By Haley Britzky
Despite the U.S. spending nearly a billion dollars to better education in Afghanistan, girls are still falling behind.
The big picture: The newly released quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reports that the USAID had "disbursed approximately $979 million for education programs in Afghanistan" as of April 18. But per SIGAR, the World Bank said "progress towards increasing equitable access to education, particularly for girls, was only 'moderately satisfactory.'"
How girls are faring
The Human Rights Watch reported in October that "the proportion of Afghan girls who are in school has never gone much above" 50%, despite the 2001 invasion being "partly framed" for helping Afghan women.
The bottom line:
"Make no mistake: Education in Afghanistan is much more equitable today than it was during the Taliban era, when girls were barred from going to school... Unfortunately, you still have a number of societal constraints, rooted more in the dominance of patriarchal views than in the decisions of the Taliban, that keep a number of girls from having access to education."
— Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director of the Wilson Center's Asia program
Published on Axios on May 6, 2018
By Helene Christensen
“We are equal to boys and can also contribute to society,” said 17-year-old Lidia Suale Saide. Lidia knows what it means to stand up for these beliefs. One year ago, she refused her mother’s attempt to marry her off. She said she wanted to become a doctor instead.
“I want to become independent and free of the harms and expectations placed on girls in my community,” she told UNFPA recently.
But many girls in Mozambique are not able to avoid marriage. Child marriage is widespread in the country, with 48 per cent of women aged 20-24 reporting they were married before reaching age 18.
Child marriage often pushes girls from school, and it leaves them vulnerable to abuse and early pregnancies, which can cause lasting harm or even death.
Child marriage and teen pregnancies are closely linked: In Mozambique, some 46 per cent of girls aged 15-19 are either pregnant or already mothers, according to 2015 data.
But Lidia is helping to change these trends.
She is now a mentor in Raparinga Biz, a UNFPA-supported programme that has mobilized tens of thousands of adolescent girls to learn about their sexual and reproductive health and human rights, as well as about citizenship and life skills.
This knowledge is helping girls advocate for themselves and each other: Within the programme’s first year, only 1 per cent of the 23,500 adolescent girls involved were married before turning 18.
Tackling gender inequality, violence
Raparinga Biz, which translates to “Busy Girl,” was launched in May 2016. It has so far reached 94,000 girls and young women. Over 2,300 girls have been trained as mentors.
The programme directly takes on one of the root causes of child marriage and teen pregnancy: gender inequality. Girls discuss the importance of equality, empowerment and human rights.
“Our society is portraying girls and women as inferior, and it is influencing our confidence and value,” said 16-year-old Assma Cassam Ismali, one of the programme’s young mentors. “As a mentor I want to support girls to value themselves.”
Too often, gender inequality takes the form of violence against women and girls. Even school can be an unsafe environment. Seven in 10 girls in Mozambique know of cases of sexual harassment and abuse in their schools, a 2013 UN report indicated.
“My teacher has been harassing me for a year,” Maria* told UNFPA. “One time he forced a sexual relation with me in a classroom. I feel ashamed and blame myself. He is HIV positive, and I fear what more can happen.”
Maria is another of the new mentors trained under Rapariga Biz. She spoke about her experience during a mentors’ training session on human rights.
She wants to help other girls stand up for themselves and their rights, and to help girls seek justice if abuses do occur.
Former child bride advocates change
The resilience of mentors like Maria and Lidia is one of the programme’s strengths. Mentors are able to draw from their own experiences, as well as their training, when educating and advising other girls.
Lucia*, from Angoche District in Nampula Province, was pressured by her family to become the wife of a man who was already married. As an orphan, Lucia had little support in opposing the marriage. She ultimately married him against her wishes.
She was miserable, and after much negotiation with her extended family, she managed to leave the marriage.
Today, she focuses on her studies and advocates for change as a Raparinga Biz mentor.
“I want to inspire girls to marry out of love and choice,” she said. “We cannot be obliged to marry against our will. I hope my story can inspire adolescent girls in my community to choose who to marry at the right time.”
