A Generation without Education

A Generation without Education

Can we live up to the promise of an education for all the children of world? Lisa Advani explores the choice between increasing spending on education in emergencies or turning a blind eye to a generation without education.

Last year governments around the world made a significant promise to all the world’s children. In adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they pledged that by 2030 all girls and boys would complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education. However, the world is on course to fall short of achieving that goal.

Rising numbers of emergencies and protracted crises around the world are one of the biggest challenges to ratifying that goal. In 2015, nearly 75 million children and young persons (3-18 years old) across 35 crisis-affected countries had their education disrupted.  Nearly one in three children out of school today is living in a crisis-affected country. For the youngest children, conflict and crisis means schooling never begins. For others, their education is permanently interrupted. With each successive year of education lost, the human, social and economic costs rise exponentially.

Hdptcar / Creative Commons License
Hdptcar / Creative Commons License

Though the number of children and young persons affected by emergencies or crisis is reaching an all-time high, financing for education in emergencies is insufficient. The current aid architecture is under-resourced and thus unable to support countries in fulfilling the right to education for millions of crisis-affected children. In 2015, less than 2% of humanitarian funding has been allocated to education. Governments need an extra $8.5 million a year to close this considerable funding gap.

A number of factors contribute to the interruption of education services during crises.  Despite being prioritized by children and their families, education in emergencies is not a priority consideration and often neglected in relief operations. In many of the cases where education is provided, there is a lack of coordination between the governments, humanitarian and development actors who all have different mandates.  In many places, there is inadequate capacity to provide education in emergencies. There are few teachers skilled in crisis response and international actors often provide short-term deployments due to funding uncertainties.

Recently there has been growing interest from new and established donors to explore joint and innovative mechanisms to finance education in crisis, including in the work of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

The Education Cannot Wait Fund was launched by Gordon Brown, U.N Special Envoy for Global Education at the World Humanitarian Summit in May this year, to address the global education crisis. The fund aims to provide education to the 75 million children worldwide that are now living in conflict zones and fragile states.

The Open University/Creative Commons License
The Open University/Creative Commons License

The fund takes a collaborative approach in joining up humanitarian and private sector efforts, and has drawn together the United Nations, national governments, international and local nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector. By bringing together public and private partners, the fund aims to leverage additional finance and catalyse new approaches to funding and innovation to deliver education in emergencies and protracted crises.

The goal is for the initiative to reach full funding of $4 billion within five years, starting with a $150 million goal in 2016. So far, $90 million has been pledged for the first year.

The Education Cannot Wait Fund will provide flexible and lengthy grants to eligible crises that include:

  • Natural disasters that trigger formal humanitarian system responses
  • Protracted crises that pose a risk to access to education
  • Crises with large-scale displacement with affected host populations
  • Crises that occur in low-income countries, as well as those in middle-income countries that have limited resource for financing and appropriate response

Comprised of an Acceleration Facility, focused on investing in existing actors to improve education response, and a Breakthrough Fund, which will support both rapid and multi-year country level engagement, the Fund has five main functions:

  • Inspire political commitment
  • Joint planning and response
  • Generate and disburse new funding
  • Strengthen capacity
  • Improve accountability

The world faces a choice, one that must be made collectively: Should we spend more now on education in emergencies, or pay the price of a generation without education who will someday be inadequately equipped to rebuild their shattered societies? It is difficult to think of an outcome further removed from the SDG promise of free, equitable and quality education made to all the world’s children.

 


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

What Happens When a For-Profit School is No Longer Profitable?

What Happens When a For-Profit School is No Longer Profitable?

In recent years, the schooling system in developing countries has seen a surge in for-profit institutions. Here, Anja Nielsen questions whether profits should be a priority over something as invaluable as education for all.

