Promoting quality education for all.




Jeremy Hobbs: If Every Child Could go to School

September 13, 2010

What would the world look like if every child could go to school?

Imagine a world where new HIV infections are a rarity. Where children have clean water and adequate food. New mothers survive childbirth and go on to raise the next generation, and vulnerable communities cope with climate-related disasters and economic shocks. The poorest countries receive $80 billion each year for development, and parents earn enough to feed their families, build assets and save for the future.

Although it seems a pipe dream, this vision is possible through education.  If every child could go to school, our world would be a dramatically changed place. In fact, the second Millennium Development Goal, universal primary education, is the key to achieving all of the MDGs.

The evidence shows that basic education is one of the most cost-effective development interventions and that its impact extends well beyond transforming the lives of individual children. It leads to measurable improvements in economic growth, HIV prevention, nutrition, child and maternal health, and conflict prevention.  Consider:

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We need Global Fund for Education

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.

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Education: The Best Way to Wage War on Terror

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.

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