Raparinga Biz is led by the Government of Mozambique, with technical support from UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO and UN WOMEN. The programme receives funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, along with a contribution from the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.
It aims to reach 1 million girls and young women by 2020.
Published on UNFPA on February 15, 2018
Nearly 700 children in El Tarra were forced to stop their regular classes after clashes between armed groups. "The reality for many children is in stark contrast to the positive picture painted by the peace agreement," warned Christian Visnes, the Norwegian Refugee Council's (NRC) Country Director in Colombia. A crossfire caused bullets to fly over a school, whilst children were attending classes, in the first two days of February. Additionally, 176 people fled their homes as a result of the fighting and threats in the Eastern province of Norte de Santander.
In the region, clashes between armed groups and security forces continue to affect populations near the border between Colombia and Venezuela.
International Humanitarian Law proscribes attacks on educational institutions by armed groups. “We – Governments, humanitarian actors, donors- have a shared responsibility to ensure that schools are safe and that education continues during armed conflict and displacement”, said Visnes.
NRC encourages the Colombian Government to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, and step up its efforts to ensure that schools are safe and protected. Strict measures against those who violate these principles should be implemented.
According to an NRC report, the armed conflict, which is compounded by a lack of state presence, severely limits children, adolescents and youth's right to education. Almost three out every ten children living in rural areas in Colombia never attended school. Half of those who go to school do not continue after the primary level (five years of education).
Consequently, children and adolescents aged 12, 13 and 14 have little education, which makes them extremely vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups or the illegal economy. Collaborative effort between the government and its institutions is needed to ensure that schools in conflict- affected areas are safe and protected, and free from military use and attacks.
“It is our joint responsibility to ensure that schools are safe during times of crisis. In conflict affected areas where NRC is delivering humanitarian assistance, displaced children often tell staff that schools are the place where they feel safest” said Visnes. When schools are attacked and land mines are planted along the road, their sense of safety vanishes. Attacks and military use of schools have devastating consequences on children’s lives, as it not only disrupts classes, fosters drop-out but also limits the quality of education.
The year started with more newly displaced people in Colombia. Nearly 2,800 have been displaced as a result of the conflict. The protracted crisis has displaced more than 7.2 million Colombians.
Published on NRC on February 7, 2018
Attacks by Syrian-Russian forces in an area near the Damascus in late October and early November 2017 killed eight children and destroyed or damaged four schools, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks on Eastern Ghouta, 15 kilometers from the Syrian capital, resulted in the closing of schools, depriving many children in the besieged area of access to education.
Impunity for unlawful attacks and a deadly siege of Eastern Ghouta by government forces mean that children in the enclave are at grave risk. The Syrian government and affiliated militia are on the United Nations’ “list of shame” of parties responsible for serious violations of the rights of children in armed conflict.
“Syrian and Russian forces appear to view the lives of children in Eastern Ghouta as utterly disposable,” said Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The UN Security Council should demand an immediate end to all unlawful attacks, not least those killing children and destroying schools, under threat of targeted sanctions against those responsible.”
Human Rights Watch spoke to nine witnesses in November and reviewed photographs, videos, and reports by Syrian human rights and media organizations of the school attacks. The attacks were apparently indiscriminate, in violation of the laws of war.
The Syrian-Russian military alliance has attacked many of the towns in Eastern Ghouta repeatedly. Attacks on the enclave intensified after anti-government armed groups attacked Syrian forces at a frontline location in the area in mid-November, including the use of cluster munitions, and re-started after a brief lull in December. The Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian nongovernmental group, reported that Syrian and allied forces killed 45 boys and 30 girls in the Damascus suburbs from November 1 to January 3.
On the morning of October 31, a mortar round hit the entrance gate of a primary school in Jisreen, a town in the besieged enclave, killing six schoolboys and a man selling sweets from a cart. Half-an-hour later, two mortar rounds landed almost simultaneously, on either side of a school in the town of Mesraba, killing two adults and two children, including a father and his son. Attacks on November 8, including at least one airstrike, destroyed a kindergarten in the town of Hamouriyeh, and badly damaged two elementary schools in the towns of Saqba and Kafr Batna.
