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Vulnerable Children in KenyaOrganizations like UNICEF and ACAKORO have been providing educational resources to Kenyan students despite the immense difficulties in the country due to COVID-19 and 2020’s locust invasion. On March 15, 2020, the Kenyan Government forced schools to shut down due to COVID-19. Due to school closures, millions of students risk losing out on education during the pandemic. Organizations stepped in to provide resources, remote learning services and sanitation facilities to vulnerable children in Kenya.

Education in Kenya

Over the past decade, poverty in Kenya has improved due to the country meeting many of its Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals are goals created by the United Nations to help underdeveloped nations improve and one of these goals is to achieve universal primary education. A key issue that Kenya needs to address is education disparities. According to a UNICEF study conducted in 2014, low educational attainment of the household head and living in rural areas is the highest indicator that predicts child poverty.

Impoverished children struggle to gain an education. More than 1.2 million primary-school-age children do not attend school. Even more vulnerable children like orphans have increased susceptibility to experiencing education disparities.

Employment in Kenya

Young people in search of employment experience difficulties finding a job that lifts them out of poverty. Only 1% of Kenyan youth have a university education and many young people are entering a job market with few hirable skills. A whole 40% of the youth in Kenya either did not go to school or failed to complete primary education and the largest percentage of people unemployed in Kenya is represented by those aged between 15 and 24. Higher education in Kenya is expensive and not accessible to disadvantaged children.

UNICEF Provides Aid

Nationwide access to quality education is key in reducing poverty and investing in the futures of vulnerable children in Kenya. UNICEF alleviated education burdens during the COVID-19 crisis by providing remote learning to students and giving solar-powered radios and textbooks to vulnerable families. Through UNICEF’s solar-powered radios, 40,000 vulnerable children were reached with educational resources that are necessary for remote learning. On December 23, 2020, UNICEF provided 700,000 masks to be distributed in time for schools to reopen on January 4, 2021. Improved access to sanitation is an ongoing issue, and due to the pandemic, the need for sanitation is of crucial importance. UNICEF foresaw the issue and provided handwashing facilities to hundred of schools.

ACAKORO

ACAKORO is a community-based organization, supported by UNICEF, that uses football as a tool for development. ACAKORO works with the community of the Korogocho slum and has been tutoring vulnerable children during COVID-19 so that they can continue their learning. UNICEF is also supporting the government and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) with remote learning and getting schools ready to reopen safely.

The Kenya Jua Kali Voucher Programme

The Kenya Jua Kali Voucher Programme, implemented between 1997 and 2001, was a revolutionary comprehensive policy designed to provide vulnerable youth with vouchers to pay for training courses. A similar modern-day strategy can be put in place in order to address the lack of access to essential education in Kenya. Providing equal access to education for all children in Kenya is essential to lift people out of poverty.

Organizations such as UNICEF and ACAKORO are addressing education-related disparities amid the pandemic, thereby addressing overall poverty in the nation.

– Hannah Brock
Photo: Flickr

How the Wawa Laptop Project is Helping Peru's Remote EducationAs the COVID-19 pandemic keeps schools in many countries closed and kids at home, it also highlights the inequality of education worldwide. The quality of education for children in Peru, a nation with one of the highest virus mortality rates, is based largely on the wealth of the family. This disparity in opportunity will only grow larger with remote schooling, where more of the burden is put on the parents and home to provide for the students. For families who cannot afford personal tutors or often-expensive education technology and the internet, they currently have no access to quality education for their children. Many organizations and companies in Latin America have been able to assist in this burden, creating new ways to provide education to poor students. School broadcasts on television and affordable curriculum education have been highly-praised, but some companies have been trying to make the technology itself more attainable for students. The Wawa Laptop Project is one example of this, creating laptops out of recycled materials and forming an initiative to donate laptops to Peruvian students in need.

Unequal Education in Peru

According to a UNICEF study, nearly 463 students across the world are without access to proper education, as well as television, internet or additional services. This leaves students out entirely, with no access to any form of education. This issue is impacting children in Peru, where children are allotted only one hour outside of the home a day.

Throughout Latin America, it is reported that only an average of 67% of the population has access to the internet, with that number closer to 10% in the poorest nations. In Peru, around one in three homes have access to a computer, meaning that a majority of the population is left without easy access to the internet. The harsh reality of this is that, at least for impoverished children in Peru, remote learning is simply impossible as it currently exists.

