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global education solutionsEducation is a paramount issue worldwide. Many don’t realize the number of people that aren’t capable of obtaining an educational experience, and the widespread need for global education solutions.

Key Facts to Know About Education

  • About 59 million children of primary school age are currently being denied an education.
  • Almost 15 million girls in primary school will never have the opportunity of learning to read and write.
  • It would take $39 billion annually, in order for all adolescents to attend school.
  • In a third of countries analyzed in UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, there are less than three-quarters of teachers trained to national standards — which has led to 130 million students in school who aren’t learning the basics.

Children fortunate enough to go to school don’t always realize how many people wish they had the same opportunity. Access to quality schooling is a current problem for children residing in multiple countries. In Africa, specifically, all children don’t have the opportunity to attend school due to wars, weather conditions, lack of secure environments, etc. These setbacks can breed an impoverished environment, which makes children have to sacrifice their right to an education for survival.

Many schools around the world are unsatisfactory due to unsanitary environments, the lack of classroom management and the inability for students to stay engaged. The capability to read, write and communicate is so vital, especially for very young children. These skills tend to be exciting for primary school students because they are more receptive to learn at this age.

Benefits of Education

Education is a vital tool that entails obtaining knowledge through experiences, specific subject matter and relative immersion. Looking at global education solutions, everyone’s learning experience is different. Some people may be homeschooled, while others may attend public or private school.

Education has always proven to be a beneficiary for those who were fortunate enough to attend school. Language development, reading, writing, and numeration are some of the basic skills of literacy. While these may seem like small elements, they contribute to a bigger picture. Education helps reduce poverty, increase income, stress the importance of good health/hygiene, boost the economic growth, prevent disaster-related deaths, promote gender equality, combat HIV/AIDS, etc. The list is infinite and has significant global impacts.

The longer one attends school, the more knowledge one will obtain. Missing an education, especially a high school diploma, can hold one back from acquiring a job in some countries. People tend to equate education with money, and to an extent, this is often a reliable mindset to have. Without an education or some form of trade experience, it is very hard to find a job that pays enough for life’s essentials — food, water and shelter. If one lacks an education and/or these basic necessities, it can make it extremely difficult to take care of oneself and family and can lead to poverty.

What Is The Solution?

Among the multitude of things that can be done to improve school systems, change begins through a society’s attitude about the value of education. This impacts how independent nations collaborate to aid those who lack strong educational systems. Next, a nationwide level of respect has to find its way into the classroom. Teachers absolutely have to be trained and certified to properly educate the youth in every subject.

According to the Learning for All Symposium arranged by the World Bank (2014), some countries will not meet their primary school teacher requirements by 2030. Filling in teacher gaps is a challenge that can make a tremendous difference to global education. School districts have to start by hiring the best candidates for teaching positions.

Funding is the most imperative matter as far as global education solutions go. Money is necessary to maintain schools and the instructional materials needed for students. Organizations such as the Global Education Fund, Global Partnership for Education and the International Education Funders Group (IEFG) provide and receive donations for school systems worldwide.

Organizations Contributing To Global Solutions

Statistically, girls are more likely to be married before the age of 18 than they are to be enrolled in secondary school in 26 countries across the globe.

Spreading awareness and the importance of getting an education is another major factor to global education solutions. Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, began a foundation in March of 2015, called Let Girls Learn. This organization brought together the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United States Department of Labor, United States Department of Agriculture and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as well as the United States President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS.

Recognizing the many issues that adolescent girls face when trying to pursue an education, this organization is invested in expanding educational opportunities. The agencies paired with Let Girls Learn are contributing to the cause by providing safe access to schools, helping rebuild education systems, creating alternative learning programs, improving the policy and access of schools and providing nutritious meals. Parallel to Let Girls Learn, there is a plethora of organizations with the same mission — help improve the education for the youth.