Education as a Human Right is an endless pursuit – it can only be achieved if it is continually sought after and can never be satiated. With this recognition of education as something to which all individuals have a fundamental right comes a certainty of provision and purpose. Treating schools as platforms for the deliverance of this right of all children means their objective is never fulfilled; as long as there are children present, there is a purpose for the institution.

But what happens when the very nature of education is shifted, when a school is no longer a place where a child exercises their Human Rights and it ceases to be a place of learning, opportunity and inquiry? What happens when a school becomes a business, providing services to consumers on the basis of amassing profits and in a way that ultimately must satisfy a cost-effectiveness model?

United Nations Photo / Creative Commons License
United Nations Photo / Creative Commons License

Private schools have ‘mushroomed’ in recent years, and in some countries (such as Pakistan) now account for 40% of school enrollment. For-profit schools are a specific form of private actor in education that begs yet another, more vital, question: What happens when a school driven by profits, rather than by providing an education, ceases to be profitable?

The answer? It shuts down. Salima Namusobya, director of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), highlighted at a Human Rights Council side event in 2015 that this is already happening in Uganda. Private school owners decide that their business is no longer viable, and act in the way of any able businessperson; cut their losses and end the commercial endeavour. As a private, unregulated body this can happen at any time, in any place, to the detriment of a child’s access to education. With parents treated as consumers, they are expected to access the product of learning outcomes elsewhere, irrespective of the impact (socially, pedagogically, and logistically) this can have on the child.

Uganda is not alone in the trend of for-profit education. Something that has long been a staple of the elite classes has now trickled down to a model of schooling known as Low-Fee Private Schools, or LFPSs. Since the coining of this term in 2001 by Dr Prachi Srivastava, this model of education has been heralded by some as a way to deliver low-cost education to all members of society. The UK’s Department for International Development, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and educational giant Pearson join many other entrepreneurs, governments and charities in exploring the option of this model of education.

Hdptcar / Creative Commons License
Hdptcar / Creative Commons License

Aside from the initial dubiousness of charging for something that has been defined by both the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child as necessarily free (at least until the primary age), Dr Srivastava, among many other practitioners and academics, point out numerous other issues with LFPSs. Among them, affordability, quality and equality: for whom are these schools ‘low-cost’, what sort of education are the schools providing, and are the poorest households comfortably able to send all of their children to school? These are issues to be addressed elsewhere, as I return to the initial question: What happens when a school driven by profits, rather than by providing an education, ceases to be profitable?

When delivering on the right to education is the sole focus of a school, its mission, motivation and purpose are never at risk. As long as there are children, there are Human Rights to be preserved and ensured. For-profit schools must remain profitable in order to continue to be viable, putting the school and its students’ futures in the hands of markets, rather than rights. This is the precarious situation into which children, especially those at Low-Fee Private Schools, are placed. Why support models of education that endanger the sustainability of learning, when there is the clear alternative of public education, grounded in ensuring the basic rights of all people? The motivation of delivering a Human Right is meaningful in its insatiability; it is a never-ending fountain of purpose. One from which every school should draw meaning and purpose.

 

 


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

Improving the Quality of Education in Developing Countries

There is no denying that access to education in developing countries has improved and is continuing to improve. However, has this meant that the quality of education has been sacrificed in the process? Paxcely Marquez evaluates the international communities’ actions and her experience of working in Sub-Saharan Africa to answer this question.

Improving school attendance in developing countries isn’t a new topic. With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) having come to a close and the new Sustainable Development Goals now in place to be completed by 2030, the international community recognizes there is still much work to be done – especially in improving access to education for girls throughout the world. Despite increases in school enrolment for both primary and secondary education around the world, the focus towards the quality of education has not kept up with the focus on quantity.

In developing countries, the overall enrolment in primary education has reached 91 per cent, however 250 million of those children are not learning. This juxtaposition helps to illustrate the problems developing countries are facing with providing quality education to their students. Many students are still illiterate and innumerate; a problem that all actors involved need to respond to immediately. When looking at individual countries, the barriers to providing quality education are diversely ranged, however, a number of these barriers are common. Such barriers include: a lack of infrastructure, inability to pay school fees, underqualified teachers and other educational professionals, language and cultural barriers, and ineffective teaching methods. For the last two years of my professional life, these were realities I saw on a daily basis.