Residents and an education official from Eastern Ghouta told Human Rights Watch that in October schools in the area rescheduled and shortened class time from about 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to keep children safe by reducing the time they were gathered together in classrooms. But attacks continued to kill and maim schoolchildren and forced emergency evacuations of schools and kindergartens. In November, local councils closed public schools in response to these dangers. In one community where a school was attacked, residents opened an “alternative” school in the basement of a residential building for greater safety, but an airstrike destroyed the building in December.
Anti-government armed groups, Faylaq al-Rahman and Jaysh al-Islam, control the towns where the schools were attacked. But residents said the armed groups did not have materiel or personnel in the towns, under agreements with local civilian councils. Witnesses and residents said that the mortar attacks originated from areas controlled by Syrian government forces that had been the source of previous and continuing attacks on the towns.
Syrian government forces have besieged Eastern Ghouta, which has a population of about 400,000, since 2013. In October 2017, the government restricted the only entry point for commercial merchandise, exacerbating a scarcity of food and medical supplies. The government has refused to allow in adequate humanitarian aid, which reached only about a quarter of the enclave’s residents in 2017, and unnecessarily hindered the evacuation of people with urgent medical needs.
At least three children died in November after Syrian authorities refused to permit their urgent evacuation for medical treatment unavailable in the enclave. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, stated in December that 137 children needed immediate medical evacuation. But the government allowed the Syrian Red Crescent to evacuate only 17 children and 12 adults with life-threatening health conditions, and their family members, from December 27 to 29, reportedly as part of a deal in which Jaysh al-Islam released detainees. One of the children on the list of those due to be evacuated had already died, according to the Syrian American Medical Society, a nongovernmental group.
The laws of war that apply to all parties to the conflict in Syria prohibit attacks that target civilians or civilian infrastructure like schools, fail to distinguish between civilians and military objects, or disproportionately harm civilians. Parties are required to take all feasible measures in conducting operations to avoid, or in any event minimize, loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. The laws of war also prohibit siege warfare if it causes disproportionate harm to the civilian population, and require the parties to provide access for humanitarian aid for civilians in need. Anyone who commits, aids, or abets serious violations of the laws of war intentionally or recklessly may be prosecuted for war crimes.
Russia has repeatedly used its veto as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to block accountability for war crimes by all sides in the Syria conflict. Russia and Syria should end their unlawful attacks on schools and civilians. The Security Council, which on December 19 renewed its mandate for cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to millions of desperate Syrian civilians, should demand that the Syrian government immediately end unlawful restrictions on aid to Eastern Ghouta or face targeted sanctions against those responsible.
“In 2017 a mortar blew off a boy’s legs at his school gate, a warplane flattened a kindergarten, and children died from illnesses that could have been treated just a few kilometers away,” Van Esveld said. “The suffering of children in Eastern Ghouta should shock the conscience, but it continues unabated in 2018 as Russia and Syria persist in their unlawful attacks.”
Read the full article here. Published on HRW on January 11, 2018
By DELIA PAUL
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Koumbou Boly Barry, has called on UN Member States to fight discrimination to ensure that all children have access to education, fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (quality education). The UN reports that 263 million children around the world are not receiving education, due to a range of factors, including being migrants or refugees, or because of their cultural, linguistic or ethnic background.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated the Special Rapporteur’s report (A/72/498) to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 23 September. The report reviews the role of equity and inclusion in strengthening the right to education, particularly in the context of achieving the SDGs. The report highlights a number of factors that influence whether or not children have the chance to be educated include poverty, disabilities, living in rural areas, being nomadic and being girls. The report cites studies from around the world indicating the dimensions of the problem and provides examples of national actions that have been effective in promoting equity and inclusion in the educational sphere.
The report calls for governments to identify people and groups in need of specific, targeted support and to review their laws and policies to address those needs. Such action, the report argues, must include collecting and publishing disaggregated data and should encompass all aspects of education from early childhood care to adult literacy programmes.
The report concludes by calling for States to take significant, positive actions to tackle discrimination, inequity and exclusion in education to ensure that the SDGs are met.