Save the Children

Save The Children is another foundation that assists children around the world by ensuring a healthy start to life, and presenting an equal opportunity for education. This organization trains teachers to engage with students through effective teaching practices and introduces children to the power of artistic expression — drawing, painting, dancing, music, etc. They fulfill their goal by implementing a strong foundation for learning, even during a crisis.

As of 2018, Save The Children has provided 13.8 million children the opportunity for an education. This organization accomplishes such an amazing feat through childhood development programs that help children survive physically and emotionally; financial services that provide and educate children on money and savings in order to break the cycle of poverty; and even youth employment.

Global Education is something that can’t be entirely solved until everyone does their part to help out. Governments, school systems and parents need to work in tandem to help children receive the learning experiences they deserve.

– Kayla Sellers
Photo: Google

2018 Federal Budget Threatens the Peace CorpsMost of the coverage of President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy has focused on budget cuts to foreign aid and drastic changes to USAID. Often overlooked among the alarming changes proposed by the president are the potential cuts to national service programs such as the Peace Corps. Since the 1960s, the Peace Corps has served as an important service that the United States offers to developing nations. The proposed 2018 federal budget threatens the Peace Corps with a 15 percent funding cut.

President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961. The Peace Corps Mission has three goals: to help people in other countries; to encourage better understanding of Americans; and for Americans to better understand other. The programs consist of three months of training and two years of service in an assigned country. Since its inception, almost 220,000 volunteers have served in 141 developing countries.

In the past half-century, the Peace Corps has run a variety of initiatives to meet the specific needs of developing countries. Peace Corps volunteers currently serve in over 60 countries, mostly in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

Ongoing initiatives include fighting HIV/AIDS; combatting hunger; protecting the environment and improving access to technology. One of the newest Peace Corps programs is Let Girls Learn. Led by former first lady Michelle Obama, this initiative aims to help girls around the world gain better access to education and prevent pregnancy at a young age.

The benefits of the Peace Corps go both ways. More than just providing foreign financial aid, the Peace Corps helps and instructs local populations to be healthier, more equitable and more sustainable. In turn, the volunteers that provide these services receive job and language skills in addition to an important cultural and learning experience.

President Trump cited balancing the national budget and emphasizing national security as reasons for the funding cuts. However, foreign aid funding currently takes up less than one percent of the national budget. This move is as unlikely to balance the budget as it is to strengthen national security. Goodwill missions like the Peace Corps improve U.S. relations with developing countries. And efforts that help stabilize these areas preempt extremism and other national security threats.

Assisting the Peace Corps is hardly most Americans’ top priority, but it is an effective government agency that benefits developing nations, young Americans and U.S. interests. Since the 2018 federal budget threatens the Peace Corps, U.S. citizens would do well to highlight the importance of the Peace Corps to their elected officials and urge them to secure Peace Corps funding in 2018.

Bret Anne Serbin

Photo: Flickr/span>

Peace Corps

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961. The group is a government program that Americans are encouraged to participate in if they are passionate for seeing change in the world.

The Peace Corps’ “work at the forefront of change is turning the world’s challenges into shared triumphs.” Their mission is twofold: to make lasting relationships with countries abroad and to serve the international communities that need it the most.

This government agency would not be where it is today without its team of volunteers. Since the beginning, the Peace Corps received over 220,000 volunteers.

Serving as a volunteer in the Peace Corps, one embarks on a two-year journey to a foreign country in need of help. The program makes sure that each volunteer can contribute something special by utilizing his or her specific skills.

Not only do volunteers make a difference in the lives of the community members they are serving, but they also acquire a self-knowledge and perspective that cannot be taught.

In the words of a Corps volunteer, “the cultural humility and wide-lens perspective I gained in Uganda will echo through everything I do in my own country.”

Each volunteer can recall different aspects of serving in the Peace Corps that were fundamental to forming their being: strength, dedication, hard work or communication.

With their team of dedicated volunteers, the Peace Corps has helped over 60 countries in many different fields. Examples include agriculture, the environment, economic development, health, education and youth development.