Living in a medium-size town in Cameroon’s Adamaoua region, my community and I had some luxuries other communities in our region did not, such as access to multiple primary and secondary educational institutions. Every day, I saw students going to schools that had few concrete classrooms. One school had only one concrete classroom, which was two kilometers away and only had a few makeshift classrooms located on the main campus. At the same time, many of those students were not able to pay their school fees and as a result their grades suffered. There were the few anomalous exceptions that worked full-time and had outstanding grades but those were the exceptions.

Most students in Cameroon are taught to learn information verbatim, meaning they literally copy and paste the information that is written on the board. At the same time, some teachers do not like their students questioning the information. This not only hinders the students’ ability to build their critical-thinking skills but also to actually understand the information, since most of the students’ first languages are not French, English, Spanish, or German. This is assuming the best case scenario, where the teacher arrives to class every day on-time and is trained to teach the subject. The results are that many students are not being taught to their full potential, making them susceptible to misinformation about many issues including extremism in their communities.

Every country has the ability to provide quality education to all students, but the methods to accomplish this goal vary between countries and between their regions.

DSCF1640

 

In Colombia, the government initiated their Rural Education Project (PER) in order to improve the efficiency and quality of education throughout rural Colombia. The program provided the, “funding, training, and material for the implementation of flexible education models designed to meet the specific needs of rural students.” The results were government tailored and supported specialized programs provided on a regional basis, which can improve the efficiency and quality of education. This helps to illustrate the bigger picture, it’s possible and needed for each country to implement programs that can lead to a holistic educational systems, which are also culturally appropriate. At the same time, using local partners are needed to implement and expand such programs. They can help diminish the linguistic and cultural barriers faced in any, but especially in exceptionally diverse countries.

Actors on an international scale are still very much needed to improve the quality of education. Organizations such as the Malala Fund, understand that improving the quality of education is not limited to governmental actors alone. Instead, they also focus and invest in local partners that can help provide additional resources to students.

However, before we move forward, we still need to tackle the daily barriers many students face. We need to abolish school fees for all primary and secondary students, we need to improve the quality of teachers’ trainings and resources, we need to create financially incentivized programs for teachers assigned to rural communities, and we need to improve school infrastructure, to name just a few of the many issues.

Improving the quality of education for every student is possible – we just need to keep pushing towards it.

 

 

 


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

The Baha’I community perseveres under an oppressive Iranian government.

The Baha’I community perseveres under an oppressive Iranian government.

Recently media coverage has highlighted the oppression of the Baha’I community under the Iranian government. Carlos Aguilar analyses this and discusses how the minority group is being coerced to provide its education through unconventional – yet necessary – means.  

The article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that “Everyone has the right to education. The Baha’i community not only recognizes education as a right but also as a duty, “Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone”. Maybe this is why the Iranian Government, signatory of the Declaration, decided to build up walls between Baha’is and education in Iran.

The Bahá’í faith is one of the youngest of the world’s religions. It was founded by Bahá’u’lláh in Iran in 1863, who according to them is the most recent Manifestation of God although not the last Messenger. There are about 6 million Bahá’ís in the world and they constitute Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority (approximately 300,000 members).

The Baha’i faith is based on certain ideas perhaps “inconvenient” or too progressive for the Iranian regime.  For example, they accept all religions have true and valid origins. The Baha’i strongly believe in the equality of rights for men and women, the importance of social and economic equality, and perhaps the most “objectionable” of all, the dissolution of the clergy and its replacement with “Spiritual Assemblies”. If analysed, one can understand the Iranian Government (extremely linked to the Shi’a clergy) continuous harassment and explain its reasons for trying to avoid Baha’is development, especially regarding their education.

