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Eight Facts About Education in Somalia
The Somali Democratic Republic, commonly known as Somalia, is located in northeast Africa. It currently has a population of 14.3 million people. Of that population, many young Somalians have struggled to receive a proper education, even at the primary level. However, awareness and assistance are becoming more widespread. Many are helping Somalian children gain access to better educational opportunities to ensure a better quality of life. Listed below are eight facts about education in Somalia. By getting to know the current status of Somalian education and its origins, the country can make more progress to improve the educational climate for Somalian children.

8 Facts About Education in Somalia

  1. The educational system in Somalia consists of five phases: primary (grades one to four), middle (grades five to eight), secondary (grades nine to 12), technical (ages 15 to 18) and tertiary (higher education).
  2. A primary cause of the lack of educational resources in Somalia is due to the civil war that broke out in 1991. This directly impacted the educational system in the country, leaving many students displaced from the classroom. Further, many teachers are uncertified for their job, even over two decades later.
  3. Historically, Somali people have learned by word rather than written language. For many years, the Somali language had no script. Eventually, the adoption and acceptance of the Latin script occurred in Jan. 1972, following the recommendation.
  4. Compared to other countries, Somalia has one of the lowest enrollment rates of primary school students. Elementary school-aged children make up roughly 1.5 million of Somalia’s population. However, only 42 percent attend school.
  5. Funding for primary education efforts is in progress. On October 11, 2019, the United States Agency for International Development announced that $50 million will be going towards reforming and improving the Somalian education system. USAID will create a five-year program to “increase access to quality education and support accelerated learning for out-of-school children and youth who have been persistently left behind,” states the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia.
  6. Since Aug. 2019, as many as two million new textbooks have been printed in efforts toward the new Bar Ama Baro system (meaning Teach and Learn in Somalian). These new books cover topics that are relevant to Somalian life and culture, such as the English and Arabic languages, mathematics, Islamic studies and science.
  7. Somalia’s education funding from foreign powers does not only rely on the United States. Khaled Al-Jarallah of The Deputy Foreign Minister of Kuwait, located in western Asia, also recently announced that he will be holding a conference to help fund the new Somalian education system.
  8. Somalian teachers have responded positively to the implementation of the new system. Teacher, Abdulkadir Mohamed Sheikh, has praised the new curriculum for its ability to be centered around Somalian religion and culture.

These eight facts about education in Somalia show that U.S. international powers and the Somalian government are making substantial efforts for the current and future generations of Somalian children. Providing them with better education will assist in reducing the existing level of poverty in the country. Additionally, it will also allow the Somalian people to achieve and enjoy a higher quality of life.

– A. O’Shea
Photo: Flickr

Mobile Software Platforms in Developing Countries  The creation of mobile phones is not only beneficial for everyday usage but also for the livelihood of communities in developing countries. As mobile phones continue to advance, the creation of software applications that are easily accessible can make a difference in the developing world. Whether it be a mobile banking platform, a market information system or an EMS service for desolate regions in developing countries, these types of mobile software are undoubtedly effective in helping those they serve.

3 Mobile Software Platforms in Developing Countries

  1. M-Pesa: In 2007, Kenya launched the mobile banking platform, M-Pesa, with the help of a one million pound grant from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. M-Pesa is a money transfer service dedicated to allowing its users to transfer money to relatives in other locations through text, pay for everyday necessities and take out and repay loans. This software plays a significant role in reducing poverty. Studies show that there was a “6 percent increase in per capita consumption, enough to push 64 (or roughly 4 percent) of the sampled households above poverty levels.” Often referred to mobile money, this software gives the opportunity to separate cash and manage a source of income, especially for women. Considering most of the households are male-headed, women who are secondary income earners are unable to save adequately since most of the cash is used by the house. But M-Pesa creates financial independence and allows women to start their own businesses, bringing more money into families.
  2. MISTOWA: Market Information Systems and Traders Organizations in West Africa, MISTOWA for short, is an application created to provide statistics on agriculture to connect small farmers in remote areas with potential buyers at a fair market price. Created by the United States Agency for International Development and launched in March 2005, MISTOWA uses a web platform called TradeNet where buyers and sellers can upload and send agriculture information through text and SMS subscriptions. MISTOWA is partnered with a company named Esko in Nairobi, Ghana where rural farmers are sent price information, weather alerts and crop advice. After launching this mobile software, there was a 9 percent increase in profit for the farmers who used the software.
  3. Beacon: In rural areas, such as the countryside of the Dominican Republic, many citizens are unable to dial 9-1-1 for a medical emergency due to emergency services being too far away. Trek Medics International, in partnership with Google and Cardinal Health, created a lifesaving software program called Beacon. Through this mobile software, residents in the Dominican Republic can contact the nearest firehouse station where an alert will be sent via Beacon to a volunteer dispatcher who is first-aid trained. This volunteer travels to these regions on inexpensive motorcycles and transports the injured person to the nearest hospital.