The government of Peru has become involved, ensuring that class lessons will be available on television broadcast until 2021, but this would still leave out a portion of the population with access to education. This inability to accommodate all students seems to mean that, until the schools can safely reopen, impoverished children will be left behind from their more wealthy classmates.

Wawa Laptops and Eco-friendly Tech Amid COVID-19

Wawa Laptops were created a year ago as an attempt to provide technology to the most vulnerable children in Peru. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative shifted to responding to the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in impoverished regions. Solar-powered and running on Linux operating systems, the laptops are also constructed using recycled materials, meaning that they are far more affordable for impoverished families. The laptops are said to last as long as 15 years, and before the outbreak, the Wawa Laptops had been successfully given to hundreds of Peruvian children in need.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, Wawa Laptops seem to be an affordable solution to some of the issues many children in Peru are facing. As a response, the company has launched the “Donate a Wawa Laptop, Educate a child” campaign, in which people can donate a laptop to a child in need. This donation will allow children who would otherwise be left out of a year of school to keep up with their fellow students. While not a total solution to the education divide in the country, the Wawa Laptop Project provides impoverished Peruvian children with quality education.

While students in Peru as well as the rest of the developing world are sure to face continued struggles in this year of remote learning, organizations like Wawa Laptop Project are supporting the most vulnerable young people. Access to technology and opportunity will be one of the main determinators for schooling in the COVID-19 age. With the support and ongoing donations, Wawa Laptops will allow children in Peru to stay focused on school amid the unprecedented international crisis.

– Matthew McKee
Photo: Flickr

Remote-Learning
Remote learning, or the process of acquiring knowledge and skills through a program accessible through mobile or computer technologies, has the ability to expand access to education throughout the developing world.

Provided in the form of online lectures, quizzes and projects, online course material may allow large numbers of students worldwide to gain access to a world-class education that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

The number of students not enrolled in school has been rising in recent years, often due to poverty, conflict or financial issues. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 124 million children between the ages of six and 15 were not enrolled in school as of 2013, up from 122 million in 2011. One out of every 11 primary-school-age children continues to be denied the right to education across the globe.

According to the Gates Foundation’s 2015 annual letter, remote learning will revolutionize education for people around the world by 2030 by giving citizens in impoverished areas educational opportunities that were previously inaccessible.

“Before a child even starts primary school, she will be able to use her mom’s smartphone to learn her numbers and letters, giving her a big head start,” Bill Gates said in the letter. “She will collaborate with teachers and other students in a much richer way. If she is learning a new language, she’ll be able to speak out loud and the software will give her feedback on her pronunciation.”

Educational access has always been a significant issue in developing and poverty-stricken areas. Students are limited when it comes to the classes and materials offered at the schools in their own communities. Digital education gives students within these developing or conflict-marred regions the ability to access educational materials.

In areas without significant funding for building heavy infrastructure, children would still be able to access education without traveling hours to schools in nearby communities. A shift to digital materials for use in learning courses also saves a significant amount of money for communities that may be struggling to provide educational materials such as textbooks.

Due to the lowering cost of mobile phones and tablets with online connectivity, technology is connecting students with teachers like never before. While many areas still lack service, Internet access and communications technologies have rapidly been emerging and expanding in developing nations over the last several years. Google Inc. is currently planning to spend more than $1 billion to bring service to these communities and expand Internet access to unwired regions of the globe via small, high-capacity satellites orbiting the earth, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The challenge of keeping children in school after primary school is tremendous, as the costs associated with secondary schooling are much higher, which is often difficult for families with lower income levels to afford. Also, secondary schooling facilities are often located farther away from rural communities, making transportation a challenge. Though online classes will never be able to replace a teacher, the technology may give children the ability to continue their education after primary school, while also pursuing other commitments.

Online education also has the ability to impart literacy skills and market-worthy training to adults who missed out on formal schooling opportunities when they were younger. It allows these individuals to pursue their education in their spare time by fitting in learning after they work a day job, provide for their families or while they are in between jobs or unemployed.

One organization, Lynda.com, an online education site providing e-learning platforms to more than two million subscribers worldwide, currently provides access to over 80,000 instructional videos relating to job skills in areas such as retail, construction and graphic design.

Many concerns remain about the challenges mobile education may pose. The cost of electricity in developing areas, the cost of network use, and the constant risk of theft or damage to the devices the children use are all threats to the sustainability of remote learning. Though these challenges in the current implementation of online education in these communities persist, technological advancement in the field continues to progress.

Lauren Lewis

Sources: Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Gates Notes, The Verge, The Wall Street Journal, UNESCO 1, UNESCO 2
Photo: Google Images