
Since gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1976, the Republic of Seychelles has made tremendous strides in its social, political and economic sectors. However, poverty in Seychelles still remains a major concern.

The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. The country consists of a total of 115 islands, with only ten currently inhabited.

Of the country’s 86,000 inhabitants, 39.3 percent of the citizens are estimated to live below the poverty line. Data gathered by both Rural Poverty Portal and CNN report that economic issues have directly resulted in perpetuating poverty in Seychelles.

Seychelles’ economy is described as being rather unpredictable as it heavily relies on two major industries: tourism and fishing. While both industries provided sustainable income in the past, geographical obstacles and recent climate change threaten future sustainability.

The geography of Seychelles makes trade and export particularly difficult since all products must be either shipped or flown to and from the island. Additionally, the distance that Seychelles has from markets in Asia and the Pacific forces the country to pay high insurance and tariff fees for goods imported into the island. This disadvantage resulted in an increase in fuel and food prices, leaving many citizens at an economic disadvantage.

Likewise, geographic location makes it susceptible to piracy, which often results in financial blows to tourism and fishing. For instance, CNN states that piracy damages the fishing industry by forcing the government of Seychelles to restrict fishermen from sailing beyond specific perimeters off the coast. These governmental restrictions have lead to overfishing and competition between local fishermen.

In addition, recent climate change negatively affected the economic stability of Seychelles. Climate change has made weather patterns increasingly unpredictable — a lack of foresight that disrupts the productivity of Seychelles local farmers.

In regards to climate change, the Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues of the Republic of Seychelles, Ronald Jumeau, states that “[Climate change] affects the rains. The drought is getting longer. The rainy season is getting shorter. We’re getting the same amount of rain in less time, which creates landslides in the hills, and that sort of thing.”

Additionally, there is hope for those who are suffering from poverty in Seychelles. The country’s government has taken small steps in reducing poverty by tackling climate change and improving economic flaws.

In recent years, government officials in Seychelles have taken major efforts to combat climate change by legally protecting half of the country’s land area from further human development. In addition, Seychelles committed itself to ending piracy through the signing of anti-piracy laws with the EU, as well as tax exchange agreements with The Isle of Man. Both decisions shall benefit Seychelles and improve the country’s economic relations.

Regardless of these improvements, the government still has a plethora of work to do to completely eradicate poverty in Seychelles.

Teamwork is essential to positive change, and this small country could experience a massive decline in poverty if those dedicated to eradicating global poverty and significant figures in the government of Seychelles collaborated with one another to combat economic and environmental issues.

Shannon N. Warren

Photo: Flickr

sri lankan safety
On December 26, 2004, an earthquake at the bottom of the Indian ocean triggered an enormous tsunami that washed over large swaths of Southern Asia. Though Sri Lanka was technically only the second hardest-hit country (Indonesia having seen the most death and destruction,) it still experienced an overwhelming loss of life and infrastructure. On that day nearly 10 years ago, 40,000 Sri Lankans were killed as the massive wave crashed over their homes, schools and offices.

We all remember that day, so it’s no surprise that Sri Lankans have not forgotten the pain they endured that day and in the months and years that followed in which they strove to rebuild what they could of what was lost. By better preparing themselves for natural disasters, Sri Lankans hope to ensure that rebuilding their communities has not been for naught.

Research efforts supported by the International Development Research Centre have been used to design alert systems that will increase Sri Lankan safety and better inform communities when disasters are headed their way, giving individuals more time to protect themselves and their families. These new alert systems were specifically created to be able to access even the most remote areas of Sri Lanka, where inadequate communication on behalf of government authorities left unaware individuals most vulnerable.

To be used in circumstances of tsunami, tornadoes, earthquakes and other “rapid-onset disasters,” the new national warning system is sure to save many lives with the next natural disaster that hits Sri Lanka. By investing in the safety of its citizens, Sri Lanka is also investing in a more prosperous populace.

Natural disasters can quickly throw individuals into abject poverty, leveling their homes and workplaces in a span of minutes. Though the new alert system does not strengthen the infrastructure rebuilt in the 10 years since the Boxing Day tsunami, by allowing individuals to seek shelter sooner when natural disasters are headed toward them, Sri Lanka is simultaneously allowing those individuals to protect themselves and their families against the destruction these disasters can wreak on humans, which itself can cost thousands of dollars.

Other developing nations would be wise to emulate Sri Lankan safety by better preparing themselves for the natural disasters that occur in their corners of the world. Protection from destruction is a step toward flourishing in the future – a fate which many more Sri Lankans can now happily expect.

