We need Global Fund for Education
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September 15, 2010
Source: Deseret News
By Vanessa Johnson
This past spring, I had the rare opportunity to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, with Dr. Scott Leckman, another Utah native, for the Africa and Middle East Regional Microcredit Summit. The meeting was part of an ongoing movement to bring small loans to poor entrepreneurs throughout the world so they can start a business that can lift their families out of poverty. While in Kenya, we visited Jamii Bora, a microfinance organization working in Kenya. They have helped thousands of families lift themselves out of poverty.
Jami Bora is centered in the Kibera section of Nairobi. Kibera is the largest slum in Africa. I saw children running around with no shoes over mounds of garbage and tin shacks for homes. The deeper into the slum we went, the stronger the smell of human and animal waste became. I remember two little boys in particular. Their clothes were tattered, and they were covered in dust. Garbage was piled all around them. Shoeless, they walked beside what looked like a stream. They had sticks and were poking at the plastic bottles gathered in this small bed of water. Watching them, I hoped that there was a safe water sources somewhere in the slum. However, after much searching, I did not see any water sources other than this putrid little stream.
Despite these conditions, my hopes began to rise when I saw a large school within the slum. I thought to myself, that regardless of income, these children at least had access to a school. And with this education comes the hope that they can one day leave Kibera and create a better life for themselves and their families.
Believe it or not, the children of Kenya are relatively lucky compared to those living in many poor nations in Africa, where school fees pose an extreme barrier for children living in poverty. Kenya eliminated such fees in 2003, and in the weeks following the announcement, 1.3 million additional children showed up to school. The conditions may not be ideal with overcrowded classrooms, lack of supplies and few teachers, but the optimism is spreading to other countries where school fees are being lifted and access to education has become more attainable.
Still, an estimated 72 million children do not have access to school. And even in nations where fees have been lifted, the quality of education is extremely low. To break the cycle of poverty and help these nations reach the first rung of the ladder of economic opportunity, they need resources to build new classrooms, train more teachers, and buy more books.
That's why the world needs a Global Fund for Education that can distribute the resources necessary to give every child a quality education. President Barack Obama proposed such a fund during his campaign two years ago, but we've heard little about it since then. That's disappointing, because a similar mechanism — the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (GFATM) — has enjoyed tremendous success since its inception, saving 5.7 million lives from three of the world's deadliest diseases. Modeled after the GFATM, a Global Fund for Education could enjoy similar success and help achieve the Millennium Development Goal of providing universal access to education for all children by 2015.
Some might say that creating a Global Fund for Education would be costly, and we need to spend our money elsewhere. The reality, however, is that the U.S. spends little more than 1 percent of its budget on all foreign aid. Money spent on education is an investment that will pay off big by building more stable societies and preventing nations from becoming the kind of failed states where we are compelled to intervene militarily.
Although millions of children remain out of school, I feel hopeful that one day soon they will all have access to an education, helping to make this world a safer and better place.
Vanessa Johnson is a recent University of Utah graduate in International Studies and group leader of the local RESULTS chapter.
Education: The Best Way to Wage War on Terror
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August 5, 2010
Source: The Alexandria Times
By Jennifer Gillyard
To the editor:
Globally there are more than 72 million children ages 5 to 11 not in school and more than 250,000 youth engaged in conflict, some of which are recruited into violent extremist groups as early as 10 years old. In a 2004 report by United States Agency for International Development on youth in conflict, researchers found that “when young people are uprooted, jobless, intolerant, alienated, and with few opportunities for positive engagement, they represent a ready pool of recruits for groups seeking to mobilize violence.”
As a local social worker and life skills specialist, I have seen how the lack of a quality education leads to a hopeless worldview, lack of opportunities and often incites a violent lifestyle. I have taught children who fled their country for lack of educational opportunities and fear of becoming influenced by violent extremist groups. And as a resident of Alexandria and a citizen of this country, which has been affected by acts of terrorism, I believe in the security and innate value of each human being. Therefore, offering a better quality education in a conflict-free environment extends to our global partners.