Don Shall / Creative Commons License
Don Shall / Creative Commons License

 

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Baha’is have been systematically persecuted as a matter of government policy. During the first decade of this persecution, more than 200 Baha’is were killed (executed), hundreds were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs. Many lost other rights, including the access to education.

After the Islamic Revolution only those who identified themselves with one of the four religions – Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism – recognized by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, have the right to study.  Thousands of teachers and students have been barred from higher education being fired or expelled.

This is why in 1987, Baha’I teachers, students and general volunteers joined forces to create the BIHE (Baha’i Institute of Higher Education), an informal school – nearly clandestine – meant to provide their community what the Government denies them – education.

Since the beginning, the BIHE has faced difficulties. Authorities have sought to close down the institute (among other efforts). Many students and teachers have been subject to arrests, raids, confiscation of school equipment and persecution. Many of its “campuses” have been shut down. In 2011, seven teachers were sentenced for up to 5 years of prison for their involvement with the BIHE.

However, in what the New York Times called an “elaborate act of communal self-preservation”, the BIHE has still remained intact. Despite being forced to operate under the radar in discreet locations. Often using private houses as “unofficial campuses” and sending education material vía post.

The telecommunications explosion in the 1990s allowed academics from all over the world to offer their services as tutors through the Baha’i Affiliated Global Faculty (AGF), a growing international body of top notch professors holding PhD degrees who give their time and expertise to the service of BIHE. These volunteers work and reside in North America, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia and have been critical to the institutes development.

The BIHE, its volunteers in Iran and abroad, and the global supporters have led to many international universities recognising the BIHE degrees when graduates want to continue their studies elsewhere. This gives them the chance to go for a Masters or PhD degree in countries such as the United Kingdom.

The Baha’i situation has been flagged up by the United Nations. In March 2015, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, told the Human Rights Council that discrimination against minorities in Iran, including Baha’is, continues “unabated”.

The report says that “not a single recommendation that had been accepted by Iran with regards to the Iranian Baha’is has been implemented”, and that “the violations against them are now much more intense and severe”.

Although the Baha’i International Community and the UN have a close collaborative relationship, the Baha’i situation in Iran needs much more attention from the international community. The new Government led by President Rouhani is not substantially different from its predecessors regarding the Baha’is who still suffer the lack of many opportunities.

In 2014, the film To light a candle, a documentary by Maziar Bahari was released as part of the global campaign Education is not a crime. Both, the film and the campaign show the delicate presence of the Baha’i community in Iran and their fight against Government barriers not only to study but also to develop themselves.

Currently the BIHE continues growing with a staff size of 700 people, 37 programs (undergraduate and postgraduate) and growing number of partnerships with higher learning institutions from around the globe. However, their students, teachers and volunteers are still treated like criminals, when their only crime happens to be a peaceful fight for education.

Carlos Arturo Aguilar holds an MA in International Political Economy from the University of Sheffield. He is freelance researcher and writer. Carlos is particularly interested in security, migration, sustainable development, and education affairs.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

International Child Labour Rights 2015: Progress and Challenges

International Child Labour Rights 2015:  Progress and Challenges

On June 12, International Day Against Child Labour was observed under the theme “NO to Child Labour – YES to Quality Education.”  The International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it but what impact has it had? Vanessa Thevathasan investigates.

A new report released by the ILO suggests there are still around 20 to 30 percent of children in low-income countries who complete their schooling and enter the labour market by the age of 15.   This means that today, 168 million children are in child labour, with 120 million of them aged 5 to 14 and as many as five million children are in slavery-like conditions.

ILO global estimates that 58.6% of child labourers aged between 5 and 17 work in the agricultural sector; 6.9% work in domestic work; 7.2% work in the industrial sector including mining, manufacturing and construction, and 25.4% work in services including retail trade, restaurants and transport. Early school leavers are less likely to secure stable jobs and are at greater risk of remaining outside the world of work altogether.