So, is the Peace Corps truly making a difference? Yes, on many levels. There are daily success stories, small and big, from volunteers and workers in the Peace Corps. Whether this is educating a mother about proper nutrition for her baby or eliminating malaria in African communities, each success is worthy of celebration.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr

Peace Corps
The Peace Corps, since its inception under President John F. Kennedy, has engaged young people in efforts to make the world a better place through international assistance. Now, a new wave of university Peace Corp partner programs is promoting academic access and opening the door for more young people to participate in poverty relief efforts.

Through the Peace Corps, college-aged volunteers are given the opportunity to live abroad in developing countries for two-year rotations. While deployed, they develop their skills with local languages and provide assistance to their host communities. While the aid they provide may take different forms, from education to health support, their goal is always to improve the living conditions of poverty-stricken people.

The history of cooperation between the Peace Corps and universities already spans decades. For 30 years, the Master’s International Program, an initiative of the Corps, offered students a chance to take part in 96 graduate programs across the country and finish their degrees while serving in the Peace Corps abroad. Though the program officially ended in 2016, the Peace Corps has created more university outreach programs.

Replacing the venerable Master’s International Program is another academic access opportunity, the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. Like its predecessor, the Coverdell Fellows Program will focus on graduate students, offering financial assistance to returning Peace Corps volunteers as they pursue degrees focused on providing assistance to struggling communities.

Graduate students in the program are required to embark on internships focused on using their Corps experience to help underserved American communities. To date, the program has already given over 5,000 returning Corps volunteers financial assistance while they serve their communities.

More exciting developments in the Peace Corps’ battery of university partner programs are initiatives focused on undergraduate students. Started in 2007, the Peace Corps Prep Program provides university students with the skills they need to obtain Peace Corps positions and make the most of their volunteer opportunities if they are able to serve overseas.

Training is focused on four areas in a certificate program: sector-specific skills, foreign language proficiency, intercultural competence and professional savvy and leadership. Students enrolled in Peace Corps Prep also receive assistance applying for Peace Corps roles.

Finally, the Campus Ambassador Program allows students to help Corps recruiters raise awareness about poverty around the world and efforts to provide relief. Students working as campus ambassadors gain valuable community engagement experience while helping the Corps educate others about volunteer opportunities around the world.

These partnerships between the Peace Corps and universities are examples of smart, forward-thinking policy. Globally-focused academic access programs in the U.S. are essential to tackling the problem of poverty abroad. Investing in education now can help produce the next generation of leaders focused on world poverty reduction.

Will Sweger

Photo: Flickr

Let_Girls_Learn_InitiativeMichelle Obama is making strides with her Let Girls Learn initiative.

Let Girls Learn was launched by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in March of 2015. Its goal is to unite existing agencies with programs to further global education for girls and to bring focus to the issue.

Organizations involved include the U.S. Department of State, USAID and the Peace Corps.

On March 16, Mrs. Obama published a letter about the importance of girls’ education to her, personally. The letter was published with Lenny Letter. Lenny Letter is a “feminist arts newsletter” founded by Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO TV series “Girls,” and her writing partner, Jenni Conner.

Mrs. Obama’s letter is the latest in a series of feminist contributions from well-known personalities such as Jennifer Lawrence.

In her letter, Mrs. Obama describes how her world travels as First Lady of the United States have put a personal face on the issue of education for girls. Obama’s conversations with young women around the world showed her that, despite the many roadblocks they faced (such as being required to help their parents and siblings or to marry and start families of their own at very young ages) they were hopeful about the possibilities education could provide them.

Obama says she feels a kinship with these young women.

“I see myself in these girls—in their ambition and their determination to rise above their circumstances,” said Mrs. Obama.

Also on March 16, Mrs. Obama gave a keynote address at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX. She spoke of her work with Let Girls Learn and also presented a song written for the initiative. Artists like Missy Elliot, Kelly Clarkson and Janelle Monae, among others, came together to perform the song, written by Diane Warren.