Koumbou Boly Barry is from Burkina Faso, and was appointed Special Rapporteur on the right to education in 2016.
Published on IISD on October 26, 2017.
By Sam Mednick
“We knew nothing before,” said Mangar Kual, deputy of Warabiei cattle camp.
Situated just outside of South Sudan’s Rumbek town, Warabiei is one of thousands of sprawling camps where South Sudan’s cattle keepers diligently care for their livestock.
The smell of manure hangs in the air, and the ash from burnt feces, meant to keep the bugs away, is smeared across the faces of young men and women tending to hundreds of cows.
Cracking a smile, Kual stares at the keypad on his mobile phone. “Now we can dial our phones and we can write,” he said.
For the past year Kual, once illiterate, has attended the cattle camp’s new school without walls. Spearheaded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Pastoralist Livelihood and Education project is an European Union-funded pilot program and the first of its kind in South Sudan. It’s aimed at promoting education, specifically for roving and isolated communities.
As the world’s youngest nation battles starvation and allegations of grave human rights abuses, its 4-year civil war shows no signs of ending. While the majority of organizations in South Sudan are focused on the immense humanitarian needs of more than 6 million people—half the country’s population—several agencies are putting resources into developing and improving the country’s ailing education system, specifically for displaced and remote communities.
“Without literacy and numeracy skills, gains made through pastoralist livelihood support cannot be sustained,” said Ezana Kassa, project manager for FAO.
FAO’s new field schools target South Sudan’s cattle keepers and their families by embedding trained facilitators into the communities. As pastoralists are required to move frequently, Kassa said they’re often left out of basic services, including education. In order to combat this, FAO has trained 20 facilitators, who live and travel with the communities. Currently, the program is operating in 10 cattle camps around the country, employing two teachers per camp and educating approximately 1,600 children and adults in total.
Huddled under a tree with 30 other students, Kual rests his gun, which he uses to protect his livestock, on the ground before trading it in for a book for his daily, hour-long class.
“Repeat after me,” said Chol Mafet, the camp’s 22-year-old facilitator, pointing to the small portable blackboard. “What is science?”
The students echo back Mafet’s words, likely not yet fully comprehending the meaning of what they’re saying. Although school is optional, Mafet, who’s been teaching in the camp for a year, told Devex people are keen to learn.
“They ask questions about how to achieve peace and how to live together and how to be healthy and protect themselves and their cattle from sickness,” Mafet said.
As the nature of the school is unique, so is the curriculum, which is tailored to meet the population's’ needs. It’s designed to provide context and practical examples including relevant livelihood skills.
“Literacy and numeracy are not taken as side learning,” Kassa said.
Instead, he said, it’s integrated in practical “livelihood discussions so that they are more functional to their everyday use.”
Additionally, the teachers are selected from the same community in which they work rather than deploying a professional from outside the town or villages. Potential teachers don’t need prior experience, but they do need a high school education. They receive three months of training beforehand and periodic trainings thereafter. This helps to ensure that the facilitators are able to live in remote and often challenging environments, which might include sleeping on feces-soaked ground surrounded by hundreds of cows.
A few hours from the cattle camp, outside of Rumbek in the remote village of Wulu Gedim, 20-year-old Martha Abel teaches literacy, math and livestock and animal production to the villagers who have been “left behind.”
“This area is forgotten,” said adult student Barnaba Yaor, sitting on a wooden bench in his outdoor classroom.
Wulu Gedim sits between two larger towns and, as a result, residents say that, over the years, they haven’t received much support.
Eighteen-year-old Abraham Mading dropped out of primary school years ago because of the arduous 2-hour walk. Since April, however, he’s started learning again.
Through the program, adults are offered classes once a week and youth have the option to come on a daily basis. Currently, 60 women and 15 men are taking advantage of the adult class.
Although FAO’s program is the first to focus on pastoralist communities, other development organizations in South Sudan are adopting similar practices in order to target the increasing number of displaced civilians. Since the onset of the war, more than 4 million people have been forced from their homes, 2 million of whom have been internally displaced.