Thanks to the masterminds behind mobile software, communities in developing countries are beginning to make use of the technology that is available to them through their mobile phones. Although these mobile software platforms in developing countries don’t tackle every issue, it is just the beginning of how advanced technology can make an impact.

– Jessica Curney
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About USAIDThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world’s premier development organization. Founded in 1961, the agency has overseen decades of world economic growth and an unprecedented reduction in global poverty.

 

10 Important Facts About USAID:

 

  1. USAID is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government and operates subject to the guidance of the President, the Secretary of State and the National Security Council.
  2. USAID is the largest provider of food assistance in the world.
  3. USAID’s annual budget of $27 billion is larger than the national spending of 165 countries.
  4. Intervention by USAID is always subject to careful analysis to prevent disruption of local agricultural production, markets and adverse effects on recipient nation currencies.
  5. USAID’s budget, spending and programs are subject to oversight and auditing by the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, and the Government Accountability Office under the legislative branch. All of its budget and oversight documents are public record.
  6. USAID has made steady improvement in recent years in rankings by the International Aid Transparency Initiative, primarily due to better data management and increased technology modernization.
  7. As these 10 facts about USAID demonstrate, the organization’s mission involves much more than direct crisis aid. Besides food and disaster relief, USAID has major directives in health, human rights and governance, education, economic growth, agriculture and food security and gender equality.
  8. A significant number of countries have gone from recipients of USAID programs to become donor nations themselves. The Republic of Korea and Brazil are two prime examples.
  9. USAID’s spending accounts for less than one-half of one percent of the U.S. federal budget.
  10. After decades of change, in 2013 USAID launched a new mission statement for the 21st century built on two pillars: ending extreme poverty, and promoting democratic, resilient societies.

As a key pillar in development efforts worldwide, USAID is central to the history of this century, as the world stands on the cusp of some of its greatest humanitarian achievements while, at the same time, facing unprecedented ecological challenges. USAID is a leader and a massively experienced player in facing the world’s biggest problems. Strategies to improve aid and development around the world and to sustain progress into the future rely on these facts about USAID.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

The Vietnam Green Growth Strategy Promises Sustainable Growth
In the face of increasing pressure on natural resources, Vietnam has demonstrated great commitment to sustainable growth and development. Launched in September 2012, the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy aims to restructure economic efficiency, cope with climate change and reduce poverty within the country.

Vietnam has experienced rapid growth in recent years, but this progress has also put pressure on the country’s natural resources. Poverty in Vietnam declined from 49.2 percent in 1993 to 3.2 percent in 2012.

As unfortunate side effects of this achievement, air pollution levels rose in major cities, rivers became more polluted, greenhouse gas emissions almost tripled between 2000 and 2010, and climate-related disasters began to devastate rural and coastal regions.

In response to increasing strains on the environment, the government adopted the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy in 2012, with the ultimate goal of creating a more sustainable footing for the national economy while further reducing poverty.

The Green Growth Strategy seeks to accomplish its goals largely by encouraging businesses to move towards greener practices and help new businesses develop along green lines. Focusing on business practice reform paves a strong foundation for lasting growth, as “green investment is good investment,” according to Pratibha Mehta, UNDP resident representative.

If successful, the strategy would reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by 8-10 percent as compared to the 2010 levels, reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 1.5 percent per year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy activities by 10-20 percent as compared to standard current rates, and promote green lifestyles and sustainable consumption among Vietnamese citizens.

The World Bank is supporting Vietnam’s progress through investments that steer the energy sector towards lower carbon options. By focusing on restructuring the economy and business practices, Vietnam is showing a strong effort to create large-scale and lasting green growth.

The Vietnam Green Growth Strategy is further supported by a partnership between Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Program. This partnership assembled a supplemental framework that accelerates Vietnam’s ability to implement green growth policies. The Strengthening Capacity and Institutional Reform for Green Growth and Sustainable Development in Vietnam project supports capacity building and encourages policy reform along Green Growth lines.