According to CNN, the proceeds from iTunes sales of the song, “This is for My Girls,” will go to the Peace Corps for the work they do for the Let Girls Learn initiative.

Ms. Obama also kicked off a pledge drive for people to show their support for educating girls around the globe.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr

Peace CorpsOn Mar. 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order to establish a new “army” of civilians who would volunteer their time to help underdeveloped nations. This army, as JFK referred to it during his 1960 presidential campaign, was the Peace Corps.

According to Politico, Kennedy wrote a message to Congress stating that the people of underdeveloped nations were “struggling for economic and social progress.” He also went on to say, “Our own freedom and the future of freedom around the world, depend, in a very real sense, on their ability to build growing and independent nations where men can live in dignity, liberated from the bonds of hunger, ignorance and poverty.”

Congress, at first, was skeptical. In response, Representative Marguerite Sitt Church, who had traveled to sub-Saharan Africa, defended the bill by speaking about the importance of on-the-ground work in underdeveloped areas.

Representative Catherine May noted the impact of Church’s words: “You quite literally could see people who had been uncertain or perhaps who had already decided to vote against the Peace Corps sit there, listen to her very quietly and start to rethink.”

The House then approved the bill for the volunteer organization in a 288-97 vote and Kennedy issued the executive order to establish it.

Since its launch, the Peace Corps has done incredible work. Currently, the organization has 6,919 volunteers and trainees, with over 220,000 Americans serving since it was created.

Volunteers carry out work such as helping build sewer and water systems, constructing and teaching in schools, helping develop crops and teaching effective agricultural methods. A majority of the work is done in Africa but volunteers also assist nations in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands.

The Peace Corps celebrated its 55th anniversary at Georgia Gwinnett College, which was selected in 2014 as one of the six universities and colleges for the Peace Corps Prep Program, based on their demonstrated interest in promoting international learning and providing service opportunities to their students.

Students were invited to attend the event to celebrate the anniversary and learn about becoming Peace Corps volunteers, marking the next generation of Americans that will serve with the program and make a difference in countries in need around the world.

Kerri Whelan

Sources: Politico, Peace Corps 1, Peace Corps 2, Peace Corps 3, Peace Corps 4, GGC

peace_corps
The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for people of all walks of life to give back to the world and help communities develop sustainably. Founded in 1961, the mission of the Peace Corps is “to promote peace and friendship” around the world.

The structure of the Peace Corps has evolved greatly to advance with the rise of globalization and the development of new strategies and technologies that address the challenges developing nations face. Peace Corps volunteers often have very rewarding and fulfilling experiences. Volunteers gain community level development experience and new perspectives of life.

Here are just five examples of the hundreds of unique Peace Corps volunteer positions available:

1. Teach English in Micronesia– Volunteers teach English literacy to children in elementary school who speak the languages of their local islands. They work with host teachers to motivate and teach the children. While living with a host family, a volunteer in this position will experience exciting local development work.

2. Work as a Community Health Outreach Volunteer in Mozambique– Volunteers work at the community level to address needs for HIV prevention and treatment, malaria prevention and community health facility support. Volunteers live in a home with other volunteers in a rural setting with a thatched or tin roof.

3. Help Manage Coastal Resources in the Philippines– Volunteers work with local fishing communities, the government and partner organizations to implement conservation and sustainable use for marine resources. The sites are often rural and local transport is primarily small boats and bikes.

4. Work with Youth in Morocco– Volunteers teach English and help youth gain leadership skills, environmental awareness and business skills. They work in youth centers and also partner with community programs that address health and education.

5. Assist in Agriculture Development in Paraguay– Responsibilities involve working with small farming families to help them optimize their resources to ensure food security and enhance quality of life. This is a specialized opportunity to utilize Spanish language skills and also learn Guarani in order to communicate in more remote areas.

While the two-year Peace Corps commitment may appear daunting to some, there is as reason why the application process is competitive and employers love to see Peace Corps service on resumes.