“When communities are displaced, we make an effort to follow them where they are,” said Akuja Mading, team leader for Girls’ Education South Sudan, a United Kingdom aid-funded program focusing on increasing access to quality education for girls. By providing cash grants to girls and schools, as well as through teacher training, the goal is to remove barriers that prevent girls from receiving an education.
Four years ago when the program was launched, just before the war broke out, Mading said they weren’t planning on strategizing to reach displaced populations.
Due to the conflict, however, they’ve had to adapt. As a result GESS has selected what they refer to as “county-level colleagues” who move with displaced communities and act as the program’s point of reference on the ground.
“Wherever they settle or resettle and are interested in rebuilding a school for their community, we still have that contact,” Mading said. She says having that focal person embedded within the community provides for continuity.
GESS also greatly relies on the use of radio when reaching and educating remote places.
“Even in the deepest village in South Sudan, someone usually has a radio,” Mading said.
GESS produces programs in nine local languages and airs them on FM stations. For areas without coverage, they use portable wind ups. The goal of the radio programs is not only to focus on education, but to stimulate discussion and shift behaviors and mindsets.
Ultimately, Mading said, school is about the community and the teachers—not the location.
“As long as you can provide support and the community is set up, it doesn’t matter where you are.”
Published on DEVEX on October 10, 2017
With the Taliban regaining ground, we look at some of the obstacles and success stories in a country where conflict and cultural values have affected millions of children.
In 2001, the Taliban lorded over Afghanistan. Their iron rule meant that fewer than one million boys went to school - and girls were almost completely excluded from education.
By last year, after 15 years of conflict, peace-building and efforts to rid the country of the fundamentalist group, that figure had soared. More than nine million children were at school - 40% of them were girls.
But the Taliban have gradually been regaining ground and now hold more territory than at any time since 2001.
And after many years of progress, the cause of education for all in Afghanistan is still a long way off. Here's a look at some of the issues, obstacles and success stories.
One in three children out of school
More than 3.5 million children, a third of Afghan kids, were out of school at the start of the school year in March - and the number is predicted to rise.
Three-quarters of them are girls - due not only to violence but also a lack of female teachers, early marriage and social restrictions in the conservative society.
Education Ministry spokesman Mujib Mehrdad said it was hard to say exactly how many children were out of school but the situation had deteriorated after years of progress.
Save the Children predicted the total number of Afghans missing school will rise by more than 400,000 this year.
That is partly due to insecurity and partly because up to one million Afghan refugees are expected to return from Pakistan in 2017 - among them children who will not make it to school.
Lack of basic skills
Just 66% of males and 37% of females aged 15 to 24 can read and write, according to a report published last year by the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Center.
It said 45.5% of Afghans attend primary school and 27% are at secondary school.
The Afghan government, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and international donors have worked closely to rebuild Afghanistan’s education sector.
They have constructed more than 16,000 schools and recruited and trained over 154,000 teachers.
Girls trapped by child marriage
The majority of Afghan girls marry before the age of 19 - and 40% of these marriages were of girls between 10 and 13, a United Nations report showed last year.
A national action plan to end child marriage was launched in April by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Ministry of Women's Affairs, with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Embassy of Canada.
"Most children, especially girls, cannot go to school once they are married which limits their opportunities and keeps them trapped in poverty,” said a report for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting by Sayed Najib Jawid, a specialist at Kabul Mental Health hospital.
Attacks on schools
More than 210 girls' schools were closed down in 2016 - denying nearly 51,000 girls access to education - said a UN report.
It said there were more than 1000 attacks on education between 2009 and 2012, including schools being set on fire, suicide bombings, bombs, killings of staff, threats to staff and abductions.
War is a way of life for many children. Child soldiers were recruited by the Afghan National Police, the Afghan Local Police and three armed groups - including the Taliban forces - in 2015, according to the UN.
One in four civilian casualties that year was a child. The UN verified 1306 incidents resulting in 829 child casualties (733 killed, 2096 injured) - an average of 53 children killed or injured every week.