Thus far, five ministries and almost 30 localities in Vietnam have implemented green growth strategies. The steps taken include resource mobilization, institutional and policy improvement, capacity enhancement, and technology improvement.

The Vietnam Green Growth Strategy is guiding both rural and urban development toward substantial and sustainable growth. By integrating green growth with national policies, the initiative is positioning Vietnam to achieve the sustainable development goals.

McKenna Lux

Photo: Flickr

Basa Pilipinas: Childhood Literacy in the Philippines
The United States Agency for International Development and the Philippines Department of Education collaborated over the last three years to improve childhood literacy in the Philippines through a program called Basa Pilipinas, or “Read Philippines.” Basa Pilipinas aims to enhance reading skills in English, Filipino and other mother tongues for one million children in grades one through three. Begun in January 2013, the $39.7 million program is scheduled to conclude on Dec. 31 of this year.

On Oct. 26, 2016, Trey Hicks of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee visited several Cebu elementary schools to reiterate a commitment to childhood literacy in the Philippines. Hicks led reading activities for the children and was joined by USAID Office of Education Chief Brian Levey, who remarked: “Education…set[s children] on a path towards making informed and healthy decisions and taking advantage of limitless economic opportunities.” As Basa Pilipinas draws toward a conclusion, its effects on children and education will continue to evince themselves.

Operating at the classroom level, Basa Pilipinas expands access to reading materials. Roughly 8 million copies of teaching and learning materials, including teacher’s guides and textbooks in both English and local dialects, were distributed throughout the Philippines in the last three years.

Likewise, Basa works to improve reading delivery systems. The program assists the Philippines Department of Education in setting valid early grade reading standards and regulating teacher training in the school systems. Providing hands-on professional development to teachers ensures newly established reading standards are met. Modifications such as these at the systemic level establish achievable literacy goals for students and teachers alike.

Teacher training in literacy instruction is perhaps most crucial to the goals set forth through Basa Pilipinas. Almost 13,000 teachers received training on effective reading instruction, and nearly 3,500 Department of Education supervisors and school heads strategized teacher training support and Learning Action Cells facilitation. LACs are a “group-based intervention for improving teaching practice.” Through these programs “colleagues study content and pedagogies together, plan lessons collaboratively, and conduct action research as a group.” LACs are sustainable, low-cost ways to afford ongoing teacher development.

Basa Pilipinas has directly benefitted more than 1.6 million students, and 2 million more have been indirectly influenced. Evaluations of Basa Pilipinas in 2015 revealed the increased fluency of students by an additional nine words per minute as well as a 23 percent advancement in reading comprehension. And because most of the education reforms Basa imposed were on the systemic and teacher-training level, these dramatic improvements should only be the beginning of the progress in childhood literacy in the Philippines.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

the assessing progress in haiti
Almost five years after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the United States Congress is using the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2014 to evaluate how U.S. funds are being used in reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

1. The legislation noted that conditions have not improved enough.

Although more than 90 percent of displaced people have been able to leave camps, around 171,974 people still remain in camps. On top of that, corruption is widespread, the business climate is not ideal, unemployment is high and the government is weak.

2. Aid has been slow to materialize.

The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, has distributed only 31 percent of its reconstruction funds pledged to Haiti. The vision of thousands of new homes has not happened, which has forced earthquake victims to return to existing housing through a rental subsidy program. The June 2013 report by the GAO saw that goals were not being met and projects were very far behind.

3. The act gives Congress the power of monitoring assistance to Haiti.

The act allows Congress to supervise the $3.6 billion that has gone to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act passed in the Senate 15 days earlier and it is awaiting President Obama’s signature to be signed into law.

4. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2014 entails the U.S. Secretary of State submitting an annual report to Congress.

The legislation requires the U.S. Secretary of State to submit an annual report on the condition of development projects and earthquake recovery in Haiti, no later than December 31 each year, through December 31, 2017.

5. The bill was sponsored by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Nelson, like many others, has expressed fear about the transparency in United States foreign aid, and the slow distribution of aid in Haiti. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act received bipartisan support and the House passed it with no objection.

6. The legislation was applauded by several groups.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act has received support from many groups such as the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), which provides financial aid to grassroots organizations and agencies in Haiti.