The experience provides meaningful, important service to people in developing countries, while helping you to gain valuable fieldwork experience and broaden your perspective on how people live around the world. Currently, the Peace Corps has 6,818 volunteers and trainees. You could soon be a part of this dedicated group.

– Iliana Lang

Sources: Peace Corps, Youth Health
Photo: Flickr

Peace_Corps
Founded by President Kennedy in 1961, the Peace Corps has enabled thousands of Americans to serve abroad. If you’re thinking about a commitment to the Peace Corps, here are five reasons to sign up.

To Help Others

Peace Corps volunteers are driven by the need to serve others. They are typically placed abroad for commitments of 27 months, during which volunteers assist in local development projects.

These projects may deal with issues of food security, global health or gender equality. Volunteers partner with NGOs to ensure measurable results in the communities that they serve.

For example, one of the Peace Corps’ global health initiatives is the Stomping Out Malaria program. The initiative seeks to halt the spread of malaria through Africa. Volunteers partner with organizations like Malaria No More to support those who are endangered by the deadly but preventable disease.

To See the World

The mission of the Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship. Volunteers serve as citizen diplomats abroad and encourage international cooperation. For those who want to see the world, the Peace Corps offers a unique opportunity to live and work abroad.

Peace Corps volunteers spend several months overseas. Almost 150 countries have received volunteers to date and there are 64 countries that partner with the organization today.

Applicants can select up to three preferred locations and work sectors. It is also possible to select a “wherever I am needed” option that places volunteers in a location that would benefit the most from a Peace Corps placement.

After 27 months of service, volunteers are also given an $8,755 stipend (before taxes). This money can be used for travel once the period of service has ended.

To Grow as a Person

Peace Corps volunteers gain many different skills during their time of service. This can be useful for both personal and career development.

The Peace Corps opens new doors to other cultures that would be difficult to experience otherwise. For example, the organization provides instruction in a wide variety of languages.

The Peace Corps is also a great way to build a career. Volunteers learn leadership and teamwork, which are invaluable in almost every professional setting. Employers value cultural awareness and the ability to adapt to difficult situations.

For those looking to start a career in international development, the Peace Corps can be a great way to gain experience and make connections abroad.

To Help Defer Student Loans

Most Peace Corps volunteers are college graduates, which means a lot of volunteers will have some student loan debt. Those who serve in the Peace Corps are still solely responsible for these loans. However, they may qualify for a deferment on federal loans while serving in the Peace Corps.

Additionally, students with Perkins loans may qualify for a partial cancellation of these loans, depending on the length of their Peace Corps service as well as other considerations.

To Join a Growing Network of Returned Volunteers

The benefits of joining the Peace Corps don’t end after 27 months. Returning volunteers join a network of over 200,000 people who have completed their service.

This network can be used to keep in touch, meet other volunteers or to assist with reintegration back home. Returned volunteers who are looking for a job will find the network helpful as well.

– Kevin McLaughlin

Sources: Peace Corps 1, Peace Corps 2, Humanitarian Jobs
Photo: MIIS Communications

peace corps
The Peace Corps has recently announced that, in order to increase its number of applicants, it will be making major changes to how the organization is run. Namely, the application process will be shorter and applicants will be given the ability to choose which country and program interests them.

Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961 by President Kennedy, the organization has drawn more than 215,000 volunteers who have served in 139 impoverished countries. Volunteers stay in their assigned country for two years where they work in a number of fields including education, health services and agriculture. As the premier international service organization in the U.S., almost everyone has heard of the Peace Corps and many aspire to volunteer with it one day.

However, the positive image of the Peace Corps has been tarnished in recent years due to some volunteers’ bad experiences, which have been shared online and seen by many.

The number of applicants, which peaked in 2009, has fallen by more than a third since. Previously, applications were 60 pages long and took more than eight hours to complete. After submitting an application, one might not hear back about an acceptance for more than a year. The new application supposedly takes less than one hour to complete and the organization is promising to reduce wait times to no more than six months.