Tens of thousands of children in Afghanistan are risking their health and safety every day by working in hazardous conditions, a Human Rights Watch report said in 2016.
Work is forcing them to miss out on education or combine the hardships of their work with going to school. Only half of those involved in child labour attend school.
Girls fight back
Six girls from the war-torn western province of Herat made world headlines when they were denied visas to take part in a global robotics competition in the United States.
But last month the team was allowed to show off its skills and won silver medals. Roya Mahboob, an Afghan tech entrepreneur who helped organise their visit, said the girls' efforts would "have a big positive message for the Afghan community."
Sadly, the father of one of the team was killed in an Islamic State bombing of a mosque in Herat earlier this month.
Helping to train teachers
Eighty graduates from Afghan universities are teaching 23,000 girls and boys in 21 schools under the Teach for Afghanistan scheme launched at the beginning of this academic year.
The scheme in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, was masterminded by 26-year-old founder Rahmatullah Arman.
He said: "For me, the biggest inspiration was when I went into schools where there were no chairs, no desks, often not even teachers, but the schools were still crowded with pupils.
“I never could have dreamed that one day I would be able to support these communities to establish classes for girls’ education.
"It is my dream that all girls in the country can one day receive an education.”
Afghan refugees in Pakistan
More than 1.3 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan - half of them children.
When Aqeela Asifi won the Nansen Refugee Award in 2015, she promised to use some of the $100,000 prize money to expand the school where she has helped more than 1000 Afghan girls get an education.
That goal was achieved last year when she opened three new classrooms, a washroom and a fully-equipped science laboratory at the school in remote Kot Chandana village in Pakistan.
In the summer of 2016, Pakistan announced that more than three million Afghan refugees - some in the country since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 - needed to go home.
Since then, about 600,000 registered and undocumented Afghans refugees have been repatriated to an unstable nation where there are currently more than a million internally displaced Afghans.
Muppets make education cool
Girls' education is being promoted by muppets created by the Sesame Street team. Zeerak - a bespectacled orange boy - is a children's TV character who reveres his educated older sister.
His big sister Zari, introduced last year, has already proved a success on the Afghan version of Sesame Street, known as Baghch-e-Simsim.
Published on ReliefWeb on August 25, 2017.
New report reveals single semester brings significant learning improvements in reading and math Evidence that Partnership Schools for Liberia can help deliver SDG4 Bridge awarded an 'A' rating and 43 new schools for 2017/18.
Liberian students in public nursery and primary schools, in an innovative education program undertaken by the Liberian Ministry of Education Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL), have made substantial learning gains in reading and math in a single semester compared to their peers in neighboring schools.
A new report Learning in Liberia published today by the Liberian Ministry of Education, Pencils of Promise, The Dean of Education at the University of Liberia and Bridge PSL public schools, reveals that over the course of a single semester, students in Bridge PSL public schools could read 7 more words a minute and answer 6% more questions correctly about the story they just read. In math, they solved 2.6 more addition problems and 2.2 more subtraction problems in a minute.
Bridge PSL public school students made more progress toward achieving national literacy benchmarks. In just 4 months, 17 percent of Bridge PSL second graders met the reading fluency benchmark for the first time, compared to only 4 percent of second graders at traditional public schools. Bridge PSL public school students also outperformed their traditional public school peers on the reading comprehension benchmark by a similar margin; 15 percent of Bridge PSL public school students met this standard for the first time, compared to 4% of students attending traditional public schools.
The data demonstrates that students in Bridge PSL public schools are experiencing accelerated learning in comparison to their peers in other schools. Lessons learned from these Partnership Schools for Liberia can be brought into all public schools in Liberia. These early findings also show the direct and immediate benefits to children of Partnership Schools for Liberia itself.
The report is released as the Ministry of Education Awards Bridge an 'A' rating for successful implementation allocating them 43 additional schools for year two and bringing the total number of Bridge PSL public schools to 68.