©Henri Ismail/Creative Commons License
©Henri Ismail/Creative Commons License

In Ghana, one of the world’s top ten gold producers, children working in the gold mines are at risk of serious injury, health problems and death. Human Rights Watch has urged Ghana’s mining industry to commit to enforcement of the law to prevent children working in dangerous, unlicensed gold mines. Companies must exert control to ensure the gold they buy is clean from exploitation.

HRW has recommended cash transfer programmes, appropriate youth employment options, and measures to make free primary education a reality in a bid to address underlying causes of child labour. These recommendations are not just specific to Ghana, rather they apply to all countries where children are at risk in the mining industry.  However, the lack of ground-level regulation of mines and enforcement of any of these recommendations will mean that the cycle of exploitation and abuse will likely continue unabated.

In India, one of the worst forms of slavery is bond labour, in which children are forced to work alongside their family to pay back debt from burrowed loans. As a result, millions of India’s children are denied an education and remain trapped in the cycle of poverty. In an effort to enforce a complete ban on the employment of children, amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 was passed in May this year.

This legislation is groundbreaking for banning the employment of children in occupations including carpet weaving, soap manufacture, manufacture of explosives, and gem cutting. However, India remains only one of four to have not ratified the ILO international conventions on child labour, a critical problem given how India is a hotspot for child labour exploitation.

 

©Henri Ismail/Creative Commons License
©ILO in Asia and the Pacific/Creative Commons License

In Egypt, UNICEF reports that widespread poverty forces up to 15 percent of Egypt’s children into the workforce. As a result, the World Food Programme initiative of subsidising poor families to keep their children in school with 80 percent attendance has proven to be effective.  The value of the food items is designed to compensate for the wages a child would earn at work, giving families an incentive to keep children – especially girls – in school. WFP is using 60 million euro ($67.5 million) aid to target 100,000 children from 651 schools in the most deprived areas of Egypt

Particular attention should be given to the 47.5 million young people aged 15 to 17 in hazardous work and the special vulnerabilities of girls and young women around the world. Fairtrade International reports that girls in cocoa, sugar, cotton and tea-growing communities frequently suffer from sexual harassment. ILO Director-General Guy Ryder urges “National policies should be directed towards removing children and young people from hazardous jobs and removing the hazards in the workplace.”

Child labour is a global problem and not confined to lower-income countries. Beyond the regions of Asia, the Pacific and Saharan Africa that represent a large number of child labour practices, 12 million are in upper or middle-income countries. Data is harder to find in these countries since there is often not enough emphasis on child labour in high-income countries.

Ryder argues that keeping children in school and receiving a good education until at least the minimum age of employment, will determine the whole life of a child. It is the only way for a child to acquire the basic knowledge and skills needed for further learning, and for her or his future working life.” The rationale is that early interventions to get children out of child labour and into school as well as facilitating the transition from school to decent work opportunities for young people will prevent routes into child labour.

UNICEF reinforces this view: “Quality education gives children the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills. Offering free, but compulsory education of good quality is, therefore, key to ending child labour over and above eradicating poverty in developing countries.”  Free education is a panacea in many cases for children; since the catch 22 is that they are forced to work in order to pay for school fees, books, and uniforms which are not provided by the government for free.

As it stands, the international community will miss its targets towards the U.N. Millennium Development Goals on education, and the ILO goal to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2016. With the consolidation of the Sustainable Development Goals this September, governments, industry, development organisations, ethical certifiers and educational institutions must work together to produce the necessary law, policy and grassroots awareness to promote children’s rights.

Every effort must be made to protect against the exploitation of young people and promote their right to education, free from poverty and marginalisation.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

India Calling : Reversing brain drain

India Calling : Reversing brain drain

Studying abroad, as many Indian students choose to do, causes a whopping $17 billion loss in revenues every year in India. Here, Mridulya Narasimhan examines the idea of reverse brain drain,and particularity the incentives that are being used to entice Indians back to the country of their birth.