7. The act states that certain promises are to be met by Haiti’s government.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act specifically addresses “transparency, a market economy, rule of law, and democracy.” The bill emphasizes that the situation in Haiti does not depict improved conditions and that the country is far behind in reconstruction.

“In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, our government laudably committed a significant amount of aid to help Haiti rebuild, but a lack of transparency made it difficult to understand how U.S. government funds were being used and if recovery efforts were making progress and were being measured,” stated the president of American Jewish World Service, Ruth Messinger. She believes that the “legislation embodies a new commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance.”

Read more facts about the Haiti Earthquake.

– Colleen Moore

Sources: The Sentinel, McClatchy DC News
Photo: Washington Memo

Illiterate_Generation
As recently indicated by a global monitoring report on education, there are 250 million illiterate children in the world, 130 million of them at the primary school level. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has identified the development impacts on the illiterate generation and has made plans to lead efforts in contributing to universal education.

Human capital is at the foundation of improving the third world. However, providing access to the resources necessary for improving it is a difficult task for nations with weak economies to address.

In addition to the generation of millions of illiterate children, there are also 57 million primary school-aged children that do not have the opportunity to receive an education. Moreover, the areas that contain rampant illiteracy and a lack of educational resources will continue to face problems in the future, thus perpetuating their process of development.

In conjunction with achieving United Nations Millennium Development Goals of alleviating the international issues along the likes of climate change, hunger, poverty and illiteracy, the U.S. has joined the U.N. Global Education First Initiative. The USAID has already targeted Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and the Philippines for areas to implement programs that would supplement access to quality education.

The USAID has sponsored initiatives to improve literacy rates by establishing reading programs and introducing training programs for teachers as well. Additionally, the USAID has made efforts to improve educational infrastructure in multiple areas. For instance, it has done so by strengthening communication and feedback between teachers and the Department of Education administrators.

Assuming the role of an international leader, the U.S. is mobilizing resources through USAID to promote education as an investment. Its goals are well aligned with the U.N. Millennium Development goals to improve the third world; investment in human capital is a practice that results in a win for everyone.

Jugal Patel

Sources: DIPNOTE, DIPNOTE U.S. Department of the State Official Blog
Photo: RT

Development_in_Afghanistan
With the intention of improving and stabilizing Afghanistan’s economy following the withdrawal of American and international forces, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) revealed a plan to provide almost $300 million in assistance aid on January 10, 2014. The plan addresses development in Afghanistan across the agricultural, trade and education sectors and includes provisions to ensure the proper allocation of funds.

Tumultuous tension plagues the U.S.-Afghan relationship, yet Larry Sampler, head of USAID programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, argues that the plan’s programs are the best chance for Afghanistan to move ahead with an economically-founded faith in the future.

Of the nearly $300 million for development in Afghanistan, $125 million over a five-year period will provide Afghan farmers access to the research and technology necessary for superior crop yields and market expansion. In the same five-year time span,  $92 million partnered with three U.S. universities will serve as means to a technical training education program in fields particularly desired by Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Additionally, $77 million will be directed over four years to involving Afghanistan in the World Trade Organization through a better business environment that will attract increased foreign investment. Sampler emphasizes his goal for Afghanistan to enter on a path of respect and equality, and of economic stability and self-sustaining democracy. He hopes for the country to reach this goal within 10 years and addresses the need for cooperation within Afghanistan.

In January, the U.S. cut civilian aid for Afghanistan in half, citing concerns about fraud, incorrect allotment and corruption within Hamid Karzai’s regime. In the face of the negative light this has cast on the USAID plan, Sampler plans to provide an outline of monitoring techniques posited in collaboration with each aid program to avoid corruption. Sampler does, however, give credence to the obstacle of the Afghan government.

As U.S. forces withdraw from the country, USAID will rely more and more on Afghan troops to provide the environment previously afforded to the agency’s staff. Further complicating the issue, Karzai has repeatedly refused to sign a security pact that would allow for a small portion of U.S. troops to remain and assist in development. Without this helping hand, the fate of the USAID plan will be dependent on cooperation with the Afghan government sooner than expected.

According to U.S. officials these new initiatives will not be affected by January’s budget cut, as the money can be set aside and allocated accordingly over the four-year or five-year time span. Despite the many hurdles USAID faces, the newly proposed plan presents a method for Afghanistan to reach its economic, educational and social potential.

– Jaclyn Stutz

Sources: Bloomberg, NPR, Reuters, New York Times
Photo: Politicker