Liberian Education Minister, George Werner, said: "The findings of this mid-year report are both exciting and encouraging. They show that students in Bridge PSL public schools performed better academically than their peers in traditional public schools, across nearly every literacy and numeracy metric tested, and over a short period of time. This also points to the benefits of continuing the Partnership Schools for Liberia program, and continuing to see how organizations can work with the Ministry of Education to strengthen individual schools, as well as our entire system."
Liberian Deputy Minister of Planning, Research and Development, Gbovadeh Gbilia, said: "It is encouraging to see how Bridge PSL public schools' interventions mentioned within the report such as increased teaching hours, contextualized learning materials and involvement of local communities through Parent Teacher Associations have not only provided safe and conducive learning environments, but also the acceleration of learning outcomes for students assessed."
Chief Impact Officer at Pencils of Promise, Leslie Engle Young, said: "Pencils of Promise is thrilled to see the early gains on student literacy in Bridge PSL public schools. As a partner in this effort, we are excited to continue to learn more about what works best in getting students on the path toward literacy."
The Dean of the School of Education and Professor of Education and Research Methods, Cuttington University Graduate School & University of Liberia, Dr. Saaim W. Naame, said: "I think this is one of the best things that has happened to Liberia, a partnership working on the education of elementary school children. This is something that has been neglected for a long time. The midline report shows significant progress within the shortest possible period of time. In just a few months, we have been able to see the progress of these children. This collaboration has great potential and it should inspire Liberians."
Head of Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia, Marcus Wleh, said: "We are delighted to be a part of the positive impact provided by the Partnership Schools for Liberia program, it has truly impacted our Liberian children in such a short window of time. The education gains released today, provide objective evidence that children in Bridge PSL public schools are learning faster and reaching higher learning targets than their peers at traditional public schools. This program when scaled up across the country could revolutionize education in Liberia."
In reading, students at Bridge PSL public schools outperformed traditional public school students by 0.77 standard deviations. By comparison, Bridge accomplished in 4 months what a very successful early grade reading intervention in Liberia achieved in 18 months. In math, Bridge PSL results were quite strong as well, outperforming traditional public school students by 0.18 standard deviations (roughly equivalent to 50% more learning over the initial four months).
Bridge is one of eight operators supporting the Liberian government towards its reform of the Liberian education system in meeting the urgent need for quality public nursery and primary schools.
Published on AllAfrica on July 4, 2017.
While a new United Nations study shows that the global poverty rate could be more than halved if all adults completed secondary school, data show high out-of-school rates in many countries, making it likely that education completion levels will remain well below that target for generations.
"The new analysis on education's far-reaching benefits released today should be good news for all those working on the Sustainable Development Goal to eradicate poverty by 2030," said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"It shows that we have a concrete plan to ensure people no longer have to live on barely a few dollars a day, and that plan has education at its heart," she added.
Based on the effects that education had on growth and poverty reduction in developing countries from 1965 to 2010, the new analysis by UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report team, shows that nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling.
"If all adults completed secondary education, 420 million could be lifted out of poverty, reducing the total number of poor people by more than half globally and by almost two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia," according to UNESCO.
The paper, from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) on reducing global poverty through universal primary and secondary education, is being released ahead of the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) which will be held in New York from 10 to 19 July and focuses on poverty eradication in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It demonstrates the importance of recognizing education as a core lever for ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere.
Studies have shown that education has direct and indirect impacts on both economic growth and poverty. It provides skills that boost employment opportunities and incomes while helping to protect from socio-economic vulnerabilities. An equitable expansion of education is likely to reduce inequality, lifting the poorest from the bottom of the ladder.
However, if current trends continue, of the 61 million primary school age children currently out of school, 17 million will never to set foot in a classroom - one in three of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia and Northern Africa, and more than one in four of those in Central Asia and Southern Asia.
Moreover, girls in poor countries continue to face particularly steep barriers to education.
While UNESCO underscores that education must reach the poorest in order to maximize its benefits and reduce income inequality, according to the GEM Report, children from the poorest 20 per cent of families are eight times as likely to be out of school as children from the richest 20 per cent in lower-middle-income countries.
The paper stresses the need to reduce the direct and indirect costs of education for families.
Published on AllAfrica on June 22, 2017.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.