Over 153,000 students leave the country for higher education every year. This is because of grade inflation, 100% cut-off requirements for college admissions, reservation policy and lack of good quality education at home. However, having completed their studies, only 5.2% of these students choose to return home – the rest staying, working and raising a family in their new country.

Breaking the barrier – What is India doing about it?

The government, which has neglected brain drain as a cause for concern for far too long, has in the recent past taken both pre-emptive and retrospective actions to curb the impact of brain drain on India.

As announced by President Pranab Mukherjee, India’s 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) focuses on quality, affordability and accessibility of the higher education system. This can also be interpreted as an attempt to persuade students to stay in India for the purpose of pursuing higher education.

Narendra Modi, India’s current Prime Minister, who once considered the cause unimportant is now taking measures to reverse brain drain. Following China’s footsteps, the Indian government has approached various well-known NRI (non-resident Indian) scientists to place them in appropriate departments under the Ministry of Science and Technology. With Mr. Modi’s explicitly stated agenda of ‘reviving romance for science in India’, this is seen by many as the first step towards establishing a well-oiled system to control and perhaps reverse brain drain.

© Hartlepool College/Creative Commons License
© Hartlepool College/Creative Commons License

Modi has also sought to attract businesses the world over to invest and manufacture in India with a ‘Make in India’ campaign. This will create jobs and will potentially be followed by a much mooted ‘Think in India’ campaign.  These campaigns are designed to encourage students to have the capacity and resources to conduct their research and thereby base their future lives in India.

The economic loss and the human capital depletion suffered for years remains. However, there is some evidence to suggest cause for hope, as the intellectual windfall continues, and those who return (86%) believe that the best days for the Indian economy lie ahead.

Never say never – Pushing and pulling back to India  

A wave of students and second generation immigrants are beginning to see benefits in returning to a place they once called home. While no official numbers pertaining to the return migration of skilled workers to India has been relayed by the Indian government, various studies by independent authors and researchers over the past few years endorse this growing trend.

The primary push factor comprises the extensive corporate restructuring which took place in the United States and other developed nations after the recent financial crisis. While many of the developed nations witnessed negative growth and double dip recessions, the Asian market showed remarkable resilience with India maintaining an average of 6.6% annual GDP growth rate in 2011. This made it an incredibly appealing market to return to. This is enhanced by the pro-entrepreneurship culture that has developed in India over the years where it is now perhaps more feasible to imagine an ‘Indian Dream’ rather than an American one.

© Hartlepool College/Creative Commons License
© Hartlepool College/Creative Commons License

Furthermore, prejudiced migration policies mean that, even with requisite skills and educational qualifications, immigrants are unable to break through the glass ceiling. Protectionist measures being undertaken by various developed nations in the interest of their own citizens further limit the scope of opportunities for foreign nationals and lead many to consider returning to their country of origin.

There is a growing trend amongst second generation immigrants of a return, based upon emotional gratification. Within migrant communities, there is often a fascination with life and culture in their country of origin, and a desire to connect with their heritage beyond mere visits.

India’s case of reverse brain drain can be explained through a mixture of emotion, opportunity and government involvement. All of these factors have contributed to the growing trend of Indians returning home, resulting in a significant shift in the well-established Indian diaspora.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

The fight for universal education and the Nobel Peace Prize

The fight for universal education and the Nobel Peace Prize

With 2015 fast approaching, education is a development issue that is currently under the spotlight as one of the key Millennium Development Goals. Inma López examines the future of education in light of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. 

Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, the two children´s rights activists who won the Nobel Prize 2014, reinforce the importance of education as the key to develop a society. Malala stands as a figurehead for female’s rights to go to school, standing up, as she did, to the Taliban’s ban.