— Elise L. Riley

Sources: IDRC, BBC
Photo: Sunday Observer

Picture the beautiful Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Madagascar. Then picture the repulsive Aedes albopictus, a pesty little vermin that’s biting its way to the top of the World’s 100 Worst Invasive Alien Species list.

Put them together and you get an island devastated by the chikungunya epidemic, which has since infected one-third of the island’s population, a total of 250,000 people. $60 million of emergency aid has been sent from France, to hopefully pick up the pieces of the island’s once thriving tourist economy.

Derived from a word in the Kimakonde language of southern Tanzania, chikungunya translates to “to become contorted,” describing the stooped appearance of sufferers experiencing joint pain. The disease was first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952 and has recently been rearing its ugly head once again.

Described as similar to malaria and dengue fever, this mosquito-borne viral disease is characterized by severe muscle pains, high fevers, lymph node swellings, rashes, and red eyes. It is transmitted by the bites of infected female mosquitoes, most commonly the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictusspecies, both of which tend to be found in highly populated, urban areas. After the bite of an infected mosquito the onset of illness occurs anywhere between 3 – 12 days.

Most patients recover fully but there have been reported cases of joint pain persisting for years following the illness, as well as eye, neurological and heart complications.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already raised concerns, especially to travellers, regarding the growing numbers of chikungunya infection. The virus is easily spread, especially through international travel, and although not life-threatening there is still no vaccine for its treatment.

As chikungunya is similar to other mosquito-borne viruses, similar safety precautions have been recommended to prevent subsequent infections. Repellant, indoor spraying of insecticides, and mosquito nets are but a few of the preventive measures that can be taken.

Most recently, outbreaks of the disease have been reported in Asia, the south Pacific, the Caribbean islands, and Australia. The WHO reports that since 2005, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives and Myanmar have reported over 1.9 million cases. In 2007, the virus was reported for the first time in Europe, in a localized outbreak in northern Italy. In 2013, there were a reported 127 cases of the disease in Australia, an increase of 568% within twelve months.

These statistics show that, although originating in Africa, the virus seems to have made its way across the globe with no signs of slowing down. We can only hope that a more effective treatment will soon be found, lest there be hundreds more Réunion’s devastated by the smallest of foes.

Mollie O’Brien

Sources: New Vision, Herald Sun, WHO, The Australian
Photo: CDC

2004 Thailand Tsunami
December 26, 2004. Billions of people were waking up, making coffee, or in other parts of the globe preparing for a good night’s sleep. On the coast of Thailand, billions of tons of water crashed onto the shores. An extremely powerful earthquake, classified as a ‘megathrust’, caused an enormous Tsunami. Major damage was suffered up and down the coastline, including the eco-resort of KhaoLak.  A classic warning sign of an impending tsunami is a trough, when the ocean is pulled back from the shore before the waves come down. Sunbathers and swimmers alike did not have time to register this warning as they were distracted by the thousands of fish left on the sand. Nearly six thousand people were killed, and many of them were vacationing tourists. Hundreds more were injured or displaced from their destroyed homes. The main city with excellent hospitals, Phuket, became the main area of medical care during the aftermath and was covered intensively by media and news crews.

Under a ‘memorandum of understanding’, the U.S. donated with other nations Part One of the DartII buoy system to Thailand. The system uses ‘tsunameters’ and seismic information to predict potential tsunamis. The goal is to give everyone on the Indian Ocean from Thailand to Sri Lanka a sixty minute warning before another tsunami strikes. The systems have been implemented gradually since 2005, and are known collectively as the Indian Ocean Project. Thailand today is almost reminiscent of what it was before the tsunami ever struck. Beach days and nightlife are in full swing, hotel rates are down, shopping is up, and Thailand is welcoming visitors and tourists for the New Year. Economically, tourists visiting will help boost the market and get Thailand back to a stable place from which they will continue to grow.

The Impossible  is a feature length film that was released in 2012, eight years after the tsunami struck Thailand. It is based on the true story of Maria and Henry Bennet as well as their three sons, Thomas, Lucas, and Simon. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play the parents of the three boys that were staying at a resort on vacation when the Tsunami struck.  Maria and Lucas were separated and stranded on the coastline, both severely injured. Henry, Simon, and Lucas had survived and ended up searching the resort for the rest of their family before traveling to Phuket to search the hospitals. Maria and Lucas ended up being aided by locals and also taken to the hospital in Phuket. The movie follows their harrowing and desperately hopeful story of surviving the tsunami and finding their way back together which, in the end, they do. The real family has returned to the beach every Christmas Day since, as a reminder to themselves and their children not to live in fear but to conquer the impossible.

Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Phuket Thailand, Jakarta Post, IMDB