Additionally, applicants did not have the liberty to choose which country in which they wanted to serve. Countries and programs were assigned by the Peace Corps, sending people wherever they were needed most. The new model allows applicants to list countries and programs in order of preference. While this could lead to fewer volunteers in more dangerous countries, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet says she is not worried about this, as many of the people who are drawn to the two-year long volunteer lifestyle are also intrigued by the more difficult areas and programs.

Unfortunately, the problems within the Peace Corps go deeper than the application process. Sixty-four percent of volunteers are women and in the past decade more than 1,000 of them have been raped or sexually assaulted while serving. Victims say that the Peace Corps did little to nothing to educate volunteers on self-defense, relocate volunteers who felt in danger or help victims after an attack. Many victims claim the Peace Corps blamed them for the assault and made attempts to cover up the incident.

While most volunteers have a positive experience serving for the Peace Corps, there is still a question of how safe the program actually is and what the organization can do to improve this. Women who have been raped or sexually assaulted say that the Peace Corps needs to address the issue and do all they can to help the women receive treatment for any physical and emotional damage. Hessler-Radelet, who is relatively new to her position as director, has agreed that the Peace Corps has a commitment to its volunteers and should be helping them.

Taylor Lovett

Sources: NPR, Peace Corps, ABC News
Photo: Peace Corps

peace corps
The United States Peace Corps has suspended activity in Kenya, pulling out over 50 volunteers across the country. This is the second time in the last decade Peace Corps volunteers have been evacuated from Kenya for safety reasons.

Tensions are high in the East African state, where a spike in grenade and gunfire assaults over the last couple years, including a mall attack leaving 67 dead last fall, has raised serious concerns by Peace Corps officials on behalf of their volunteers. After a recent security assessment failed to meet the organization’s standards, they felt it necessary to put efforts on hold for an undetermined amount of time until conditions improve.

The Peace Corps press director, Shira Kramer, told Devex that “volunteers’ safety and security are the Peace Corps’ top priorities” and they will reassess the situation “at an appropriate future date to determine if and when volunteers can return.”

The U.S. State Department heightened security measures earlier this year and removed various personnel as well, transferred a regional U.S. Agency for International Development office out of the country, and stationed armed Marines outside and on top of the embassy building.

The Associated Press spoke with three Peace Corps volunteers pulled out of Kenya who attested to the increased emphasis on security by the U.S. government organization. Eventually conditions reached a point where, despite any precautionary efforts, the safety of aid workers could not be guaranteed.

“Some volunteers weren’t very pleased with the level of security they provided, but I’m not sure what they were expecting. We don’t have security guards to protect us, and it’s Kenya, so sometimes bad things happen regardless of any preventative measures,” said volunteer Nick Shcuetz.

“They taught us to be smart about our surroundings and to trust the hairs on the back of our necks to sense whether it was a safe situation or not. And some things like bombings or grenade attacks, you just can’t prepare for other than leaving the country,” he added.

The U.S. was in quiet talks for a while about suspending Peace Corps activity in Kenya. The tipping point was, perhaps, the fatal gunshot to a German tourist on a Kenyan beach just days before the official announcement to withdraw. The Peace Corps volunteers pulled out of Kenya thought the decision was reasonable as well.

The Peace Corps’ ability was able to accurately assess the state of security in Kenya and evacuate its members at what seems like the appropriate point in time. The decision is reinforced by the testimonies of the field workers removed from their stations who, for the most part, felt safe up until just before their removal.

The volunteers and officials recognize that the situation is not victimless, however. The Peace Corps assisted in education, health and community and economic development including HIV/AIDS treatment and counseling for numerous Kenyans. Those who depended on the organization’s services will suffer most until conditions stabilize and any developmental progress boosted by the U.S. will stagnate in the meantime as well.

“Kenya is spearheading the growth and trends of so many sectors in East Africa,” said volunteer Travis Axe. “It is a shame to see such a wonderful program be cut from a country that has so much potential.”

– Edward Heinrich

Sources: Daily Mail, Devex, The Star
Photo: Daily Mail