The young Pakistani shares the Nobel Peace Prize this year with Kailash Satyarthi, an activist from India who has rescued almost 80,000 children from child labour and runs the charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA).

© Prashanth NS/ Creative Commons license
© Prashanth NS/ Creative Commons license

 

The 2014  award brings up some important children’s rights: the right to education and the right to being free of oppression. With regards to education, the focus is on universal and free education, one of the human rights recognized by United Nations.  This human right is pushed in the second Millennium Goal. Since 2000, the effort to promote universal education has seen some success. The UN’s 2014 MDG report highlights that developing regions now have 90 per cent enrollment in primary schools and more equitable ratios of girls and boys.

So why is education still considered so important within development?

The UN certainly seems to think that education can change the world. “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”: said Malala, addressing the UN on her 16th birthday.

Education is often considered as the key to the prevention of child labour. Education is also a necessary tool to reduce illiteracy and as a consequence, to lower poverty by reducing inequality in societies. Universal education is also crucial in creating a  freer society because by spreading knowledge, people are more able to defend their own rights. This is also why both Malala Yousafzai and Kaliash Satyarthi  pin progress within their respective countries on eliminating children’s rights violations.

© LM TP/ Creative Commons license
© LM TP/ Creative Commons license

While universal education is an excellent tool to allow societies to progress, it is a goal that is not without its impediments. According to the UN, 50 per cent of out of school children live in conflict-affected areas. Sometimes the school is too far away for many pupils or it is not safe to walk there. There are situations in which extreme ideologies do not allow it, or even cultural reasons such as the segregation of boys and girls in school. Satyarthi pointed out in a recent editorial that “employers benefit immensely from child labour as children come across as the cheapest option, sometimes working even for free”. In the same editorial, Satyarthi said that, according to non-governmental organizations, there are 60 million children working in India, which is six per cent of the total population.

The current MDGs will expire in less than a year. Following this, heads of states and governments will agree on a new development agenda to build upon. Many voices claim poverty should be a priority for the new MDGs while others think that the goals are just too big and should be simplified. However, as we head towards 2015, there is no doubt that education will continue to be a huge development priority.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

Every child in school: how Westernised education is shrinking knowledge in the 21st century

Every child in school: how Westernised education is shrinking knowledge in the 21st century

The globalisation of education is underway, on a scale unprecedented in human history. While its promises are many, Blog Editor Louisa Jones reveals the negative consequences of teaching every child to think alike, and explores an alternative approach in Listuguj First Nation, Quebec, Canada.

 

IMG_0635
© Julie Lafrance/Creative Commons license

A ‘modern education’ is the most highly coveted accomplishment in the world today. It spells social mobility, riches and acceptance on the international stage. Free elementary education was enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and currently forms a crucial part of the United Nations’ poverty reduction strategy through the Millennium Development Goals.

With the weight of the world’s decision-makers behind it, few have questioned why the educational model reproduced from Chile to China continues to follow the rational mindset of nineteenth-century Europe. Book-based, compartmentalised and obsessed with testing, the Western-biased syllabus that once moulded youth into ideal colonial citizens today encourages them to abandon their own cultures, languages and environments in favour of an unsustainable urban consumer culture, according to Helena Norberg-Hodge, Director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture.

Keep reading →


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.

Unveiling female realities in south India: An interview with Tamil poet, Rajathi Salma

Salma
Photo courtesy of OR Books.

Like every other woman in her village in Tamil Nadu, at the first sign of puberty Rajathi Salma was confined within the four walls of her family home. Deprived of any further education or social contacts, she began to write. After 25 years of isolation, a twist of political fate saw her elected to lead her local panchayat (village council). This was followed by four years as the head of the state’s Social Welfare Board. Today she is considered one of the most outspoken women poets in India.

Following on from our review of Kim Longinotto’s documentary, Salma, at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Blog Editor Louisa Jones talked to this inspirational woman about the challenges of talking openly in a conservative society.

Keep reading →


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

***

Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.