The common denominator between youth who are forced into conflict and those who voluntarily join extremist groups is a lack of educational and economic opportunities, which in return changes an individual’s worldview from one of hope to despair. Research shows that an individual’s income level does not solely dictate whether they will join an extremist group; however, lack of a quality education coupled with extreme poverty is fertile ground for violence and exploitation.
In the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of Africa youth can receive a free education at unregistered madrasahs, some of which teach an extreme worldview of justice by violence. In Sub-Saharan Africa, not only can youth not afford an education, but when many return from being forced into conflict they are often denied the opportunity of continuing their education, which causes them to return to conflict and violence for survival. A report by Save the Children shows that every year of schooling a male receives decreases his chances of engaging in violent conflict by 20 percent. So what should our response be towards the lack of quality education for children in conflict?
Globally, a better quality education would include the elimination of school fees and establishing a community-based curriculum that includes teaching a worldview fostering respect and dignity, life skills, literacy and numeracy skills as well as entrepreneurship. This can be accomplished by supporting the Education for All Act of 2010 (H.R. 5117) that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. Alexandria’s congressman, Rep. Jim Moran, an astute decision maker and champion of fighting crime with education reform, has co-sponsored this act and I encourage other representatives to follow his lead. By passing this act, America can become a global example of choosing education to nurture world peace.
All the World’s Children Need Education
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June 23, 2010
Source: Hartford Courant
By Erin DeRoy
The World Cup, including the ringing of the vuvuzela horns in our ears, is here. And, off the playing fields of South Africa, organizers of the the 2010 FIFA World Cup are trying to use the attention and energy their event has generated to help put children in school. They have joined the 1GOAL initiative, a critical global campaign to make sure all of the world's children get an education.
The idea is to bring together the influence of soccer players and fans, as well as charities and organizations, to call on world leaders to make education a reality for all children by 2015.
A bill before Congress, The Education for All Act of 2010, would add a significant boost to this international campaign. The legislation urges the United States to provide the resources and leadership needed to ensure a successful international effort in providing all children with a basic quality education. I urge my congressman, Rep. John Larson, D-East Hartford — a man who understands the power and potential of education — to co-sponsor this important legislation.
I am an avid volunteer and advocate for children, and I know we all have an impact on educating our world's children. Two summers ago, I traveled to Ecuador and worked in an underprivileged and impoverished community. As a volunteer, I focused on the betterment of children through education — educating some children who had never been to school.
The tremendous effort each child made to attend class was powerful evidence that they valued education and wanted to learn — regardless of the distance to school, exhaustion due to malnutrition or poor school quality. Sadly, children's longing will not always give them the education they dream of receiving. Children need resources, support and, this year, implementation of the Education for All Act to get the assistance they need to pursue their dream of learning.
Globally, there are 72 million children between the ages 5 and 11 who are not in school. These children are faced with a vast array of unfortunate obstacles that inhibit their ability to receive a quality education. Nevertheless, every child needs and deserves an education to see a brighter future for themselves and their families. All villages, communities and countries need educated citizens to ensure a prosperous, healthy and vibrant future.
Education is one of the best ways of helping children grow up safe, healthy and prepared to lift their communities out of poverty. A quality education expands employment opportunities and gives people a chance to earn higher wages. Education, particularly for girls, also leads to better health outcomes for children, adults and families. In addition, education can lower the risk of conflict for a country, which creates a safer world for us all.
In the words of 1GOAL's co-chairman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, "Education is the engine through which development can be powered, both for the individual in opening up new opportunities as well as for countries seeking to move out of the fierce grip of poverty. This year's World Cup in South Africa provides a platform to deliver a lasting legacy that will last for generations."
Erin DeRoy, 21 of Cromwell, is a senior, majoring in international affairs at the George Washington University and is an intern at Global Action for Children in Washington.